Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Another look at Josh Robinson's struggles
By Ben Goessling
MINNEAPOLIS -- The latest numbers on Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson are in from Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers. And they're not good.
Pro Football Focus held Robinson responsible for four catches on four targets in the Vikings' 35-10 loss to the Panthers, including two touchdowns -- Steve Smith's fourth-and-goal catch in the first quarter, and Brandon LaFell's 79-yard score just after halftime. In total, PFF had Robinson allowing 91 yards on the four catches.
Coach Leslie Frazier would probably take some issues with the numbers, or at least would argue LaFell's touchdown shouldn't be hung solely on the slot cornerback. After watching the coaches' film of the play, it's easier for me to buy Frazier's argument. Chris Cook also appears to drop into zone coverage as Harrison Smith cheats up toward the line of scrimmage before the snap, which makes me think Cook, Jamarca Sanford and Xavier Rhodes were supposed to have deep thirds of the field while Robinson, Smith, Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson took underneath zones and had responsibilities against the run. Rhodes played man coverage, following Ted Ginn to Sanford, and there was no one on LaFell. Rhodes called the play a communication error, and while Robinson probably needed to drop deeper on the play, a closer look at the coverage suggests he wasn't the only one at fault. That was certainly what led Frazier to say Robinson didn't give up any big plays on Sunday.
But even if you take that play out, Robinson still gave up a completion on every pass thrown his way, including the Panthers' first touchdown. Quarterbacks have missed on just three passes targeted at Robinson all season, according to Pro Football Focus, and he has yet to break up a pass. If it's that easy for opposing quarterbacks to move the ball when they throw at Robinson, he shouldn't expect it to stop anytime soon. It certainly won't in the next two games, when Robinson faces two quarterbacks (Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers) with three Super Bowl rings, three Super Bowl MVPs and a league MVP between them.
As several of you have pointed out on Twitter today, the Vikings' communication breakdowns go far beyond just Robinson, and represent a serious issue with the defense. The New York Giants, though, have the league's fifth-most passing yards, and can stack the field with multiple-receiver sets to test the Vikings' secondary. Based on how this season has played out so far, Robinson should probably expect plenty of action headed his way on Monday night.