vel

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

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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. 

Would love to see these reports each week Vel! Well thought out and non bias opinions here. 

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I think the Vikes and Falcons have very similar teams and styles. I honestly feel this game is going to come down to penalties and TOs. Whichever team plays a cleaner game will win the game, 24-18.

vel likes this

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11 minutes ago, vel said:

I can definitely commit to this every week. Same format for the initial post, then free for all posts about the opponent from there. 

Ok man, let's do it. 

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I actually do not feel great about this game. I do think the game is a 1 possession game regardless who wins. But I just think that Vikings D will do just enough to hang on. They just match up really well with our offense. I'll go 17-13 Vikings with our offense falling just short on a game winner.

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3 minutes ago, JD dirtybird21 said:

I actually do not feel great about this game. I do think the game is a 1 possession game regardless who wins. But I just think that Vikings D will do just enough to hang on. They just match up really well with our offense. I'll go 17-13 Vikings with our offense falling just short on a game winner.

My only concern is the young line starting out. I think it could be like a 2016 Bucs game and the board melts down if we lose.

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Just now, TD_Lover said:

My only concern is the young line starting out. I think it could be like a 2016 Bucs game and the board melts down if we lose.

I agree. But, losing on the road to a team like the Vikings is MUCH easier to accept than a home loss to a bad Bucs team. Especially one that was coached by our former OC. I get the meltdown to an extent from that game. 

I hope we pull it out this weekend. But the Vikings and the Eagles are the 2 teams in the NFC that scare me. 

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1 minute ago, TD_Lover said:

My only concern is the young line starting out. I think it could be like a 2016 Bucs game and the board melts down if we lose.

I can see that.  Love to see the Oline come out and dominate, just don't know if it'll happen.

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Just now, falconidae said:

I can see that.  Love to see the Oline come out and dominate, just don't know if it'll happen.

 

2 minutes ago, JD dirtybird21 said:

I agree. But, losing on the road to a team like the Vikings is MUCH easier to accept than a home loss to a bad Bucs team. Especially one that was coached by our former OC. I get the meltdown to an extent from that game. 

I hope we pull it out this weekend. But the Vikings and the Eagles are the 2 teams in the NFC that scare me. 

We need to have a TE/RB helping every play or have a check down option maybe even 2 check downs so we can keep Ryan clean.

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7 minutes ago, TD_Lover said:

Definitely think we have the perfect defense to stop their run game and make them one dimensional. 

Agreed. This is where I think Bailey shows this board why he's here. 

Him, Davison, Grady, and Senat running a heavy rotation of Bear fronts against those shrunked formations. 

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5 minutes ago, vel said:

Agreed. This is where I think Bailey shows this board why he's here. 

Him, Davison, Grady, and Senat running a heavy rotation of Bear fronts against those shrunked formations. 

If we can keep the Vikings lead to 3 or under, I would feel a lot better about the 4th quarter. If it comes down to we need a TD to tie/win, we are in trouble.

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Diggs and Thielen are just too much for this secondary right now. Really not trying to overhype them but they are 2 studs ripe in their prime who just posted their best statistical seasons last year. I can see a lot of laundry on the field this Sunday. We’ll definitely get a good look at Oliver.

If we don’t get decent pressure and allow Cousins to sit in the pocket, he will carve you up like the best of them. Kirk is top 10 if you ask me and he’s not scared to sling it. I’ve seen him make some beautiful throws in his career and at a cool age of 31 I don’t think he’s reached his ceiling yet.

The tidbit about their OL is somewhat comforting knowing they may have weak links and inexperience on the interior. I’m anxious/excited to see our DL matchup with them. Just as Zimmer may look to expose our RT situation, I want Quinn to welcome that rookie center to the NFL in the worse way lol.

Dalvin Cooks game speed has always been sick and fun to watch. He makes the 40 yard dash look useless. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him outrun just about every guy on defense so we need to put a lid on him early. If we can keep him below 4.2ypc I like our chances to keep it close but if he gets going I’m putting my good hard earned money on the Vikes.

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7 minutes ago, vel said:

Agreed. This is where I think Bailey shows this board why he's here. 

Him, Davison, Grady, and Senat running a heavy rotation of Bear fronts against those shrunked formations. 

Not only that but we have the speed at LB to get to the edge on the outside handoffs.

