If I had to narrow down my biggest complaint vs. Childress and Bevell (and Frazier to a slightly lesser extent), it would be that the Vikings' coaches seem to live in a time capsule and strategize as though the NFL were a run-heavy league. It is not a run-heavy league. It is a pass-heavy league, mostly due to rule changes in the past 6-10 years. In 2009, the 2 most dominant teams were the Saints and Colts, and both were pass-happy teams. 8 of the teams with the 12 best pass defenses by passer rating allowed were playoff teams, and 2 of the top 3 advanced as far as the conference championship games. Conversely, only 6 of the top 12 rushing teams from 2009 played in the postseason. The Vikings were 13th in rushing yards and 8th in passing yards in 2009--a possible sign that the coaches had finally learned something--and with so many clear signs in front of them that a run-heavy offense and a run-stopping defense was not likely to win a Super Bowl in today's NFL, I had high hopes for this season.
The Saints' first play was a pass from the shotgun formation, a crystal clear sign that they understand that the NFL is a pass-heavy league. 4 plays later (including only 1 incomplete pass and 1 rushing play), the Saints were in the end zone. I told myself that there was plenty of time left, as many other fans did.
"Surely the Vikings will pass at least once on this series, " I said to my brother. Nope: Run RT for 3; Run RT for 5; Run LG for -1 when it was 3rd and 2. That script must have been borrowed from 2006 when the Vikings must have had some of the worst playcalling in the history of the NFL.
Here are some relevant stats:
+ In 2009, the Vikings produced 5 more runs of 10+ yards than they did runs of 0 or negative yards.
- Last night, the Vikings produced only 2 runs of 10+ yards and 5 runs of 0 or negative yards, or -8 worse than 2009.
- Last year, the Vikings "only" allowed a passer rating of 92.5 (good for 27th).
- Last night, the Vikings allowed a passer rating of 101.3 (would have ranked 31st).
- The Vikings ran the ball about as often as the Saints, who were protecting a lead most of the game.
Kevin Siefert cited several more key stats in today's article. To sum them up:
+ The Saints had never scored so few points under Sean Payton (although the Saints had nearly scored 6-17 more points and intercepted Favre more than once).
- The Vikings went 3-and-out (or 3 plays and an INT) on 5 of their 10 possessions (3 of the 3-and-outs were in the 5 2nd half possessions).
- Favre's passer rating was twice as bad as it had been in last year's NFCCG.
- Peterson produced what he did vs. favorable defensive fronts.
- The Saints made an adjustment that limited Shank to only 2 passes his way and no catches in the 2nd half (not to mention holding the Vikings scoreless in the 2nd half).
- The Vikings do not have the cupcake schedule that they had last season.
Sure, the Vikings may have merely been rusty in a few spots, but the coaches appeared to have learned nothing. They will still be in charge after the rust falls off.