Buccaneers on Tape: What the Vikings showed in Week 2

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Head coach Dirk Koetter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on from the sidelines during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears on September 17, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Head coach Dirk Koetter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on from the sidelines during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears on September 17, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /
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When I look at the Vikings offense and how the Buccaneers might stack up against them, I see two things the most.

The first, is that Mike Remmers, is still the same right tackle who may have single-handedly cost the Carolina Panthers a real shot at beating the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.

Remmers is ok, if the defender he’s facing rushes to his inside shoulder. This is for two reasons really. One is, he leans that way anyway, and doesn’t have to move his body across his stance to get into position.

The second is he has a buffer. The right guard provides him a wall of sorts which he can push his opponent into, while outside rushers have the benefit of space. Remmers doesn’t like space.

This was evident on multiple occasions in the match-up against the Steelers, with the first two coming on the first Vikings possession of the game.

Here, the Vikings are in a shotgun formation with one tight end and one running back. Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree is lined up on Remmers outside shoulder as the ball is ready to be snapped.

Once the play begins, Dupree speed rushes on the outside of Remmers and gets into the throwing

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lane as Keenum looks for his outlet, Dalvin Cook.

Dupree is in the backfield and into the quarterback’s face so quickly, you can see his feet aren’t set, and his frame is leaning backwards as he makes the throw. This leads to a soft throw with minimal velocity on it, and Cook is stopped after a one-yard gain, which he earned by using his own athleticism to make some space for himself.

If Keenum were able to step into the throw and lead Cook downfield on the throw, his running back would have gained at least another 3-5 yards on the play. This would have set Minnesota up for a 2nd-and-5 or so, instead of the 2nd-and-9 they actually faced.

The next play on this drive which demonstrates Remmers struggles on the outside came on a 1st-and-20 screen pass attempt.

In pre-snap, you Minnesota is lined up in the shotgun again, with no tight end and running back Jerick McKinnon in the backfield.

This time though, it’s T.J. Watt lined up on Remmers’ outside shoulder.

What you see in the next photo is that Watt gets on top of Remmers so quickly, the right tackle gets turned completely perpendicular to the sideline while the rookie linebacker is already pushing up field past him.

The tackle’s arms are extended as he tries to stave off the rusher without holding, and his legs are under him while his stance is upright. This is a last ditch effort by Remmers to try and provide a wall between he and his quarterback as Watt has all the leverage and drive with his own body nearly at a 45 degree angle as he drives the tackle into his quarterback.

Finally, as Keenum tries to throw the screen, he’s got a face full of J.J. Watt’s little brother, and the pass gets swatted away before it even had a chance to be successful.

These two plays are demonstrations of Remmers’ weakness blocking outside rushers on passing plays. For evidence of his deficiencies in the running game, look no further than the fact Minnesota ran on the right side of their formation just twice in the entire game.

The first time, was on the 26-yard run by Cook which set up the team’s only touchdown of the game.

So, maybe I’m wrong about Remmers then? Nope.

What you see here is the right tackle with a tight end and wide receiver on his outside shoulder to provide the lane for Cook to run through.

That’s wide receiver Adam Thielen and tight end Kyle Rudolph providing the edge blocking for the Vikings here. Minnesota literally trusts a wide receiver who operates best in the slot – aka, he’s a small guy – with their edge blocking than their right tackle, who is seen here pushing his defender to the inside. This creates the gap Cook is supposed to run through, but doesn’t.

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Instead, he makes a cut outside and punishes the safety and corner for overcommitting to the hole. Ideally, the corner maintains his edge protection until the running back commits to the gap, and then comes in from the side to take down his legs. Meanwhile, the safety comes downhill and finishes the back off with a high tackle, or strips the ball. Whichever. In this case, the corner lost contain, because he’s better at pass coverage than run support – shocking – and Cook almost scores a touchdown.

That last example of Remmers’ edge ineptitude, is the first example of Cook’s elite athleticism and field vision.

Here’s another:

You see how Cook is lined up behind the quarterback and there’s a receiver in motion? You see how there are no defenders following him? This is bad. Especially when you’re running to that side and your offensive line now only has two inline tight ends to help them on an outside run.

Just for fun, here’s what I think Keenum should have done upon seeing this.

This is all just for my own fun of course, this play may not even exist in the Vikings playbook, making it literally impossible for Keenum to check into. Still, running the play as is, was a bad choice.

However, Cook used his field vision and athleticism to turn a bad quarterback decision into a good play.

Upon getting the ball, Cook runs to the spot there’s supposed to be a gap, just to find there is no gap, and no good cutback lane.

So, he does what any good running back does, and he runs around the formation. Ok, this isn’t actually usually a good idea. But for the uber-athletic, it’s an option.

As you can see, despite the fact he’s a solid three yards to the inside of the edge here, he makes it out there before the defenders and turns this busted run into an eight-yard gain.

At least, until a holding penalty calls it all back. Still though, it’s good example of how Cook can see the field and use his athletic ability to burn a defense if it doesn’t account for his abilities.

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The Buccaneers will need to maintain contain until he commits to a lane, or they’ll get burned on the outside too. This will mostly fall on guys like Brent Grimes, Vernon Hargreaves, and those safeties.