Minnesota Vikings will look at ‘all options’ to improve protection

Coming off a loss that Mike Zimmer termed “embarrassing,” a 21-10 defeat against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings will look at all options to rectify the situation.

One day after the Minnesota Vikings suffered their first loss of the season that featured four turnovers after turning the ball over only once in the previous five games, “all options” are on the table for improvement and correction, according to head coach Mike Zimmer.

Starting quarterback Sam Bradford was sacked six times against the Philadelphia Eagles and the offensive line took the brunt of the blame on Sunday.

However, on Monday, while not excusing the offensive line’s performance, Zimmer pointed out that his running backs were beaten twice in pass protection, too. In general, the issues were many.

“It’s a whole bunch of things offensively that we didn’t do good. Everybody is saying how I said it was offensive line. I said the offense in general was not very good,” Zimmer said. “Some of it was getting the protection turned the right way. Some of it was getting beat one on one. Sometimes it was not getting the ball out. It looked like he made a bad throw on the over route to (Stefon) Diggs. Well, Diggs was 10 yards short on the route. That’s what I’m saying – it was a combination of things offensively. It irritated me more so than just one particular thing or it’s just the offensive line. We have to get better in every area offensively.”

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The Vikings tried to rotate Jake Long in at left tackle, despite Zimmer saying he knew Long would be rusty since he hadn’t played in an NFL game since 2015 and actually played more snaps on Sunday than he did all of last year with the Atlanta Falcons.

Long was beaten twice for sacks, both of which resulted in fumbles the Vikings lost. On the right side, Jeremiah Sirles was beaten twice for sacks. Running back Matt Asiata was at least partially responsible for one sack and maybe two.

After signing Long two weeks ago as an injury replacement on the offensive line, Zimmer was asked if there could be more changes in personnel on the offensive line.

“We’re going to look at all options and go from there,” he said.

The reality is there aren’t many legitimate options not already employed and the NFL trade deadline is Nov. 1.

Despite the protection issues, the Vikings played blocking tight end Rhett Ellison only 13 snaps (17 percent) and fullback Zach Line for only 15 (20 percent).

“I’d wish we’d done some things differently,” Zimmer said when asked about using the tight ends more, adding later:

“There’s a lot of things we can do. But there were some other things that happened in pass protection, too. One back got run over by the safety and got beat, another back missed two pickups in the ballgame. We didn’t get the protection turned the right way a couple times. There were a lot of different things that happened throughout the course of the game. Those are the things that – as much as I’m upset about the performance, I’m upset about as well the things that we didn’t do well. I pride myself on knowing protections, so I’ve got a pretty good idea on protections and how to help it. We’re going to see what we can do.”

But when the protection problems were attributed to the offensive line, there was plenty of blame to go around there, too.

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“We got beat. Guys got beat one on one several times, I guess. Both sides. T.J. (Clemmings) actually played better on the left than he did on the right,” Zimmer said. “Jeremiah got beat a few times by 55 (Brandon Graham) and 51 (Steven Means). Long got beat when he was on the left twice, I believe. Inside we kind of protected pretty good. Mostly. There might’ve been one time because (Boone) tried to jump a guy. That was the other thing. We got a 15-yard penalty for saying something to the referee. Those are all dumb things. We did several dumb things in this football game. We pride ourselves on trying to be a smart football team and we did not do a lot of smart things in this game. So that’s why I was as upset as I am.”

Suffice to say it will be a busy week of correction for Zimmer, who said he will “change some things up this week” but didn’t want to reveal them because he hadn’t informed the players yet.

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