Last Friday, the Vikings offense struggled against the Buffalo Bills, who brought all kinds of blitzes. That aggressive approach by new Bills coach Doug Marrone was made a little easier for Vikings players and coaches to stomach knowing Adrian Peterson wasn't in the game to potentially ruin a blitz-happy plan.
Peterson admitted the Vikings weren't ready for the aggressive preseason plan the Bills executed, but he also said there was more that went into it.
"There was a lot that you guys don't know about that we just played the way we did," Peterson said. "But it wasn't the best, but we were able to learn from it by watching the film, made some adjustments and just made sure as an offensive unit everybody is communicating and everybody is on the same page and we're not caught off guard like that."
The Bills sent blitzes 11 of the 16 times Christian Ponder dropped to pass and continued an aggressive approach throughout the rest of the game.
Ponder was sacked twice in his 16 dropbacks and Vikings quarterbacks were hit five times in addition to the four sacks they took.
"We had some uncharacteristic miscues with fundamental stuff in Buffalo, so we've got to get those addressed and corrected from the get go, and then we want to continue to grow," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. "We need to do much better than we did in Buffalo. We have addressed that and think everyone looks forward to doing that."
The big issue, according to several Vikings players and coaches, is that the team doesn't game plan the opponent for the first two preseason games. They will start to do that for the third preseason game as they use that as a more representative week of preparation for a regular season game.
The film review on the 49ers starts Wednesday.
"We'll get into a normal routine. Fortunately it's a Sunday game and we play most of our games on a Sunday during the regular season, so it will replicate it pretty close," Musgrave said.
While it was clear that the Bills' approach to the second preseason game irritated the Vikings a bit, last year's stats show the Vikings can improve in their pass protection even when they do prepare for opponents.
In 2012, the Vikings gave up 122 pressures, according to STATS LLC, the ninth-most in the league. Only one of the eight teams that gave up more pressures, the Indianapolis Colts with 172 pressures, had a winning record (11-5).
Peterson, who will play some limited snaps in Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers, said the Vikings were also careful not to reveal too much in the preseason.
"We came out and tried to not show too much offensively, and on the other end Buffalo came out showing a lot with the fronts they were throwing at us," Peterson said. "It kind of caught us off guard at the beginning, but we were able to adjust throughout the game and kind of settle down and get back in sync."
Having Peterson back in the lineup, for however short a period that may be, should also help the offense.
"Without Adrian Peterson in our scheme, it impacts our offense tremendously because he's the focal point. Yeah, it definitely makes a difference. That will be obvious when we open up the season," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "… We didn't come into that ballgame (against the Bills) saying we wanted to show Buffalo, anyone, that we could be a dominant run team. We wanted to be able to do some things in the passing game. You saw us go up-tempo in what we call our red ball offense. We were working on some things that we wanted to take a look at and we'll do more of that this week as well. Our identity has not changed.
"I think every team that we play, they're going to have a plan for Adrian Peterson when you line up."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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