No improvement from Vikings' first-team offense

Chris Tomasson

St. Paul Pioneer Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had hoped to “feel better” about his offense after their third preseason game Sunday, Aug. 27. Instead, he might have felt worse.

Minnesota’s first-team offense was ragged, again, in a 32-31 win over San Francisco at U.S. Bank Stadium, failing to score a point in six first-half possessions. If starters don’t play in Thursday’s exhibition finale against Miami, as is usually the case, the Vikings’ starters will have scored only three points in 12 preseason possessions.

“We started out the game with two negative plays and it kind of kept going from there,” Zimmer said.

The Vikings began with a Sam Bradford pass to rookie Dalvin Cook that lost five yards. On the next play, Bradford had the ball knocked out of his hands when he bumped into Cook and had to pounce on it for a seven-yard loss — one of three times he was sacked Sunday.

That’s five times Bradford has been sacked in the preseason, something the Vikings aimed to fix after he was dropped 37 in 15 games last season.

In the opener at Buffalo, the first-team offense didn’t score any points in three possessions. In the second game at Seattle, they got a field goal in three possessions.

“Obviously, I think we’d like to be sharper,” Bradford said. “There’s a lot of things that we have to get corrected. There’s a lot of things that we need to be better at if we’re going to be a good offense. … So, these next two weeks there is a lot of things that we need to get right.”

The Vikings open the regular season Monday, Sept. 11, against New Orleans at U.S. Bank Stadium. Running back Latavius Murray said the Vikings “don’t have much time'” to get matters in order. He made his debut Sunday after missing the first two exhibition games while recovering from March ankle surgery, running twice for six yards and catching two passes for 10 yards.

Cook, who carried five times for 17 yards against the 49ers, is expected to start when the regular season begins. Murray, though, will have a role in the offense.

“That’s our job, is to go out there and put points on the board, and so it’s frustrating that the first team hadn’t been able to do that,” Murray said. “We’ve got to light up the scoreboard; that’s what we want to do. I think we’ve got the talent in the room to do that, so we’ve just got to continue to improve and find ways to put the ball in the end zone.”

The first-team offense managed 123 net yards on six possessions Sunday a week after gaining 133 at Seattle. The Vikings got past midfield just once in the first half. With 16 seconds left on San Francisco’s 34-yard line, Bradford scrambled and found Adam Thielen over the middle for 28 yards to the 6, but the clock ran out before the Vikings could spike the ball.

In halftime comments to NBC, which broadcast the game, Zimmer said the Vikings made “so many mistakes.” Wide receiver Stefon Diggs dropped two passes, and the offensive line had problems picking up blitzes, which resulted in two sacks.

“I just know I personally didn’t play as well as I need to play,” tackle Mike Remmers said. “They brought some unique looks that we just need to be able to pick up.”

Zimmer called the play of the offensive line “sporadic.”

“What we need to do is go back and figure out exactly what we need to be working on and put our concentration on that,” Zimmer said of the overall breakdowns on offense.