vel

Rise Up...or Get Gone! Scouting the Opponent: The Minnesota Vikings

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Great write up. 

2 hours ago, vel said:

The two times we've played the Vikings under DQ, neither team has scored 3 TDs, we've lost both, with the most recent loss being a 14-9 close call with a banged up secondary.

We had a banged up oline that game also. Thats the game that Levitre tore his tricep and Garland took over st LG.

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Great post vel. Like last season, this season opens up with a very tough road game against a very tough and balanced opponent. The falcons are gonna have to be very fundamentally sound this game, in execution and play calling. They aint gonna win this game with fancy and flash, no sir, if they do win it will be because they whipped the man in front of them on the LOS.

IMO..The key will be if the falcons can maintain possessions on offense by running the ball early, and stopping the run early. If the falcons can score on their opening possession and force the vikes and Cousins into throwing the ball, Takk and co gone eat and the falcons win.

 

 

 

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Zimmer bases out of quarters. I’d expect us to work the intermediate area on early downs to play with those safety’s eye discipline and keep the chains in our favor.

This ain’t the defense we can afford to stay in long distances against. When Zimmer gets you in long downs then that’s where those pressure looks come from with all that Double-A look.

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Great breakdown. I wanted to add, Sark was our OC last time we played them. We couldnt score for sh*t. But on the other side the Vikings didnt do much better themselves. Now we Koetter back and a revamped oline. Should be interesting. 

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Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 11:30 AM

Lunchbreak: The Athletic Dives into ‘Key Differences’ for 2019 Vikings Offense

 

Young, Lindsey 2016

Lindsey Young

ASSISTANT EDITOR & STAFF WRITER

https://www.vikings.com/news/lunchbreak-vikings-key-differences-2019-offense

It’s no secret that the Vikings offense will look different in 2019 than it did in 2018.

The unit will be guided this year by Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski and with the influence of Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor Gary Kubiak, who both have emphasized the importance of being “multiple” on offense.

What exactly does this mean, and what differences can Vikings fans expect to see during the upcoming season?

The Athletic’s Arif Hasan recently took a deep dive into Minnesota’s offense and predicted that the “core concepts” will have a new look in 2019. He wrote:

This year, the Vikings offense is clearly focusing on tight formations with bigger bodies, lining up with either two running backs or two tight ends often. One way to look at this is who they put on the field on first-and-10, the most common down and distance — what teams do here is what you get when you boil down an offense to its essential elements.

According to Hasan, the Vikings were in “11” personnel (one running back, one tight end and three receivers) on first-and-10 situations 61.6 percent of the time in 2018. Conversely, through three preseason games this summer, Minnesota has been in 11 personnel on 13.4 percent of its offensive snaps.

Instead, they’ve been in “21” and “12” personnel, either putting two running backs and one tight end or two tight ends and one running back on the field, with only two wide receivers. They’ve been in “21” 38.8 percent of the time and “12” 28.4 percent of the time.

Hasan went on to explain that the Vikings have “tightened formations and eschewed shotgun looks for under-center looks” with quarterback Kirk Cousins.

In 2018, the Vikings were under center on only 40 percent of their snaps and only 49 percent of snaps on first-and-10 …. In the preseason to this point, the Vikings have increased their likelihood of going under center to about 75 percent overall and 70 percent on first-and-10.

 

Tim's Take:

I look for them to try and run. They have a shiny new rookie Center though. 

We will run too.

Running and defense is my kind of game.

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3 minutes ago, Tim Mazetti said:

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 11:30 AM

Tim's Take:

I look for them to try and run. They have a shiny new rookie Center though. 

We will run too.

Running and defense is my kind of game.

Grady Jarrett: L5iy.gif

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59 minutes ago, vel said:

WELCOME TO THE 2019 NFL SEASON LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!

We have survived the hardest part of the year and are back to kick this thing off again. With that, I wanted to start something new this year, a weekly thread of opponent specific scouting articles, Twitter threads, videos, etc. that we keep current during the week as one common place for what the Falcons are getting themselves into each week. I think it would help keep the boards cleaner and spur football discussion. 

