Scouting report, week 8 when the bucs play the vikings, things could get messy 4 gases in the atmosphere besides oxygen and nitrogen


The Vikings offense, in particular, has struggled mightily. It ranks among the worst in the league by almost any measure, including yards per game (29th), points per game (30th) and Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average metric, or DVOA (last).

What’s wrong? A little bit of everything. Superstar running back Adrian Peterson is awaiting trial in a child-abuse case, rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been hesitant and inaccurate at times, and the offensive line has been more vulnerable than Prince’s credit card at a Target in Minneapolis.

For this week’s scouting report, we called on former Buccaneer and Super Bowl champion Todd Yoder to walk us through the Vikings’ issues. Yoder, who is in his second year as head coach at Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater, toiled in the NFL trenches as a tight end for nine seasons.

Minnesota’s offensive line has been much-maligned this season, and left tackle Matt Kalil (drafted fourth overall in 2012) has taken the brunt of the criticism. The line has allowed an average of 12.3 total pressures (quarterback sacks, hit and hurries combined) per week, the sixth-most in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. As for Kalil, the analytics site assigns responsibility to him on eight sacks this season, tied with Washington’s Tyler Polumbus for most in the league.

On this 3rd-and-8 play early in the second quarter, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who was known for his exceptional speed when he was drafted fifth overall in 2013, lines up well outside Kalil’s left shoulder. Not only does he make quick work of Kalil en route to Bridgewater but he also knocks the ball out of his hand (the Vikings recovered and then punted). If Ansah’s explosive first step wasn’t enough for Kalil to handle, Ansah gains an additional edge with a simple move.

Coach Yoder explains: "Really what gets (Kalil) here is the hand slap. If you get both hands in a guy and punch him, in the NFL, the guys are so strong, you’re good. You’re going to get locked up. But as you reach for a guy and he chops your hands down and goes right around you, you don’t get any hand punch."

It’s early in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings, up 13-10, are driving to put the game out of reach. Bridgewater’s 14-yard pass to Jarius Wright converts a 3rd-and-10 and gets the Vikings to Buffalo’s 7-yard line. When Bridgewater comes to the line on 1st-and-goal, the Bills show him a "Cover 0" look, which means the cornerbacks are playing man-to-man against the receivers and there is no safety deep to help in coverage. It looks as though a blitz is coming, so Bridgewater checks out of the run call into a pass call.

"If the tackle wouldn’t have set as deep, there’s not a gap in there because (Kalil and left guard Charlie Johnson) would be standing more shoulder-to-shoulder," Yoder explains. "A guy’s not going to be able to run through two guys that big. They’re playing on separate levels because the tackle sets so deep. He gives up that inside lane, and that’s all it takes for the guy to squeeze through."

"(Wright) is trying to run a fade route, and the corner just jams the snot out of him, and he falls down," Yoder says. "Right at that instant where the quarterback was going to let it go, he saw the receiver getting tripped up a little bit and just didn’t throw the ball."

The Bills sacked Bridgewater again on the next play, and the Vikings settled for a field goal and a 16-10 lead. That left the door open for Kyle Orton to engineer a 15-play, 80-yard game-winning drive, capped by a touchdown pass to rookie Sammy Watkins as time expired.

On 1st-and-10, the Vikings line up in 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) and sell the appearance of a run to the right by putting tight end Rhett Ellison in motion and positioning him behind the right guard. The play design makes sense because the Vikings tend to run outside the right tackle often, averaging 5.9 yards in that direction on 38 attempts, 13 more than any other direction.

Something to watch Sunday: While the Bills successfully defended this play-action pass, quarterbacks have executed such passes at will against the Buccaneers this season, completing 78 percent (46/59) of their throws for 559 yards and four touchdowns.

Buccaneers defensive end Michael Johnson will be lined up across from Kalil on Sunday, but a persistent high left ankle sprain has hindered his pass rush and significantly limited his impact in run defense all season. The Bucs’ hope is that the bye week gave Johnson and several other defensive starters — including defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (broken left hand), cornerback Johnthan Banks (neck) and safety Dashon Goldson (ankle) — time to heal.

After the Falcons embarrassed the Buccaneers in Week 3, we showed that just because a team is blown out one week, a blowout isn’t any more likely to occur the following week. Sure enough, the Bucs bounced back in Week 4 to upset the Steelers in Pittsburgh. As for this week, I expect the Buccaneers will put the 48-17 Week 6 loss to the Ravens behind them and put together an effort worth watching for at least more than a quarter. The pick: The Buccaneers give their fans what they want — what they really, really want — and eke out their first home win since December.