Vikings’ unique teams breaking down in a number of locations
Vikings unique groups organizer Marwan Maalouf had a long to-do list today as continuous mistakes by his system are threatening to undo the team’s three-game winning streak.
A week after having two punts blocked against the Lions, the Vikings’ unique groups withstood a terrible second half versus the Bears that started with Cordarrelle Patterson breezing past the kickoff coverage for a 104-yard goal. A botched snap on an extra point effort and a 32-yard Bears punt return followed.
On top of that order of business? “I ‘d probably start with the kick,” Maalouf said Thursday.
Kicker Dan Bailey, an otherwise stable veteran for a young unique teams group, watched his kickoff sail straight to Patterson, one of the very best kick returners in league history.
” It wasn’t an ideal kick for us,” said Maalouf, who got an earful from head coach Mike Zimmer on the sideline after Patterson’s touchdown. “We wish to get that thing method more out to the left. And I think there’s a great deal of hesitation from some of the young guys that we’re playing.
” Most likely one of the very best kickoff returners in the history of the league right there. Special groups is a phase where you actually simply need to let loose and go, you know? That’s probably the greatest emphasis that we have actually been making this week.”
Maalouf keeps confidence in Bailey and punter Britton Colquitt, who had those 2 punts obstructed against the Lions 2 weeks ago. But he stopped short of an endorsement for long snapper Austin Cutting, whose recent struggles included avoiding a snap to Colquitt on an additional point effort against Chicago.
After the game, Zimmer stated: “We’ve had some bad snaps, yes. Sometimes [Cutting] is respectable and often he hasn’t been great lately, so we’ll keep operating at it.”
Maalouf called Cutting a “operate in development” while the Vikings workers evaluators have hosted complimentary representative long snappers, including Kyle Nelson (New Mexico St.) and John Wirtel (Kansas), for tryouts within the previous two weeks. Cutting was required to miss out on practices last week since of a necessary quarantine as a close contact to an individual with COVID-19. Will the Vikings make a change?
” I’m unsure,” Maalouf said. “That’s something most likely more so for the personnel people. We constantly examine guys, a minimum of they do. And sometimes they’ll ask my viewpoint of certain men. Or, ‘Hey, see this person, what do you think?’ But right now, my job is to get Austin prepared for Dallas.”
Beyond specialists, the Vikings’ currently young roster has actually been removed of beginners because of injuries, elevating role gamers and special teams leaders, like linebacker Eric Wilson, into full-time roles in other units. Other injuries resulted in more unproven skill on special groups. Even the appealing novice gunner Dan Chisena mistakenly stepped on the goal line for a touchback while downing a punt in Chicago.
Chisena, a former track recruit who played 14 football games for Penn St., leads the Vikings with 157 special teams snaps despite missing a game with a hip injury.
” He does the hard part extremely, effectively,” Maalouf stated. “Fantastic starts and after that stacking the defender, and after that getting in position to make the surface– that’s where we have actually truly got to simply deal with his individual stuff.
” We’re still taking his niche and still trying to improve his play as much as we can.”
The problems are widespread. The Vikings average a league-worst 1.67 yards per punt return. Averages on kickoff returns (20.9 backyards), and coverage on kickoffs (24.6 yards) and punts (10.3 yards) all rank in the bottom half of the league.
Winning hasn’t quite set everything. Maalouf stated he’s taking Zimmer’s on-field criticism in stride.
” Having many young people on the field at the same time, sometimes that ends up being something where it’s not perfect in coverage,” Maalouf stated, “as far as guys leaving their lanes or anything like that. Or if we miss out on a take on as a gunner and then we need to backtrack. So, I think we have actually altered a couple things on our teams today and ideally that’ll help.”