Naturally, we can kick it off with the Minnesota Vikings :

Image result for vikings thumbnail

Head Coach: Mike Zimmer
Offensive Style: Outside Zone Running with Play Action
Defensive Style: Aggressive, attacking 4-3 defense

2018 Record: 8-7-1

The Way I See It: The Vikings are going to be a tough out. They are led by their defense, which has been one of the best units in the NFL the past few years, finishing no worse than #8 in DVOA since 2016. It is a unit that has grown together, with very few weaknesses. They stop the run well. They rush the passer well. They cover well. They are smart and disciplined and led by one of the best defensive coaches in the NFL in Mike Zimmer. It's going to be tough sledding. Their offense is pretty well equipped, with one of the best 1-2 punches at WR in Diggs/Thielen, Dalvin Cook being healthy and looking lethal, and Kyle Rudolph being a legit Pro Bowl TE. With the offensive scheme changes, resembling the Shanahan style we've come used to in Atlanta, it will be interesting to see how their new offense looks. The OC is Kevin Stefanski, but is buoyed by Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison, a triumvirate of offensive minds similar to our current set up.  

How We Match Up: Overall, this is a very equal match. Both teams have very strong, deep rosters. Going into week one, there are no major injuries to speak of. This is a true tilt of playoff caliber teams out of the gate. It will be a very good test of the OC changes on both sides and DQ taking over as DC on his side. 

When the Falcons are on Offense: This is going to be the match up you pay money for. Our offense is threatening at every spot. Truly threatening. The Vikings have enough talent to match up though, which is something not every team will be able to do this year. They have the LBs to keep up with Hooper and Freeman out of the backfield, the CBs to deploy a nickel look and not be intimidated, the cerebral safety that can give Matt fits, and the pass rush to tie it all together. It's going to take top notch communication along the OL (thanks Jets) to navigate this front to give Matt and the weapons time. If Sark were the OC, I would not be excited about this matchup. But with Koetter and Gang, they will be able to devise some looks that will get this group going. Thankfully, Money Matt is back because we may be settling for FGs more than we care to this week. The interesting development to watch during the week? Right tackle? Do they roll with Sambrailo or Gono? I don't think McGary gets the call this week. This is going to be a 60 minute tilt and if he was winded vs the Jags in the preseason, this isn't the time to trot him out there. Whoever it is, they will have their hands full trying to handle Griffen/Hunter on the edges. You know Zimmer will look to exploit this match up so watch out! This group will have some tough sledding, so don't be discouraged if they don't pop off a 30 point week one special to get your juices flowing. 

When the Falcons are on Defense: This is where the Falcons need to make up the difference. Our defense has the talent to mimic the Vikings unit. The question is execution. Are Vic and Takk ready to get after QBs? Is Debo ready to play? Rico and Neal? A lot of questions that can be answered with 60 minutes of football on Sunday. Optimistically, I think this group is ready. They showed very well in preseason. Again, it's preseason but that was our first glimpse. Outside of some initial first drive jitters/excitement, this unit showed up time and time again. There was consistent pressure, consistent run defense, and solid pass coverage. It was nice to see. What makes it tough is that week one, new OCs and scheme, you aren't scheming against the opponent just yet, but the players you are playing against and their weaknesses. Which there are more than enough on the Vikings offense. Kirk Cousins to begin with. He is a very inconsistent QB. You don't know which version you are getting, the highly accurate "YOU LIKE THAT?!" Kirk Cousins or the "I can't hit a five yard drag" Kirk Cousins. We saw this inconsistency in the preseason already. With a much more aggressive scheme and the talent to contest every throw, there is an opportunity for Kirk to get frazzled. It's going to be paramount to keep him in third and long situations and put the game in his hands more often than not. That comes down to stopping the run and controlling the LOS. Which again we have the horses to do that for a chance. The Vikings OL is very average. Pat Elflein is the clearest weak link, grading out at 43.5 per PFF last year (worst OL in the league). He's at LG. He hasn't looked much better through preseason either. On the other side, Josh Kline has been pretty mediocre himself as of late, having just given up 38 pressures last year and landed as the 53rd rated OG per PFF. Maybe a change of scenery could be beneficial, as he wasn't always a bad OL. Between them is rookie Garrett Bradbury, who I was a fan of during the draft season. I think he's a perfect fit in their offense, but DQ will be smart to repeatedly challenge the interior of this group, as there are clear weak links and none of them are above 305lbs. Force Bradbury to be cerebral and he's going to have to help Eflein, which will stress Kline. When you come equipped with a Grady Jarrett off the bus, this is the biggest opportunity to exploit, clogging lanes on run downs to prevent movement there and sending blitzes and stunts galore at this group on long down and distance situations. If they can take advantage of the Vikings OL (am I really thinking this is possible?), the Falcons defense can cause some chaos and with the luck of a turnover or two, can really put the offense in position to stretch their wings a little bit. It's going to come down to winning the LOS repeatedly. 

