No one should derive deep meaning from any preseason game, so let’s search for hints, clues and annoyances from the Vikings’ exhibition (the NFL hates that word) game at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.
• During an interview on the big screen before the game, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer complained about last year’s offense failing to sustain drives, forcing the defense to play too many minutes.
This complaint would sound better if it wasn’t aimed at former offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
Does DeFilippo deserve some of the blame for the Vikings’ offensive downturn last season? Yes. Know who deserves more? Zimmer, who hired him only to fire him during the season.
After the Vikings beat Seattle, Zimmer noted that the Vikings dominated the time of possession.
“Goes to show you converting third downs [helps], and sticking with the run when it looks like nothing is there, and eventually you pop them,” Zimmer said.
He’s the head coach. He can make that happen.
• Chad Beebe likely will be the Vikings’ third receiver and punt returner, and he held on the first field-goal attempt Sunday.
Punters have become popular choices to hold around the league because they have so much free time to work on holding alongside the kicker. Doesn’t it make more sense to have a receiver hold?
Receivers have the best hands on the team and might be able to make a play after a bad snap or on fakes.
• Adam Thielen looked typically sharp. Give the Vikings credit for finding him at a tryout camp. But if they knew what they had, would they have used him mostly as a special teamer for his first two seasons? In 2014 he received fewer targets than Cordarrelle Patterson, Jarius Wright, Charles Johnson and Chase Ford.
• The ability to review pass interference calls may save the kind of big mistake that sent the Rams to the Super Bowl last year, but it will create more opportunities for officials to delay games and still mess up the final call. Zimmer admitted he and his peers are concerned about the process.
• Harrison Smith is still good. In the second quarter, Russell Wilson threw a nice pass to Tyler Lockett. Smith made a quick break on the ball and knocked it away without drawing an interference call. Few make that play.
• Kaare Vedvik probably won the punting competition on his first punt for the Vikings. He also appears to be their kickoff specialist, and he made an extra point.
• Laquon Treadwell might be the Vikings’ worst draft pick since Christian Ponder. At least Ponder was a key starter on a playoff team. Zimmer said he tried to “showcase” Treadwell in the second half. You showcase players you are trying to trade.
• In 2012, the Vikings chose Matt Kalil with the fourth pick in the draft, and Smith with the 29th. Kalil had an exceptional rookie year before he went into decline. Smith is a great player.
With the 66th pick, in the third round, the Vikings chose cornerback Josh Robinson. With the 75th pick, Seattle took Wilson, one of the NFL’s greatest players. Imagine Wilson with Adrian Peterson in the backfield, or Thielen and Stefon Diggs as his receivers. Then weep.
• The Vikings are correct in resting Dalvin Cook in the first two preseason games. They should rest him until the regular season. If healthy, he should gain 2,000 yards from scrimmage this season.
• When the Vikings used a second-round pick on Toby Gerhart in 2010, it was an obvious mistake. They were using a high pick on someone they didn’t want to see on the field much. He was Peterson’s caddie.
Using a third-round pick on Cook’s new backup, Alexander Mattison, makes more sense. Mattison looks like a good and affordable understudy.
• Expect the Vikings to stick with Sean Mannion as their backup QB. Kyle Sloter had another big preseason game but Zimmer praised Mannion’s camp performance, despite having an interception returned for a touchdown.
“He’s had a good camp, and he’s had a couple of good games,” Zimmer said. “It was one bad play and really it was a miscommunication between Beebe and himself.”