It was a rough game all around for the Minnesota Vikings during their Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, but the biggest disappoint could very well have been the lack of production from their offensive stars.
There was a lot of hype surrounding Teddy Bridgewater, who was entering his second year in the NFL, and Adrian Peterson, who missed 15 games last year. But even with all the accolades surrounding those two players during the offseason, neither was really able to produce.
It all started with the Vikings’ first offensive drive of the game. The special teams had just blocked a field goal attempt by the 49ers and returned the ball all the way to their 49ers 29-yard line. It put their offense in great field position, but instead of handing it off to their All-Pro running back, they threw it three straight times and had a three-and-out drive to start the game.
“We just had a game plan going into this game,” Bridgewater said of the opening drive. “We wanted to attack those guys. Adrian, he’s a guy that’s going to be a big part of this offense and we all understand that. Tonight I wish I could have started out 3 for 3 or at least hit one of those throws instead of just going three and out after a big play on special teams. Like I said, Adrian knows he’s a big part of this offense and we’re excited.”
The struggles that Bridgewater had on that opening drive continued, as he finished the first half just 9 of 15 for 94 yards.
The offensive struggles also carried over to Peterson, who only had four rushing attempts in the first half for 14 yards. But head coach Mike Zimmer said that his lack of carries was more because of the looks the defense was giving them.
“We scripted some plays for him and we were getting out of it based on formations, based on the defense that was in there,” Zimmer said. “So there was a lot of check-with-me’s on a lot of the stuff, so that’s why. We weren’t running the ball very good either. We weren’t throwing it; we weren’t running it.”
Peterson said he has confidence in offensive coordinator Norv Turner, but there are adjustments Peterson is making in his game.
“I felt a little hesitant a couple of times coming out of the shotgun,” Peterson said. “I felt pretty good picking up guys in protection. The couple of runs I had, I felt like I could’ve done better. A couple of them were pretty decent. Once I look at the film, I’ll be able to evaluate myself and see the things I could’ve done a lot better.”
Things did begin to pick up a little bit offensively for the Vikings in the second half, but they were never found any sort of rhythm. Bridgewater missed multiple open receivers and sailed a couple balls as well – one of which was intercepted.
“I missed some easy throws tonight,” the quarterback said. “Throws that either set us behind, behind the sticks, or plays that could have resulted in big plays. I just have to continue to try and get better each week.
“It was obvious there were some throws out there today. I could think of one with Kyle Rudolph running across the field, just overthrew him. Or up the seam, and I overthrew him also. It’s just some of those things; those are throws I make in practice nine out of 10 times. As an offense, we practice extremely well. We do some things extremely well; like I said we just had poor execution tonight.”
One reason for the erratic play by Bridgewater could have been because he constantly seemed to be under pressure. The Vikings are playing with a backup center and right tackle, and both the guards played different positions in 2014. But Zimmer seemed to think that Bridgewater might have been holding onto the ball a little too long, which was a problem he had early last season.
“I don’t know if it was all about the offensive line,” he said. “I think some of it was Teddy; a lot of it was Teddy tonight. Teddy did not play good.
“He was sped up, he just looked unsure. I think he was concerned about all the things defensively they were doing, and so it didn’t look like him.”
Because the Vikings fell behind early in the game, they had to resort to passing the ball more than they likely wanted to. And because the 49ers were playing in a lot of prevent defense late, Bridgewater was able to pad his stats some later in the game, finishing 23 of 32 for 231 yards and an interception.
Since the Vikings had to throw the ball so much in the second half, Peterson didn’t see the field much. Needing to throw the ball and pass protect, the Vikings used more of Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata later in the game than they did Peterson, and the starting running back finished the game with 10 carries for 31 yards.
The Vikings now move into a shortened week where they will face the Detroit Lions with Bridgewater and Peterson looking to bounce back.
“We’re very disappointed,” Bridgewater said. “It’s not the way we wanted to start the season and it was poor execution on our part. We were totally prepared going into this game, just didn’t execute well. So it was totally disappointing starting the season like that, but luckily our next game is six days away. We get the short week, get another chance to go out there and play a divisional opponent.”