Vegas Line: Vegas has the Vikings as a 4 point favorite, with the o/u set at 47.5. Take it for what you will. 

Prediction: The two times we've played the Vikings under DQ, neither team has scored 3 TDs, we've lost both, with the most recent loss being a 14-9 close call with a banged up secondary. This time, fully healthy, I think the Falcons grow up a little bit in week one and show the rest of the NFL that an injury riddled 2018 isn't an indictment on who they are as a team. Just one year removed from being the only back to back postseason NFC team, this Falcons team is pissed off and looking to prove a point. I think they can do that here, scraping out a tough 24-17 victory, rightfully putting the game just out of reach with a Matt Bryant field goal. 

great write up but I actually thought neal and allen looked rusty, im not worried about them in the long run but for the first couple of games I am, same as with debo being his first game action

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Love to see the falcons win the LOS on both sides for a change. On offense, that probably requires an extra lineman or Stocker most plays, maybe Smith if he's comfortable, got to have enough run game to make the play action work. Ryan kills it with play action.

On defense, they should have a nice 8 man rotation on the DLine that can get pressure on the QB and cut off running lanes.

What I'm hoping is that bad Cousins shows up and that the Falcons can get a couple of easy  scores that take the pressure off everyone.

Falcons come out of Minn with, say, a 31-17 win, be a nice start to the season.

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Very good write up.

I'm interested to see the personnel groupings Quinn use in this game.

As usual he's elected to forego the big space eater in the middle. Davison will counted on to stay healthy and hold his ground with Senat giving him a breather on 1st and maybe 2nd down.

The Falcons look good on the edges with Clayborne, Allen, Cominsky and sometimes Crawford and Takk. Lots of bodies there.

The LBers are fast. Very fast. But lighter than most.

Keeping Cousins off balance will be key. That Kubiak influenced offense can keep the defense off balanced but if the defense can stay disciplined and adjust, the pass rush may be able to rattle Cousins.

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Gonna be very close, but were due for a win against the vikings. I see us losing 19-17 but I am hoping for a 21-19 win. 

vel likes this

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8 minutes ago, athell said:

Awesome write up @vel

I want to say Capt. Kirk is 0-3 against us, with the last time being the game Alford had the pick 6 along the sideline to close it out.  Look forward to him going 0-4 on Sunday!

GUYS FOOTBALL IS BACK ON SUNDAY WE MADE IT

Speak for yourself

images-33.jpeg.f6330baddcd49db003cee7e858d892b5.jpeg

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Here's more on the Vikings offensive scheme changes and the impacts:

Quote

A Well-Tailored Offensive Scheme

Perhaps more important than a deep bench of experienced coaches to help Kevin Stefanski, who knows the players well having been a position coach for the past several years, is Kubiak’s scheme, and how well tailored it is for the Vikings players.

