Vikings stock report: Week Four

Posted Oct. 03, 2011 @ 2:25 p.m.
Posted By Christian West

Here's the Vikings stock report — three areas of the team heading in the right direction and three going in the wrong direction — following the Vikings' loss to the Chiefs.

Rising

TEs Visanthe Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolph — The TE position continues to be the most reliable for Donovan McNabb. Shiancoe worked the middle of the field well, with six catches for 58 yards. Rudolph created the biggest play of the day, a 41-yard catch and run in the second quarter and finished with 44 yards on three catches. McNabb is comfortable with these tight ends and they should continue to see more targets throughout the season.

Early-down play-action passing — In the first half especially, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was calling a great game, mixing in run and play-action on first and second downs. It helped to create a 34-yard touchdown pass to Devin Aromashodu in the first quarter and the long Rudolph catch. They got away from play-action as the game wore on, but with the way that the Chiefs were aggressively playing the run against Adrian Peterson, they should have continued to use play-action to keep McNabb's rhythm in the passing game.

Red-zone defense — The Chiefs managed to get into the red zone three times, and each time the Vikings' defense held strong and prevented a touchdown, allowing three field goals. The Chiefs tried a variety of things in close and the Vikings had an answer for all of it. It was a strong effort with their backs against the wall.

Falling

Pass protection — McNabb had to deal with pressure throughout the game, as his pass protection continues to be suspect. The Vikings tried, unsuccessfully, to use Jim Kleinsasser to block the Chiefs' best pass rusher, OLB Tamba Hali, who had two sacks. The Vikes' O-line continuously allowed pressure to get in McNabb's face. The line needs to play better if the Vikes hope to turn things around.

Punt coverage — P Chris Kluwe and the punt team did not have their best game against the Chiefs, as they allowed Javier Arenas a big punt return in the first quarter to set up the opening field goal and were unable to pin the Chiefs deep in their own territory once in the game.

Pass defense — Matt Cassel and the Chiefs' passing game had struggled through three games. But they were finally able to find a rhythm against the Vikings, hitting two plays of 40-plus yards, including 52-yard touchdown to Dwayne Bowe on a pump and go. For a Vikings team that plays a lot of cover-2, which is designed to prevent the big play, Sunday's effort was disappointing.