News & Analysis

MIN-TEN grades: Diggs, defense fuel Vikings' win

:NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 03: Wide receiver Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball during a NFL pre-season game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

Minnesota Vikings 25 , Tennessee Titans 16

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Vikings' 25-16 victory over the Titans.

Minnesota Vikings

Quarterback grade: Shaun Hill, 53.5

The Vikings' temporary starting quarterback Shaun Hill didn't do much to suggest that he should own the starting role once Sam Bradford has the offense down. Hill’s strength in Week 1 was the middle of the field, going 8 of 10 for 126 yards when throwing between 10-19 yards. Over the course of the game Hill was pressured on 38.2 percent of his drop backs completing only 50 percent of his passes.

Top offensive grades:

WR Stefon Diggs, 84.8
TE Kyle Rudolph, 75.2
C Joe Berger, 73.2
WR Adam Thielen, 69.5
TE David Morgan II, 66.3

One of the big questions marks coming into the season was the offensive line and if there was going to be a marked improvement over last season. The first game should give Viking fans something to be worried about, but the good news is they did not give up a sack. The offensive line did gave up 11 total pressures on 34 dropbacks, however, ranking the Vikings offensive line as the fifth-worst pass blocking efficiency at 75.7.

Top defensive grades:

S Harrison Smtih, 84,3
DI Linval Joseph, 79.8
S Andrew Sendejo, 78
ED Brian Robison, 74
ED Danielle Hunter, 73.1

The Vikings won this game on good fortune from their defense, which recorded two defensive touchdowns on Sunday. One was a failed handoff on a read option by Marcus Mariota and DeMarco Murray, and the other was a poor decision to try and throw a pass when under pressure, which was floated and behind his tight end and allowed Eric Kendericks to score. The defense did their part in only 10 points when the game was close (allowed a second touchdown with 30 seconds left, when the game was over). If the defense can keep the games close they might be able to buy enough time for Sam Bradford to do enough on offense to make the Vikings a playoff team once again.

Tennessee Titans

Quarterback grade: Marcus Mariota, 34.6

After last season, in which Mariota finished with a 72.1 overall grade, Week 1 was a big step back. When Mariota released the ball in under 2.5 seconds he completed 69 percent of his passes and had a QB rating of 111.9. However those numbers dropped drastically when he held the ball over 2.5 seconds — Mariota was only able to complete 41.7 percent of his passes with a QB rating of only 25.3.

Top offensive grades:

T Taylor Lewan, 76.7
WR Tajae Sharpe, 76.1
T Jack Conklin, 75.5
G Quinton Spain, 73.4
TE Delanie Walker 71.7

The talk out of Titans training camp had been the performance of rookie wide receiver Tajae Sharpe. In his first regular season game he did not disappoint, catching seven out of his eleven targets for 76 yards. Most of his work came against second year corner Trae Waynes, where he caught six of 64 yards. 

Top defensive grades:

DI Jurrell Casey, 85.7
ED Derrick Morgan, 84.3
LB Avery Williamson, 84.3
LB Sean Spence, 76.5
S Rashad Johnson 75.9

The top performer for the Titans defense is their best player on the team. Jurrell Casey was too strong and quick for Alex Boone to handle as he recorded three run stops to go with his five total pressures. When Casey had a chance to rush the passer against Matt Kalil, the strength of Casey was too much to handle. The defensive front seven as a whole kept the Vikings rushing attack a non-threat. On 28 carries the Vikings only averaged 2.3 yards per carry and only forced two missed tackles. The Titans are going to need to rely on the defense to keep games close so that the offense can stay with their smash-mouth football.

PFF Game Ball Winner: Titans DE Jurrell Casey

Get access to grades for every player, complete with positional rankings, in our Player Grades tool.

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