3rd Quarter melt downs

I stumbled upon this article over at Viking Update. John Holler paints quite the discouraging picture with this statistic.

How much weight should be given to third-quarter production? Let’s put it this way – the top five teams in third quarter scoring disparity made the playoffs and the top three teams earned the four available playoff byes. Only 13 of 32 teams outscored their opponents in the third quarter and nine of them made the playoffs, including all of the top five.

A view from the flipside? Of the 19 teams that didn’t outscore their opponents in the third quarter, 15 of them did not make the playoffs – 79 percent. The teams that ranked at the bottom three of the NFL in that category have the top three picks in April’s draft.

Coincidence? Not a chance.

Last among those teams? The Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings not only allowed the most third-quarter points, but their scoring disparity of minus-71 was the worst in the league – behind even 2-14 Indianapolis (minus-56) and St. Louis (minus-63).

Below is the entire list of teams and their fate in the third quarter. Each team is listed, followed by their points scored, points allowed and the disparity in those two numbers in parentheses. While there are a few anomalies – Seattle and Miami are unusually high and the Giants are pathetically low – this may be the most pure form of ranking a coaching staffs in the NFL. And, by that standard, the Vikings were the worst-coached team in the NFL. Here is the list:

New England – 141-50 (91)
Green Bay – 150-66 (84)
San Francisco – 101-40 (61)
New Orleans – 126-67 (59)
Detroit – 125-74 (51)
Seattle – 90-40 (50)
San Diego – 116-67 (49)
Miami – 91-50 (41)
Cincinnati – 86-50 (33)
Philadelphia – 74-64 (10)
Baltimore – 78-71 (7)
Houston – 63-56 (7)
Pittsburgh – 63-56 (7)
New York Jets – 75-79 (-4)
Arizona – 79-85 (-6)
Carolina – 83-90 (-7)
Tennessee – 67-74 (-7)
Washington – 60-73 (-11)
Chicago – 83-95 (-12)
Dallas – 62-75 (-13)
Denver – 75-91 (-16)
New York Giants – 59-79 (-20)
Tampa Bay – 65-86 (-21)
Cleveland – 35-62 (-27)
Jacksonville – 33-64 (-29)
Buffalo – 78-109 (-31)
Oakland – 66-115 (-49)
Kansas City – 43-95 (-52)
Atlanta – 74-127 (-53)
Indianapolis – 36-92 (-56)
St. Louis – 37-100 (-63)
Minnesota – 61-132 (-71)

While no statistic is infallible, this one does as much to explain success and failure as any. Of the 12 playoff teams, only three of them (Denver, the Giants and Atlanta) were on the wrong side of third-quarter scoring. Two of those – Atlanta and Denver – had humbling postseason exits.

But, where Vikings fans should be concerned is that not only were the Vikings the worst in the league in scoring disparity, but their 132 points allowed in the third quarter not only were the worst in the league, but only three other teams allowed more than 100 points in the third quarter – Oakland, Buffalo and Atlanta, all teams that had collapse moments during their seasons that turned momentum and promise into offseason disappointment.

It can be argued that the success and failure of coaching staffs can be accurately measured by third-quarter scoring. Run down the list and it is almost a blueprint of disappointment for most of the 2011 season. It seems fitting that the Vikings are at the bottom of that list. They deserve to be there.

When one looks to assign blame to the 2011 Vikings season, it’s equal opportunity. There wasn’t a phase of the game – offense, defense or special teams – that didn’t have its back-breaking moments that good teams largely avoid. The coaches can prepare players and, a strip sack, a one-handed catch, an incomprehensible punt return for a touchdown can all do in a team effort. But, when it comes to third-quarter performance, the onus lies as much on the coaching staff as it does on the players.

The coaches are asked to spend days preparing for an opponent and 10 minutes at halftime to devise alternate plans to win games. The seamless coaching staffs accomplish that mission. The ragged ones don’t. The Vikings were the most ragged of them all. With the exception of Atlanta, you have to go a long way up the list before you find a team that most objective fans can say is better than the Vikings when it comes to players on the roster.

If one statistic could be your guide for regular-season gambling, third-quarter scoring (the result of halftime adjustments) might be the one you would want most. The rankings speak for themselves.

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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