ReFo: Vikings @ Chiefs, Preseason Week 3
Unexpected use of a rookie linebacker and unusually poor decision making from a QB highlight Steve Palazzolo's look at the Vikings and Chiefs.
ReFo: Vikings @ Chiefs, Preseason Week 3
Perhaps the last tune-up for many of the starters before the regular season, it was a strong showing for the Minnesota Vikings against the Kansas City Chiefs. Their defensive front continued their solid preseason by controlling the action, while the Chiefs’ leave the game with the same unwanted concerns about their offensive line. Perhaps more alarming, the usual sound decision-making of quarterback Alex Smith was compromised by two red-zone interceptions, a sight that has to concern the Chiefs who rely heavily on his playing mistake-free football.
Minnesota’s quarterback competition continued as Matt Cassel (0.2) reached into his bag of inconsistent tricks (a beautiful touchdown pass combined with questionable throws into coverage) while rookie Teddy Bridgewater did nothing to quell the excitement of his strong Week 2 outing as he posted a +0.7 on just 10 drop-backs.
Here’s a look at the rest of the key performances from this Week 3 preseason battle.
Minnesota Vikings – Performances of Note
Matt Kalil, LT, -2.2
Breakdown: Kalil surrendered five pressures (1 sack, 1 hit, 3 hurries), four of which came at the hands of outside linebacker Tamba Hali. He added few solid blocks in the run game (+1.2), but the -3.6 pass blocking grade is not encouraging given the step back he took a year ago.
Signature Stat: Kalil has surrendered five or more pressures in a game only four times in his career, but he gave up five on only 23 attempts against the Chiefs.
Sharrif Floyd, DT, +2.2
Breakdown: For the second straight game, Floyd posted a positive grade as a pass rusher (+1.9) as he notched two hurries on his 21 rushes. A disruptive 3-technique is crucial for the success of the Vikings’ defense and Floyd’s development in his second season will go a long way toward determining their success. Moving blockers in the running game and providing pressure was a good sign.
Signature Play: With 3:09 to go in the second quarter, Floyd got outside left guard Jeff Linkenbach to force a quick throw from quarterback Alex Smith.
Anthony Barr, OLB, -1.1
Breakdown: It still seems a curious decision that Barr has played so much in coverage this preseason while rushing the passer as a secondary role, but perhaps the coverage snaps are a necessary evil given his transition from edge rusher to more of a hybrid, SAM linebacker role. The game encapsulated some of Barr’s potential strengths and weaknesses as he was stout in the running game (+1.2) and struggled at times in the passing game (-2.1).
Signature Stat: Barr rushed the passer only 10 times compared to 19 snaps spent in coverage. That’s now 14 pass rush snaps and 50 coverage snaps through three preseason games.
Kansas City Chiefs – Performances of Note
Starting Offensive Line, -8.6
Breakdown: Kansas City’s biggest concern remains one after a disastrous performance by the starting offensive line. QB Alex Smith was constantly moved off his spot in the pocket just as he hit the top of his drop, never a good sign up front. All five starters graded negatively as Smith was pressured on 12 of his 30 drop-backs, but it was the speed at which he faced pressure that killed a number of passing plays before they even started.
Signature Play: With 1:51 to go in the second quarter, sixth-round rookie guard Zach Fulton allowed DE Brian Robison to get around him right off the snap forcing Smith to drift right into the waiting arms of DT Tom Johnson coming off the other edge for the sack.
Alex Smith, QB, -3.5
Breakdown: Even though the pressure was coming fast and furious, Smith’s worst plays came when he was finally given time to throw, including his two poor decisions in the red zone. An inaccurate post route was picked off by CB Captain Munnerlyn late in the first quarter, then Smith allowed LB Chad Greenway to undercut a slant route early in the second quarter.
Signature Stat: Smith graded at +0.5 on his 12 drop-backs under pressure, including three sacks, but he posted a -3.5 grade on 18 drop-backs in a clean pocket.
Ron Parker, CB, +3.3
Breakdown: Parker was only targeted twice, but he made the most of them as he deflected one and intercepted the other. He broke nicely on Cassel’s out route to nearly pick up the interception and then showed excellent ball skills as he stayed on top of the post route intended for WR Jerome Simpson, tracked Cassel’s overthrow, and hauled in the interception at the 2:09 mark of the second quarter.
Signature Play: Parker graded at -3.3 in coverage in Week 1 but offset with a +3.3 mark against the Vikings.
PFF Game Ball
Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali was a dominant presence off the edge, picking up a sack, hit and two hurries on just 12 rushes to finish at +3.4 overall.
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