I did a piece earlier this year on Kubiak’s offense, and some of the key elements of it, and I’ll go through that again now, matching those elements with Vikings personnel.

OUTSIDE ZONE RUN SCHEME

The base run play in Kubiak’s scheme is the outside zone run, where the offensive line attempts to stretch the defense out to the boundary, and create a seam for the running back to exploit by either pushing defenders out wide, or pinning them inside.

Having a back that has the vision to see a seam develop, the quickness and speed to sneak through it, and the elusiveness in the open field to exploit it is ideal.

And this is the skill set Dalvin Cook has been using to do just that in his days at Florida State, and to a lesser extent so far with the Vikings.

And if you were to draw up a prototypical running back for the outside zone run, it would look just like Dalvin Cook. Indeed, coming out Dalvin Cook was projected a best fit for an outside zone scheme by PFF, and really most any scheme by other analysts. I did a piece on Cook after he was drafted, and his limited rushing attempts in the NFL have confirmed what his college tape and stats say about him.

Last year Dalvin Cook’s PFF Elusive Rating, which combines missed tackles per attempt with yards after contact per attempt, was 4th best among RBs with at least 100 attempts. His 81.9 rating was over twice that of Ezekiel Elliot and Joe Mixon, and nearly so for Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara. It was also notably better than Saquon Barkley and Melvin Gordon. Only Nick Chubb, Derrick Henry and Kareem Hunt had higher ratings than Cook.

The other aspect of the outside zone run scheme is how well suited the Vikings offensive line is to it.

First off, the Vikings top draft pick, starting center Garrett Bradbury, has been called the best zone blocking lineman in the draft, and one of the best center prospects in the past several drafts. He played in an outside zone scheme in college with NC State, so he’s well versed in the scheme and techniques, and has demonstrated them extremely well and against top competition. So, while he’s a rookie, he’s a perfect fit for Kubiak’s running scheme, and Kubiak himself had his eye on Bradbury for the past year for that reason.

The tackles are also a key part of the outside zone run because the running back typically keys off the tackle’s block to make his cut either inside or outside him. I put together a tape of Riley Reiff last season that gives you an idea how he could fare on outside zone runs this season:

It’s not a perfect comparison, and I think he could improve with some outside zone specific coaching - which he’s getting - to work on that technique. But overall he looks like he could hold up well in this scheme.

Brian O’Neill was not as strong generally in run blocking last season, and also there weren’t a whole lot of outside runs his way last season, so he’s a bit harder to judge based on what he did last season. He is, however, ideal from the standpoint of having the athletic ability to make the blocks required of him. I did a piece recently on the Vikings offensive linemen, and O’Neill ranks pretty high in terms of short area quickness and lateral move ability, arm length and intelligence, so he has a very good skill set to work with as an outside zone blocker. He also could benefit a lot from technique coaching. O’Neill is a guy that’s usually in the right place to make the block - he’s seldom beaten from the get-go- but needs more finishing technique, whether that’s on the line or out in space in the second level.

That leaves the guards. I did a piece on Josh Kline after he was acquired, and he looks to be fairly solid as a run blocker. I don’t see him being the weak link. He’s not an absolute stud every play, but he wins his share, battles tough every play, and does have some monster blocks in his tape.

Pat Elflein, on the other hand, the best thing I can say is that he’s probably better in a zone scheme than a power scheme. But otherwise he looks to be the weak link. His tape last year wasn’t good (he was the lowest rated offensive lineman in the NFL last season, according to PFF), but moving to guard and an outside zone scheme makes a change that can only lead to improvement, right? I’m not too sure about that, but we’ll have to see if he improves in training camp and in pre-season action. The good news is there are other guys that can play left guard that have better traits and track records than Elflein, so the Vikings are not locked into him as a starting left guard. It may be that offensive line coach Rick Dennison is able to correct some things with Elflein to make him more serviceable, but I also hope he is objective in how Elflein stands relative to the competition and isn’t afraid to make a change if need be.

