Vikings Bringing No Noise, But Bringing Plenty Of Funk

The genesis of this is something I saw from the folks at Vikings Now on Twitter this afternoon that I felt I needed to investigate for myself, because I couldn't believe it when I saw the numbers.

If it seems as though the Vikings have been playing from behind a lot this season. . .well, it's because they have been. A lot of that has to do with how atrocious they've been on the first two drives of each game this season. By and large, such things have led to the Vikings getting down early, which minimizes the pass rush on the defensive side and necessitates many more throws than necessary on the offensive side.

To wit, thanks to the Game Books provided by the folks at NFL.com, this is how the Vikings have fared on the first two drives of each of their six games this season. I'm putting this stuff after the jump  to give you an opportunity to hold your nose before you dive in, should you so desire.

Here we go.

 

 

 

 

Opponent

Plays

Yards Gained

Penalty Yards

Net Yards

First Downs

T.O.P.

Drive End

New Orleans

3

7

0

7

0

2:03

Punt

New Orleans

6

38

-20

18

1

3:49

Punt

Miami

10

50

-5

45

2

5:33

Downs

Miami

4

9

0

9

1

2:41

Punt

Detroit

4

17

0

17

1

1:50

Punt

Detroit

6

23

-12

11

1

4:37

Punt

New York

3

20

-15

5

0

3:11

Punt

New York

3

-1

0

-1

0

1:48

Punt

Dallas

7

19

0

19

2

3:21

Fumble

Dallas

3

-4

0

-4

0

2:10

Punt

Green Bay

3

4

0

4

0

2:04

Punt

Green Bay

3

5

0

5

0

0:59

Punt

Totals

55

187

-52

135

8

34:06

 

Averages

4.6 plays/drive

 

 

11.3 yards/drive

 

2:50/drive

 


Conversely, here's how Minnesota's opponents have fared on their first two drives of each of the first six games. 

Opponent

Plays

Yards Gained

Penalty Yards

Net Yards

First Downs

T.O.P.

Drive End

New Orleans

5

77

0

77

3

2:04

Touchdown

New Orleans

3

0

0

0

0

1:37

Punt

Miami

9

73

0

73

4

4:47

Touchdown

Miami

7

20

5

25

2

4:28

Punt

Detroit

3

3

0

3

0

1:26

Punt

Detroit

3

7

0

7

0

1:18

Punt

New York

4

35

0

35

1

1:34

Punt

New York

7

33

0

33

2

3:32

Field Goal

Dallas

6

15

0

15

1

2:34

Punt

Dallas

8

48

0

48

3

4:03

Touchdown

Green Bay

7

54

-5

49

3

4:22

Interception

Green Bay

4

76

0

76

3

2:28

Touchdown

Totals

 66

441

0

441

22

34:13

 

Averages

5.5 plays/drive

 

 

36.75 yards/drive

 

2:51/drive

 


The time of possession statistics are about the same. Everything else? HUGE advantage to Vikings' opponents.

If you look at the first two drives of each game, the Vikings have punted 10 times, given the ball up on downs once (against Miami, when Brad Childress inexplicably went for it on 4th and 2 in the first quarter when the Vikings were well within Ryan Longwell's field goal range), and turned it over on a fumble once (the botched handoff between Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson on the first drive of the Dallas game). On the other hand, Minnesota's opponents have scored four touchdowns, kicked one field goal, turned the ball over once, and punted only six times, or half of those possessions.

Minnesota has failed to score first in any of their six games so far this season, and that's a recipe for disaster, particularly with a quarterback that isn't playing particularly well. . .and, at this point, that's a very generous assessment of Brett Favre's level of play, which is something I'll get into on either Friday or Saturday. . .since it keeps you from being able to utilize the NFL's best running back to his fullest capability. And make no mistake, Adrian Peterson is playing out of his mind right now, and is on pace to have the best season of his career. He's currently second in the NFL in total yardage behind Oakland's Darren McFadden, and after 157 total touches has still yet to put the ball on the turf.

To put it simply, the Minnesota Vikings can not afford to keep playing from behind. The reason for that is simple. . .for this offense to be successful, it absolutely, positively MUST run through Adrian Peterson. Last year, this team might have been Brett Favre's team. It's not Brett Favre's team any longer. And if Brett Favre is going to continue to play the way he's played thus far in 2010, he's going to get yanked for Tarvaris Jackson, and this isn't going to be Tarvaris Jackson's team, either.

I understand that the prevailing wisdom is for coaches to script the first 10 or 12 or 15 plays of every game, and maybe that's part of the problem. Maybe the lack of imagination that Brad Childress has shown all this time as Vikings coach has made it that much easier for teams to anticipate what he's planning for those scripted plays to start the game and to stomp all over it before the Vikings' offense can get going. He's also known for the relative inflexibility of his offense. . .and that, in all likelihood, is not going to change. So, it's going to fall on the rest of the Vikings' offense to attempt to do what they can with what they're given and make it work.

Of course, that would require them to be disciplined, and that's been a problem early in games as well. As you can see from the tables above, the Vikings haven't gained a heck of a lot of yards on their opening drives to start with. . .and they've had nearly a third of that measley total taken away by penalties. Honestly, when you're having trouble gaining one first down's worth of yardage on an average drive and your opponents are averaging close to 40, that's going to flip the field and put your defense in a disadvantageous place.

I'm going to say what many of us have been saying since this season started. . .this team is too damn talented to be this bad, and they're in a very, very bad place this weekend going on the road to play one of the NFL's better teams. Do the Vikings have a level of talent that's capable of beating the New England Patriots? They certainly do.

The real question is can they put it all together sometime before halftime. They showed signs of it last weekend, and that needs to carry over into this Sunday's match-up as well.

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