Like Cardinals, Vikings CB room has yet to answer questions in Week 2
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim feel like they know what the Arizona Cardinals have in their cornerback room. They’ve gotten all camp, preseason and practice through Week 2 to have a grasp of such things.
Those not employed by the Cardinals could still wonder if finding out just how good those corners are was pushed back a week.
Arizona’s defensive backs didn’t have to hold up long in a Sunday win over the Tennessee Titans, as NextGenStats tallied the Cardinals’ front getting pressure on 17 of Ryan Tannehill’s 41 dropbacks. That made life easy on the Cardinals defensive backs.
Arizona’s Week 2 opponents, the Minnesota Vikings, similarly face questions this young season with new faces in the defensive backfield.
It’s just that their refurbished cornerback room got more than tested in Week 1.
They were attacked early and often in a 27-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Second-year Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow completed 20-of-27 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.
It was efficient and potentially concerning on Minnesota’s end, though Vikings No. 1 corner and former Arizona star Patrick Peterson was widely avoided by the Bengals. Pro Football Focus tagged him with three targets and two receptions given up.
With Peterson sitting on the left side of the field, Burrow and the Bengals attacked veteran Bashaud Breeland, who joined the Vikings after playing for the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs last year.
PFF said Cincinnati targeted Breeland eight times. He gave up five receptions for two touchdowns and 107 yards, including 41 after the catch. Most notably, he got burned by rookie Ja’Marr Chase for a 50-yard touchdown and also picked up a defensive pass interference penalty.
“Wasn’t my best,” Breeland told Minnesota reporters Wednesday. “Those two mistakes I made really cost us.”
Vikings assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson said the errors were technical. Breeland turned the wrong way but was in good coverage on the flagged play, while he should have lined up deeper on the deep ball.
Breeland admitted to keeping his eyes on the quarterback too long, he said of the latter.
Here’s the TD Bashaud Breeland gave up with 35 seconds left in the first half.
— Ali Siddiqui (@asiddiqui15) September 16, 2021
Just a really rough Vikings debut for Bashaud Breeland so far pic.twitter.com/ulyZJecajB
— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) September 12, 2021
Breeland lined up on the right outside spot, while veteran Mackensie Alexander played 50 snaps in the slot and was targeted four times, giving up three catches for 32 yards.
Against Arizona, those trends match up Peterson as the primary defender against Arizona’s top receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, who rarely leaves his left outside spot in the offense. Hopkins caught six balls for 83 yards and two touchdowns last Sunday against Tennessee.
“I do prepare myself getting a lot more action this week,” Peterson told reporters Thursday.
Meanwhile, Breeland will likely see time on A.J. Green in the three-wide personnel sets for the Cardinals, while Alexander will be tasked with dealing with slot receivers Christian Kirk and rookie Rondale Moore.
While Peterson might see more action relative to Week 1, Breeland and Alexander can expect to be busy once again.
“Man, I just realized I ain’t never played with nobody like Patrick — a corner on that side, where they don’t even look his way,” Breeland said. “It really showed me, we got to buckle my cleats up, buckle my chin strap, week in and week out.”
The Vikings must hope they not only manage better in coverage but hold up in run support, as the No. 2 and No. 3 corners combined for seven missed tackles last week, according to PFF.