The other thing about Elflein is that if he can impede the progress of his defender some, even if he isn’t able to take him out of the play, that combined with better blocks from his line mates can still open up seams for a running back. It’s not ideal, but with at least serviceable run blockers at the other offensive line positions, if Elflein proves to be a weak link it can be manageable - more so in an outside zone scheme than the inside zone scheme the Vikings ran last season.

All of these factors add up to an outside zone scheme being probably the best fit for the Vikings rushing offense, all things considered.

PLAY-ACTION PASSING / UNDER CENTER

Another major element of Kubiak’s offensive scheme is the play-action pass from under-center.Peyton Manning excepted, Kubiak has always ran his offense primarily (around 70% or so) from under-center.

That’s good news for Kirk Cousins, who’s career passer rating is 19 points higher from under-center than from shotgun (109.1 vs. 90.1). His sack rate under-center is lower - 4.8% vs. 5.6% in shotgun, his interception rate is also lower- 1.4% vs. 2.8% in shotgun. His adjusted yards per attempt is also higher under-center than shotgun (9.44 vs. 6.77).

It should also be noted that all of Cousins’ sack-fumbles last season, and all but one in his career, have come in shotgun formation.

Last year Cousins operated from the shotgun on 78% of his passing attempts. That will likely decrease by over 50% this season, given the historical average for Kubiak’s quarterbacks in Texas and Baltimore.

In 2014, when Kubiak became offensive coordinator for the Ravens, Joe Flacco went from 85% shotgun the previous year, to 37% in 2014. His passer rating jump 18 points, his sack rate declined over 50%, and his adjusted net yard per attempt jumped by over 2 yards. His interception rate dropped from 3.6% to 2.2%, and he threw for more yards despite 60 fewer passing attempts. Flacco was also under pressure on 4% fewer of his dropbacks according to PFF, going from 35.6% to 31.6% of his dropbacks being under pressure.

If Kubiak was able to get this type of improvement from Joe Flacco in 2014, imagine what he can do for Cousins in 2019 - especially given Cousins’ track record under-center vs. shotgun. A 10-15 point increase in his passer rating would likely put him in contention to be best in the league, given top passer ratings of the recent years.

The other thing about this key element of Kubiak’s offensive scheme and how it fits with Kirk Cousins at quarterback is the play-action pass.

According to PFF, Kirk Cousins has the 2nd highest passer rating in play-action passes of any quarterback since he became a starter in 2015, among QBs with at least 100 play-action dropbacks. In 2015, he had the top passer rating in play-action at 125.0. In 2016, he was 12th with a 100.8 passer rating. In 2017 he was 2nd with a 118.7 passer rating, and in 2018 he was 5th with a 116.1 passer rating.

Cousins has spent time in the past, particularly in Washington, working on his play-action sell technique in order to get linebackers and safeties to bite on it more. That has paid off in terms of better success in play-action. The only problem is that it wasn’t used as much last year as it might have been. Adding more play-action passes, as a percentage of the total, would likely increase Cousins’ efficiency.

RECEIVERS

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, both excellent route runners, are a perfect fit for any west coast offensive scheme - Kubiak’s included.

Beyond that, there is the question of the third receiver for the Vikings. The past couple years it’s been Laquon Treadwell, who has failed to produce in that role. Going forward, there will be changes. First, the player in that role will change. Second, the role will change too in Kubiak’s offense.

Kubiak’s scheme uses a lot of two tight-end formations, and also some hybrid-type players that can lineup in multiple positions in the backfield, slot, or out wide. For the Vikings, newly drafted tight-end Irv Smith Jr., will take on one of those hybrid roles, most likely shifting between backfield, in-line, and slot positions - as he did during his college career at Alabama.

Tight-end Tyler Conklin looks to take on another of these hybrid roles, most likely shifting between in-line, slot, and wide out positions.

Of course these two tight-ends will complement the traditional in-line tight-end role occupied by Kyle Rudolph. Additionally, Kubiak’s scheme also employs a fullback that can also be a hybrid-type player as well. C.J. Ham will take on what may be a bit of an expanded role for him, and early reports suggest the athletic fullback will thrive in this role.

