Vikings a work in (no) progress?

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 25, 2012 - 9:25 AM

The Vikings struggled, particularly on offense, against a San Diego team that didn't play nine starters.

Feel free to read the fine print regarding the Vikings' early offensive ineptitude during Friday's 12-10 home loss to the Chargers.

It will remind you that receiver Jerome Simpson did not play, held out as the Vikings prepare to play the first three regular-season games without him. As expected, running back Adrian Peterson didn't play either. And with Toby Gerhart's health critical heading into the regular season, he took his final carry with 2 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first quarter.

A month from now, upon Simpson's return, the Vikings hope they'll have all their weapons available. Gerhart will be the backfield workhorse to start the season with Peterson's Sept. 9 return still likely. Tight end John Carlson should be back soon, too.

And if Friday's early effort was any indication, the Vikings will need help going forward.

San Diego won on a 45-yard Nick Novak field goal as time expired. But the Vikings began crawling into their grave far earlier.

On eight first-half possessions, they came away with only three points. And those came after a stalled 12-yard drive that was set up by a strong Chris Kluwe punt, an impressive three-and-out defensive stand and a subsequent 24-yard punt return by rookie Jarius Wright.

Beyond that, the first-half struggles included two turnovers, four punts, a missed field goal and only seven first downs on eight possessions.

Two more fumbles followed in the second half.

All that momentum that seemed to be building through efficient performances by the first string against the 49ers and Bills? Friday's effort was less crisp than a three-hour-old bowl of Corn Pops.

You can fault quarterback Christian Ponder if you'd like. After all, he posted a first-half rating of 45.7 as the Vikings fell into a 6-3 halftime hole. And his first interception of the preseason was so telegraphed toward Percy Harvin that two Chargers defensive backs jumped the route and fought for the pick before DeAndre Presley won the battle.

"We had talked about throwing a quick burst route to Percy out there," Ponder said. "And they completely disregarded [Michael] Jenkins on his route. So the guy just buzzed underneath and picked it."

Throughout the night, Ponder (9-for-16, 115 yards) didn't get much help. His protection broke down repeatedly -- the Chargers sacked Ponder five times and hurried him on at least four other occasions.

And with Simpson out, the receiving corps, to steal a description from Denny Green, was what we thought it was: ordinary and low on quality depth.

Take out Harvin's 40-yard grab on a bomb up the right sideline and Vikings receivers recorded only two other catches in the first half for 26 yards.

That looming three-game suspension Simpson faces to open the regular season suddenly seems like it might be debilitating.

The offensive line's effectiveness also will have to improve, though Ponder fell on the sword for some of Friday's breakdowns, admitting he was too stagnant in the pocket against the Chargers' 3-4 defense.

"I got myself in trouble," he said. "We talked about it on the sidelines. I was getting back on the top of my drop and kind of just sitting there. And that puts a lot of pressure on our tackles. I need to do a lot better job of stepping up and moving forward."

Yep, it was a sloppy, mistake-filled night.

In all, both teams produced almost as many penalties (20) as points (22). And the environment felt so lifeless that not even Jared Allen could muster up the excitement to do his calf-roping celebration after his two sacks. After all, Allen had only beat San Diego rookie left tackle Mike Harris, a reserve, to take down quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, also a backup.

So the Vikings' solid defensive effort, while low on mistakes, doesn't register as all that notable. Yes, there were six sacks with Jasper Brinkley, Fred Evans and Nick Reed joining Allen in the fun. And San Diego converted just three of 16 third downs while settling for 202 total yards.

But the Chargers opted to hold out starters such as quarterback Philip Rivers, tight end Antonio Gates and left tackle Jared Gaither, essentially throwing a B-team offense onto the field.

"I really liked some of the things our first-[team] defense did," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "They played extremely hard. We didn't come up with the turnovers that we'd like. But I thought our first unit did everything we asked."

The Vikings now have just two weeks left to clean things up before going under a much more intense microscope.

Dan Wiederer • dan.wiederer@startribune.com

  • EXHIBITION SAN DIEGO 12, VIKINGS 10

    Up next: 6 p.m. Thursday at Houston • TV: Ch. 11 (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: M. Melancon 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
Cleveland 7 Bottom 8th Inning
Minnesota 3
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco 0 Bottom 8th Inning
San Diego 3
Texas 1 Bottom 7th Inning
LA Angels 8
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 9 2nd Qtr 3:25
Toledo 20
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
(14) So Carolina 41 4th Qtr 4:17
Vanderbilt 27
(4) Oklahoma 38 4th Qtr 5:10
West Virginia 27
UNLV 14 4th Qtr 11:30
Houston 33
Miami-Florida 24 4th Qtr 7:12
(24) Nebraska 34
New Mexico 31 4th Qtr 6:30
New Mexico St 28
(22) Clemson 10 4th Qtr 13:00
(1) Florida State 10
California 14 2nd Qtr 9:36
Arizona 3
San Diego St 7 1st Qtr 6:23
Oregon State 0
(2) Oregon 6 1st Qtr 3:38
Washington St 7
Louisiana 0 1st Qtr 7:15
Boise State 7
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 3 FINAL
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 0 1st Half 25:00
Los Angeles 0
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do on Sunday in New Orleans?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close