1. There are few, if any, NFL players like Anthony Barr
Before the 2014 NFL draft, many pegged Barr as a 3-4 edge rusher, including some inside the Vikings organization. But coach Mike Zimmer saw a unique athlete who could be used all over the field. The second-year outside linebacker again rewarded Zimmer for his foresight Sunday. His hustle play to force Falcons running back Tevin Coleman to fumble and his fourth-down sack of quarterback Matt Ryan were huge plays. But Barr’s most impressive one came when he stuck with Coleman on a wheel route down the sideline and broke up the pass with one of his long limbs. Covering a speedy back like that at 6 feet 5 and 255 pounds? Not many humans on this planet can do that, which is why Barr has future Pro Bowler written all over him.
2. Vikings must find answers for these outside runs
The Falcons were the latest team to outflank the Vikings while popping a long running play. In the first quarter, Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called for one of the staples of his offense, a zone stretch run to the outside. Defensive end Brian Robison, who was supposed to set the edge, got pushed out of the play and the fullback cleaned out cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Coleman got around the edge and scooted down the right sideline for 46 yards and probably would have scored had Barr not swooped in to save the day. That kind of play has been a recurring theme. The 49ers gouged the Vikings with similar stretch runs and Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman scored his long touchdown on a zone pitch play to the left.
3. Deep-ball accuracy again an issue for Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater backers often point to the young quarterback overthrowing wideout Mike Wallace on a few occasions as proof he can throw the deep ball just fine. But the key on downfield throws is not how far a guy can chuck it, but trajectory and ball placement. Take Teddy’s second-quarter interception, for example. Bridgewater was unable to get Falcons safety Ricardo Allen to bite on a pump fake, but he probably still would have been fine had he led tight end Kyle Rudolph toward open space in the back of the end zone. Instead, he lobbed it to where Allen could make a play on the ball. According to Pro Football Focus, Bridgewater now ranks 28th among qualifying QBs in completion percentage when throwing at least 20 yards downfield.