So, that third receiver job will likely be filled by a committee of Irv Smith Jr., Tyler Conklin, and C.J. Ham most of the time. But of course there is also a competition for the third wide receiver job, which looks to be shared by the smaller slot receiver Chad Beebe, and the larger outside receiver Jordan Taylor, depending on the matchup desired.

Overall, the Vikings have all players to fill the various hybrid and traditional receiver roles employed in Kubiak’s scheme - and fill them well. That should lead to more production than Laquon Treadwell had in the past.

RUN - PASS PLAY MIX

Perhaps the most drastic change in 2018 from 2017 was the run-pass play mix. The Vikings went from being 2nd in rushing attempts in 2017 to 27th in 2018. They averaged 22 rushing attempts per game in 2018, down from just over 31 the year before. Yards per attempt actually went up in 2018 though, from 3.9 to 4.2.

Historically, when Gary Kubiak has been offensive coordinator or head coach over the past ten years, his offense has averaged at least 25 rushing attempts per game, and as many as 34. They’ve also almost always averaged 4 yards per carry or better. And Dalvin Cook has averaged 4.7 yards per carry over his short career.

All this adds up to some simple math.

25 rushing attempts per game x 4.0 yards per rushing attempt = 100 yards per game.

You know how many games the Vikings have lost over the past 63 games (almost 4 seasons) when they’ve rushed for over 100 yards ?

Zero.

Summing It Up - Why the Vikings Offense Will Be Good This Year

The Vikings spent the off-season revamping their offensive coaching staff, and installing a new scheme that will feature a few key elements that are well tailored to the Vikings offensive personnel.

First, the outside zone run and commitment to running the ball should take the pressure off of the Vikings offensive line and Kirk Cousins, while giving Dalvin Cook and the other Vikings running backs more opportunities to showcase their talent.

The Vikings have an ideal outside zone running back in Dalvin Cook, who’s one of the most elusive backs in the NFL and well suited and experienced running an outside zone game.

At the same time, the Vikings have invested in offensive line talent best suited to the outside zone run game - and also likely to upgrade a couple spots over last season.

Meanwhile, the key elements of the passing game coincide with the strengths of Kirk Cousins - namely play-action passing from under-center - and will also likely help minimize one of his weaknesses - fumbles. It should also help the offensive line by adding more balance and disguise to the Vikings play calls.

Beyond that, the Vikings will have a new third receiver - a variable chess piece to create matchup advantages and hopefully improve production over that of Laquon Treadwell in years past.

Lastly, the Vikings offense will remain committed to the run, and a balanced, complimentary approach. This is what the Kubiak offense has done from it’s inception, and this is what the Vikings coaching staff has indicated is their priority.

And when the Vikings rush for over 100 yards, they win.

The Vikings have all the weapons, and a stout defense as well. This season, they’ll have a well tailored scheme and experienced coaching on offense to better utilize those weapons,

It’s time to get excited about this Vikings offense.

It’s gonna be good.

https://www.dailynorseman.com/2019/7/28/8930890/time-get-excited-about-minnesota-vikings-offense

This game is going to test the discipline of this team at every level. It helps that this scheme isn't new to this defense. But with emotions high, they are going to have to be sure of their gaps and assignments every snap. 

That's one thing I think DQ focused on, especially in the running game. Alford and Poole particularly tended to get a little loose in their soundness in coverage, but upfront, guys like McClain and Shelby were inconsistent in their run fits. Replace those guys with Bailey and Davison, guys who are known for their physical play in the run game and being gap sound and you have improved defensive integrity. 

I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of 5-2 looks Sunday as well, to combat the heavy dose of outside zone. We know it's coming. We know what it struggles to block. We have the personnel for it. Want to bottle it down and play 12 personnel? Bring it. 

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2 minutes ago, Osiruz said:

Gonna be very close, but were due for a win against the vikings. I see us losing 19-17 but I am hoping for a 21-19 win. 

