The Minnesota Vikings had their first preseason game of the year against the Denver Broncos on Saturday. Unfortunately, it went very poorly with the Vikings getting blown out at home by the score of 33-6. It’s only preseason. We try not to freak out about games that don’t count. Here are three way-too-early reactions to the outcome of the Vikings’ first preseason game.
No starters, mo problems for Minnesota Vikings
Just before the game kicked off, the Minnesota Vikings announced 31 players would be held out of the first exhibition contest. This meant all 22 starters, aside from the defensive end spot opposite of Danielle Hunter, sat out of the game. With so many inexperienced backups seeing their first playing time of their career, the Denver Broncos dominated big time.
For the most part, it was an all-out disaster on the Vikings’ end. Few players had a chance to shine in Minnesota. But on the bright side, they escaped without any injuries to their gameday contributors. Which, given how many players were sidelined, staying healthy was likely the biggest key going into the game.
Kellen Mond flashed athleticism, inconsistency
With Kirk Cousins sidelined for safety and despite Mike Zimmer saying he didn’t expect Kellen Mond to be ready, the third-round pick got on the field for his first taste of preseason football. How did the 22-year old quarterback do?
- Kellen Mond – Preseason Week 1
- 6-of-16 for 53 passing yards
- 5 carries for 25 yards
The stat sheet says it was an ugly performance. Any time you complete less than 50% of your passes, something isn’t right. For Mond, he was working with a ragtag group of receivers, headlined by players who have never caught an NFL pass. The offensive line wasn’t stout by any means, either.
However, Mond did show some urgency, scrambling when the pocket collapsed. Without being able to see the receivers downfield, it’s hard to know whether some of it was Mond panicking or whether he actually had open targets downfield. I’m not trying to suggest he got happy feet. The truth is the Vikings receivers struggled all day. Once Mond was on the run, he displayed some elusiveness not seen from Vikings starting quarterback Kirk Cousins.
When Mond did throw, he displayed an ability to get rid of the football in a hurry, sometimes not even having his feet set. Yet, he threw with accuracy. Between Jake Browning and Kellen Mond, it was clear the rookie was the better quarterback to take the field.
However, fans also likely realized it’s time to pump the brakes before calling for Mond to replace Cousins any time soon. Even with a solid running game going, the Vikings couldn’t even manage to score a touchdown on the day.
It’s only one preseason game. Mond hasn’t even practiced much with the team. Let’s give the kid some time before we try to evaluate a few snaps in his first preseason game.
5 Minnesota Vikings standouts, 5 disappointments
Disappointment #1 – Dakota Dozier
How Dakota Dozier still has a roster spot is confounding. Against the Broncos, Dozier graded at 20.9 according to Pro Football Focus. It may be odd to judge a player off 17 snaps from a preseason game, but this kind of shoddy play has become the standard for Dozier in his time with the Vikings. It’s time to cut bait.
Disappointment #2 – Jake Browning
After receiving several extra reps from when Vikings QBs were sitting out, Jake Browning should have been in a position to shine. Instead, the 2019 undrafted free agent went 5-of-10 with a whopping 31 passing yards while also taking a sack. In short, Browning didn’t show any reason why he should remain ahead of Mond as the backup to Cousins.
Disappointment #3 – Cameron Dantzler
Whether he should have had safety help over the top or not, Cameron Dantzler got burned by K.J. Hamler. We’ll cut Dantzler a bit of slack, as Hamler is a speedster. But it was not a good look for the second-year corner believed to be fighting for a starting spot opposite Patrick Peterson.
Disappointment #4 – Britton Colquitt
Britton Colquitt drew the ire of coach Zim after the game, calling the Vikings’ punting situation a “cause for concern”. Colquitt was perhaps the star of the show, in a bad way, as the Vikings’ inefficient offense led them to punt four times. Averaging 40.5 yards per punt as Colquitt did, would rank dead-last among NFL punters last season.
Disappointment #5 – Ihmir Smith-Marsette
Ihmir Smith-Marsette, the Vikings’ 2021 fifth-round pick saw six targets, but only hauled in two catches for 12 yards. Smith-Marsette’s best moment came on special teams, which is where the Iowa rookie will likely see the most playing time in his first season. ISM returned two kickoffs totaling 42 yards, with his longest return going for 30. On the kickoff, Smith-Marsette got a chance to show off some of his speed and lateral agility that should play well on special teams.
SKOL Standout #1 – A.J. Rose
Undrafted rookie A.J. Rose Jr. stole the show, rushing 25 times for 100 yards and even finishing as the team’s leading receiver with an 18-yard catch. Rose has three Vikings who were drafted ahead of him on the depth chart and a versatile veteran in Ameer Abdullah. With a tough depth chart to climb, Rose may find himself on the practice squad or scooped up by another team closer to cutdown day.
SKOL Standout #2 – Ryan Connelly
Eden Prairie’s own Ryan Connelly showed why he may deserve a roster spot in a linebacker room full of competition. On a few different occasions, Connelly made his presence felt, getting into the Denver backfield, blowing up blocks. With the Vikings still sorting out their linebacker depth, Connelly may be able to snag a spot.
SKOL Standout #3 – Wyatt Davis
Wyatt Davis had some early rookie mistakes, most notable letting up the only sack of the game. Aside from some quick mistakes, Davis settled in to finish with a 78.9 PFF grade. Like many of the other Vikings linemen, Davis was better when run-blocking as opposed to pass protection.
SKOL Standout #4 – Greg Joseph
Finally, a Vikings kicker who makes their kicks! Greg Joseph didn’t have to do much to earn some praise in Minnesota. Going 2-for-2, Joseph nailed a 25-yarder and a 34-yard kick. That’s all it takes.
SKOL Standout #5 – Kris Boyd
Kris Boyd suddenly finds himself in an uber-competitive defensive back rotation, with as many as four cornerbacks ahead of him. Playing with a chip on his shoulder, Boyd held up against the likes of Jerry Jeudy, even denying him of a touchdown catch. Aside from his solid work in coverage, Boyd also had five tackles.