I think our DL has the ability to hold their ground and create gaps for our speed to shoot through. A power scheme is the only thing I'd be iffy on but with Davison and Bailey I think we handle that too.

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Since I expect a number of Bear fronts from this game, given the Vikings plans to incorporate much more Ace personnel and establishing the run, might as well throw in some images on that:

01 BS vs 12p [ND]

03 Bear Fits vs Ace

This pretty much shows as a 3-4 or a 5-2. Formation doesn't matter. Assignment does. In this scenario, you can have a front of Vic, Bailey, Davison, Grady, and Takk across the front, with Debo and Campbell in the box and Neal buzzing. That gives you an 8 man box with tight windows. The stress would be on the corners for quick throws, but with Cousins likely to be under center, they self negate anything beyond a quick one step slant here, right into the teeth of the defense. It's basically boiling it down to a fist fight. Or you can run some 46 level Bear front, like:

04 Bear Str Roll

The more runs they can force to the sideline, the more the advantage shifts to our LBs run and chase ability. The following is a prime example of the above in action:

You see first, the Bear front. Then you see the SS buzzing down. This is a 2nd & 1 situation. Offense is showing run. We're ready for it. Result? Stop for a loss. Why? First, Takk sets a very strong and forceful edge, essentially taking away any bounce potential. Second, the interior Bear front controls their gaps and doesn't let the OL get to the second level. As a result, you see the RB hesitate without a clean look, Campbell comes flying around clean to attack the FB and Takk making the easy TFL. 

Here's one where you can see the set up and play in action (reference: UGA-ND '17)

06 Bear vs Slice (S)

You see the set up, giving the QB a muddled look up front and misreading the play, keeping the ball and trying to beat the EDGE to the sideline. All about gap discipline and integrity. 

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1 hour ago, TD_Lover said:

Definitely think we have the perfect defense to stop their run game and make them one dimensional. 

I agree.  If the Vikings win it’s because their interior guard play has greatly improved

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Just not sure yet how this team is really going to look. 

Our offense averaged 291 passing and 98 rushing per game in 2018.

Our defense averaged 260 passing and 125 rushing allowed per game.

We clearly need to improve these numbers.  And right now, on paper, it really looks like we should be able to do this quite handily.

 

Receiving corps and QB are elite and Matt should get his 300-325 passing with a couple TD’s.  Hopefully one or fewer turnovers and only a couple sacks at most.  If it’s worse than this, we’re probably struggling bad in this game.

Running game is a mystery right now because no clue how the OL will do with opening running lanes. Hopefully we go for at least 120+ and at least one rushing TD. We attacked the short yardage problem this offseason, so I see us converting a few more third downs and controlling time of possession.

Matt Bryant was 88% last year, hopefully he is 90%+ this year.  I see him averaging 2 FG’s a game.

Defense was clearly bad against the run last year, but with additions like Davison and Bailey, plus getting our injured starters back, I think we can hold teams under 110 yards a game on average. 

Our secondary shouldn’t be worse, so I expect them to hold teams to 260 passing a game or even better.  Especially if we can get more pressure on the QB this year, which we should.

Hopefully we end up at least +1 in turnovers every game.  We got some real ballhawks and bruisers on the D, so there’s a good chance of this.

ST just needs to keep our average starting field position +8 over the opponents average starting field position (ie. us ~30 yd line, them ~22 yd line), and no turnovers.  That’s very doable and makes a huge difference.

 

So this game against Minnesota I see us with 2 passing TD’s, 1 Rushing TD, and 2 Bryant FG’s, and the D holding them to 1 passing TD, 1 rushing TD, and 3 FG’s. Falcons win 27-23.

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29 minutes ago, Falconcheff said:

Good gravy, 47.5 o\u ???

Might have to go through the couch to put some change on the under...

Nah most of my wealth is stored under the driver's seat in my truck.....Or in between those tight spots that I don't want to deal with.

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My goodness!!!!

This is some good quality football talk.

Thank you so much.

In my opinion...it comes down to the performance of our OL vs the performance of an erratic Kirk Cousins.  

My money (I have "invested" $15 on this) is on our OL gelling enough, even this early on in the season, to win.  Just not a fan of Kirk, he has never lived up to the hype when he plays us.

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