Lol I just find it hard to verbally predict a loss in writing. The universe and such things. But I agree. It's going to be a very tough game for 60 minutes. I have my whiskey ready. 

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1 minute ago, vel said:

Lol I just find it hard to verbally predict a loss in writing. The universe and such things. But I agree. It's going to be a very tough game for 60 minutes. I have my whiskey ready. 

That's just one of those teams (Eagles, Patriots) we can never seem to beat. Their defense gives us fits every time we play and is stingier than ours. If we rely on the pass to set up the run we might escape with a win.

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Great write up. I’m hoping our edge guys can maintain their discipline and not crash in on those run plays. 

I’m still nervous about this game. As stated above, Rico and Neal look Rusty. I haven’t seen Rico miss tackles like he did in preseason and Neal got beat a couple times by tight ends but the QB made bad throws. 

With that said, I am cautiously optimistic about what the defense will do. I’m starting them in 3 fantasy leagues so here’s to that. 

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26 minutes ago, Osiruz said:

That's just one of those teams (Eagles, Patriots) we can never seem to beat. Their defense gives us fits every time we play and is stingier than ours. If we rely on the pass to set up the run we might escape with a win.

Falcons Oline hasn't been healthy when we've played the Vikings recently, one of those losses was when falcons lost 3 Olinemen in the same game and Toilolo played from the second quarter on as the RT.

Think the Falcons have the strongest lines they've had since Ryan has been here. Don't know if the Oline will be coherent enough to win this game, but, it's bigger, stronger and faster than it has been since we had the Oline coach that decided normal sized human beings would make a good Oline.

DLine doesn't have  a Donald or  Mack on it, but it's solid 9 deep.

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2 hours ago, vel said:

WELCOME TO THE 2019 NFL SEASON LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!

We have survived the hardest part of the year and are back to kick this thing off again. With that, I wanted to start something new this year, a weekly thread of opponent specific scouting articles, Twitter threads, videos, etc. that we keep current during the week as one common place for what the Falcons are getting themselves into each week. I think it would help keep the boards cleaner and spur football discussion. 

Naturally, we can kick it off with the Minnesota Vikings :

Image result for vikings thumbnail

Head Coach: Mike Zimmer
Offensive Style: Outside Zone Running with Play Action
Defensive Style: Aggressive, attacking 4-3 defense

2018 Record: 8-7-1

The Way I See It: The Vikings are going to be a tough out. They are led by their defense, which has been one of the best units in the NFL the past few years, finishing no worse than #8 in DVOA since 2016. It is a unit that has grown together, with very few weaknesses. They stop the run well. They rush the passer well. They cover well. They are smart and disciplined and led by one of the best defensive coaches in the NFL in Mike Zimmer. It's going to be tough sledding. Their offense is pretty well equipped, with one of the best 1-2 punches at WR in Diggs/Thielen, Dalvin Cook being healthy and looking lethal, and Kyle Rudolph being a legit Pro Bowl TE. With the offensive scheme changes, resembling the Shanahan style we've come used to in Atlanta, it will be interesting to see how their new offense looks. The OC is Kevin Stefanski, but is buoyed by Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison, a triumvirate of offensive minds similar to our current set up.  

How We Match Up: Overall, this is a very equal match. Both teams have very strong, deep rosters. Going into week one, there are no major injuries to speak of. This is a true tilt of playoff caliber teams out of the gate. It will be a very good test of the OC changes on both sides and DQ taking over as DC on his side. 

