Chargers QB Philip Rivers’ box score from Sunday’s game against the Vikings looks pretty good at surface level: 33 of 48 for 335 yards, with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. As a result, it’s easy to scoff at the title of this blog entry and write off the secondary for a poor performance.
If you go deeper than surface level, though, you’ll discover that the Vikings secondary actually played well. Rivers is an elite NFL passer and he dropped back to pass a whopping 48 times on Sunday. While 335 yards is a lot, when you break it down to average yards per attempt, it’s 6.9 yards per attempt, which is a full yard below Rivers’ career average. Also, Rivers registered an 85.0 passer rating on Sunday, which is a 14+ points behind his career passer rating.
Furthermore, San Diego’s top WR is Vincent Jackson and the Vikings held him in check. Jackson had just 2 catches for 31 yards on the day and was a complete non-factor. Perhaps the best pass-catching option for the Chargers is TE Antonio Gates, and while he tallied 74 receiving yards, it came on 8 receptions, which is just 9.3 yards per catch (Gates’ career yards per catch is 13.2).
What didn’t help the secondary was the Vikings inability to pressure Rivers. Yes, the Vikings registered a pair of sacks, but two sacks in 48 dropbacks is not enough. DEs Jared Allen and Brian Robison were factors, so give them some credit for hanging in there. Where I thought the Vikings struggled a touch was in the middle, and that’s largely because Kevin Williams was not playing. The Vikings missed him. He’s a perennial Pro Bowler who is double-teamed nearly every snap. DTs Remi Ayodele, Fred Evans, Letroy Guion and Christian Ballard are solid contributors, but they’re success in this defense is predicated on Williams being in the game and taking up two blockers. That wasn’t the case on Sunday and the Chargers were able to take advantage.
All told, give the Vikings secondary credit. They held Rivers in check even though he dropped back to pass nearly 50 times. I’m willing to say that if Rivers drops back 50 times against every team in the NFL, most defenses allow more than the 335 yards the Vikings allowed.
Tags: Brian Robison, Jared Allen
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 74 Comments »