Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings snap count: Offense nearly sets season low

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: December 23, 2013 - 7:45 AM

The morning after a 42-14 loss to the Bengals, we take a look at the Vikings’ snap distribution on offense and defense

Offense: 49 snaps

Quarterback

QB Matt Cassel – 49 snaps (played 100% on offense)

QB Christian Ponder – DNP

The offense ran just 49 plays because it went 0-for-9 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down. It’s two more than the team’s season low (47) against the Packers in Week 8.

Cassel had his worst performance this season after stringing together three solid games. He had three turnovers in the first half that led to a huge deficit the Vikings couldn’t recover from. He finished 13 of 27 for 114 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He also fumbled on the opening drive of the game.

Cassel finished with a 32.6 quarterback rating, surpassing Josh Freeman’s 40.6 rating against the Giants for the lowest by a Vikings quarterback this season.

Running Back/Fullback

RB Adrian Peterson – 26 (53%)

RB Joe Banyard – 20 (41%)

FB Jerome Felton – 15 (31%)

RB Toby Gerhart – 2 (4%)

Peterson (foot) and Gerhart (hamstring) ended up playing but neither were effective due to their injuries. Gerhart aggravated his right hamstring on the opening drive running down Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap on a fumble return. He didn’t even get a carry in just two snaps.

Peterson had 11 carries for 45 yards, but the foot clearly bothered him throughout the game. It begs the question whether it was smart to play Peterson, no matter his mentality, if he’s not 100 percent in a meaningless game.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

WR Jerome Simpson – 31 (84%)

WR Greg Jennings – 40 (82%)

TE Rhett Ellison – 39 (80%)

WR Cordarrelle Patterson – 32 (65%)

WR Jarius Wright – 14 (29%)

TE Chase Ford – 11 (22%)

WR Joe Webb – 5 (10%)

With Cassel’s off day, it impacted this position dramatically. Wright and Patterson had solid games, and that might be a stretch. Wright had one catch, a 36-yard touchdown, in the first half on two targets.

Patterson had three catches for eight yards on a team-high seven targets. He was more effective running the ball with three carries for 54 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown.

Offensive Line

G Charlie Johnson – 49 (100%)

C John Sullivan – 49 (100%)

T Matt Kalil – 49 (100%)

T Phil Loadholt – 49 (100%)

G Brandon Fusco – 49 (100%)

T J’Marcus Webb – DNP

G Joe Baca – DNP

C Joe Berger – DNP

Cassel was flushed out of the pocket from the opening drive due to Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s aggressive play calling. The offensive line had an assignment error on the first drive, leading to Cassel’s fumble on a sack. It was one of four times Cassel went down in the game.

Inactives: QB Josh Freeman, OT Mike Remmers, WR Rodney Smith, RB Matt Asiata (ankle)

Defense: 77 snaps

Defensive Line

DE Jared Allen – 68 (88%)

DE Brian Robison – 62 (81%)

DT Kevin Williams – 46 (60%)

DE Everson Griffen – 41 (53%)

DT Sharrif Floyd – 40 (52%)

NT Fred Evans – 30 (39%)

NT Letroy Guion – 23 (30%)

Allen tied Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas for 13th all-time in sacks (126.5) with a ½ sack he received on Sunday, but that’s about the only positive angle about the defensive line. It failed to pressure Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton with just three quarterback hits (two for sacks) on 38 pass attempts. He finished 27 of 38 with 366 yards and four touchdowns.

Linebacker

LB Chad Greenway – 77 (100%)

LB Erin Henderson – 75 (97%)

LB Marvin Mitchell – 32 (42%)

LB Audie Cole – 5 (6%)

 

Cole was in a walking boot after the game due to a sprained ankle, which allowed Henderson to return back at middle linebacker. He finished with a team-high 12 tackles (one for loss) and did a solid job fitting the run. There was one noticeable play however when Henderson didn’t attempt to wrap his arms around Bengals running back Giovani Bernard, who spun off Henderson and broke a few more tackles on a 41-yard reception.

Secondary

CB Marcus Sherels – 76 (99%)

FS Harrison Smith – 60 (78%)

SS Jamarca Sanford – 51 (66%)

CB Chris Cook – 50 (65%)

FS Andrew Sendejo – 42 (55%)

SS Robert Blanton – 40 (52%)

CB Shaun Prater – 29 (38%)

 

Prater started over Cook, who returned from a knee injury this week, but he injured his ankle in the first half. The Vikings were forced to use Cook, who was burned multiple times before Prater returned in the second quarter.

One of those plays was Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green’s 29-yard touchdown catch where Cook bit on Green’s initial move off the line of scrimmage. Green scored again in the third off Cook on a two-yard catch. He finished with a game-high seven catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

Inactives: CB Xavier Rhodes (ankle), DT Chase Baker, DE Justin Trattou

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