When the Falcons are on Offense: This is going to be the match up you pay money for. Our offense is threatening at every spot. Truly threatening. The Vikings have enough talent to match up though, which is something not every team will be able to do this year. They have the LBs to keep up with Hooper and Freeman out of the backfield, the CBs to deploy a nickel look and not be intimidated, the cerebral safety that can give Matt fits, and the pass rush to tie it all together. It's going to take top notch communication along the OL (thanks Jets) to navigate this front to give Matt and the weapons time. If Sark were the OC, I would not be excited about this matchup. But with Koetter and Gang, they will be able to devise some looks that will get this group going. Thankfully, Money Matt is back because we may be settling for FGs more than we care to this week. The interesting development to watch during the week? Right tackle? Do they roll with Sambrailo or Gono? I don't think McGary gets the call this week. This is going to be a 60 minute tilt and if he was winded vs the Jags in the preseason, this isn't the time to trot him out there. Whoever it is, they will have their hands full trying to handle Griffen/Hunter on the edges. You know Zimmer will look to exploit this match up so watch out! This group will have some tough sledding, so don't be discouraged if they don't pop off a 30 point week one special to get your juices flowing. 

When the Falcons are on Defense: This is where the Falcons need to make up the difference. Our defense has the talent to mimic the Vikings unit. The question is execution. Are Vic and Takk ready to get after QBs? Is Debo ready to play? Rico and Neal? A lot of questions that can be answered with 60 minutes of football on Sunday. Optimistically, I think this group is ready. They showed very well in preseason. Again, it's preseason but that was our first glimpse. Outside of some initial first drive jitters/excitement, this unit showed up time and time again. There was consistent pressure, consistent run defense, and solid pass coverage. It was nice to see. What makes it tough is that week one, new OCs and scheme, you aren't scheming against the opponent just yet, but the players you are playing against and their weaknesses. Which there are more than enough on the Vikings offense. Kirk Cousins to begin with. He is a very inconsistent QB. You don't know which version you are getting, the highly accurate "YOU LIKE THAT?!" Kirk Cousins or the "I can't hit a five yard drag" Kirk Cousins. We saw this inconsistency in the preseason already. With a much more aggressive scheme and the talent to contest every throw, there is an opportunity for Kirk to get frazzled. It's going to be paramount to keep him in third and long situations and put the game in his hands more often than not. That comes down to stopping the run and controlling the LOS. Which again we have the horses to do that for a chance. The Vikings OL is very average. Pat Elflein is the clearest weak link, grading out at 43.5 per PFF last year (worst OL in the league). He's at LG. He hasn't looked much better through preseason either. On the other side, Josh Kline has been pretty mediocre himself as of late, having just given up 38 pressures last year and landed as the 53rd rated OG per PFF. Maybe a change of scenery could be beneficial, as he wasn't always a bad OL. Between them is rookie Garrett Bradbury, who I was a fan of during the draft season. I think he's a perfect fit in their offense, but DQ will be smart to repeatedly challenge the interior of this group, as there are clear weak links and none of them are above 305lbs. Force Bradbury to be cerebral and he's going to have to help Eflein, which will stress Kline. When you come equipped with a Grady Jarrett off the bus, this is the biggest opportunity to exploit, clogging lanes on run downs to prevent movement there and sending blitzes and stunts galore at this group on long down and distance situations. If they can take advantage of the Vikings OL (am I really thinking this is possible?), the Falcons defense can cause some chaos and with the luck of a turnover or two, can really put the offense in position to stretch their wings a little bit. It's going to come down to winning the LOS repeatedly. 

Vegas Line: Vegas has the Vikings as a 4 point favorite, with the o/u set at 47.5. Take it for what you will. 

Prediction: The two times we've played the Vikings under DQ, neither team has scored 3 TDs, we've lost both, with the most recent loss being a 14-9 close call with a banged up secondary. This time, fully healthy, I think the Falcons grow up a little bit in week one and show the rest of the NFL that an injury riddled 2018 isn't an indictment on who they are as a team. Just one year removed from being the only back to back postseason NFC team, this Falcons team is pissed off and looking to prove a point. I think they can do that here, scraping out a tough 24-17 victory, rightfully putting the game just out of reach with a Matt Bryant field goal. 

@JD dirtybird21

@VTCrunkler

If @vel is motivated to do one such analysis each week, we should pin this thread

Osiruz and ATLskinjob like this

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