Sunday’s game didn’t go the way the Vipers wanted. Offensively, the Vipers moved the ball almost at will, running almost twice as many plays as the Guardians, but being unable to get the ball into the endzone was crushing. Here are a few things we learned from Week One!
Sloppy Execution Proved Costly
Breaking down the numbers of this game, you would have expected the Vipers to dominate this game. They outgained the Guardians 394-226 and outrushed the guardians 150-44 while running twice as many offensive plays. What turned the tide of this game was the Vipers’ lack of red-zone execution. In four red-zone opportunities, The Vipers were able to manage a whopping zero points. One drive ended in the first quarter on a very poorly thrown ball from Aaron Murray, and another saw a touchdown run by Quentin Flowers negated on a holding penalty. Turnovers proved critical in this game as well. Aaron Murray had two interceptions, one on a ball he threw up for grabs in the end zone, and another on an overthrow that killed a very promising drive. In the 4th quarter, a fumble by tight end Nick Truesdell resulted in a defensive touchdown, putting the game well out of reach.
Quentin Flowers Should Have an Increased Role in the Offense
Aaron Murray never looked comfortable during this game. He missed several easy throws throughout this game, resulting in a sub 50 percent completion rates. His two interceptions were the result of bad decision making, one a 50/50 ball, and the other an overthrow into tight coverage. Part of these issues can be attributed to New York’s dominant pass rush, accounting for five sacks and eight hurries. Throughout the game, the Vipers rotated Murray and Flowers, mostly to let Flowers run some variation of the option. Flowers was used much like the Saints use Taysom Hill, and it seemed to create some discomfort within the New York Defense. Late in the game, Flowers was substituted for Murray, leading a drive that very nearly saw the Vipers first-ever Touchdown before it was called back due to a holding penalty. Part of the reason he saw only limited time in this game is that he started the season as the number 3 quarterback, but from what I saw in week one, it would be shocking if he does not see more playing time in week 2.
Tampa Bay’s Pass Blocking Was Horrific.
As hard as I have been on Aaron Murray throughout the course of this article, I must also give some credit to his pass protection. Whether it was Murray or Flowers, they were running for their lives on almost every drop back. Between the two, they were sacked five times, with another eight hurries. Only one week into the regular season, it is not apparent yet if the Guardians’ pass rush is that good, or if the Vipers pass blocking is that bad. However, if this an omen for things to come, this will wind up being a serious problem for whoever winds up under center.
The Vipers take on the 0-1 Seattle Dragons in next week’s matchup!