Vikings film review: Offense, Peterson

MINNEAPOLIS -- We're rolling out a new feature on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings this season, where we take a closer look back at the Minnesota Vikings' previous game through film reviews of the offense and defense. The intent here isn't to issue grades on how players or units performed -- we don't have enough detail about the game plan and specific assignments to do that, and we heard something about Vikings coach Mike Zimmer not being a big fan of such work -- but through a review of the game film, we can talk in more detail about trends emerging on the field and how the Vikings are using certain players.

We'll get started with a review of the Vikings' offense from Sunday's 34-6 win against St. Louis, and a few observations that jumped out from the film:

  • It was clear there's going to be a significant role for Rhett Ellison (31 snaps) as a tight end/H-back in Norv Turner's offense; the coordinator has typically used plenty of two-tight end sets, and on Sunday, Ellison functioned like Turner's utility knife, teaming with Kyle Rudolph to create an alley on Cordarrelle Patterson's first jet sweep, motioning in from a wide split to block at the point of attack on an Adrian Peterson run two plays later, and serving as Peterson's lead blocker from a fullback spot two plays after that. Turner also had a clever play design on Ellison's 22-yard catch-and-run, when the tight end lined up to the inside of Rudolph on an unbalanced line, released from his blocker in time to catch a screen from Cassel and broke three tackles on his way to the Rams' 8.

  • The Vikings gave Brandon Fusco a new five-year deal on Saturday, and he might be an even better fit in Turner's offense than he was in the Vikings' old scheme; Turner had Fusco pulling on numerous plays, leading Peterson on sweeps and teaming with John Sullivan on several such plays. The best one came with 6:56 left in the third quarter, when Peterson followed blocks from Fusco and Sullivan for a 17-yard gain on a power sweep. The Vikings used a similar design in the third quarter, with Jerome Felton replacing Sullivan as the other lead blocker on a 16-yard gain for Peterson.

  • Apart from those runs, I thought Peterson looked a little uncomfortable with the Vikings' new running scheme at times, and he got a couple more opportunities in the second half to find cutback lanes off inside runs. Those are the plays Peterson has lived on in the past, and he mentioned on Sunday that this coaching staff will listen to players' preferences about what they'd like to run, so the Vikings might have given him a few more of those runs in the second half. Once he gets more comfortable with the system, though, he'll be fine on the Vikings' power plays; he showed hints of success on his two biggest runs. The Rams' defense, which is one of the fastest and most aggressive against the run the Vikings will see this season, also deserves some credit for holding Peterson in check.

  • The Vikings also got Peterson involved on a few screens, running double screens with Felton on the first-quarter play where Robert Quinn hit Matt Cassel for a 15-yard penalty.