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In The NFC North, It's The Quarterback Play...Or Lack Of It

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When looking into the Vikings divisional struggles, one problem is pretty apparent

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It's no secret that the Minnesota Vikings have struggled to compete within the NFC North in recent seasons, and one of the primary reasons is quarterback play. Quite frankly, it's been atrocious for the Vikings, and pretty stellar for the opponents.

But just how bad has it been?

Well...pretty ugly. Going back to 2011, it's been brutal, actually. Let's look at what the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Green Bay Packers quarterbacks have done, collectively:

Year

W-L record

Att

Comp

Comp %

Yards

TD

Int

TD/Int ratio

2011

6-0

191

135

70.6

1617

14

1

14/1

2012

2-4

254

162

63.8

1811

11

5

2/1

2013

3-2-1

232

152

65.5

1822

12

3

4/1

2014

5-1

191

124

64.9

1227

10

3

3/1

2015

0-1

53

32

60.3

286

2

1

2/1

Total

16-8-1

921

605

65.7

6763

49

13

3.8/1

Avg season

4-2

230

151

65.7

1691

12

3

4/1

Avg game

36.8

24.2

65.7

270.2

2

0.5

4/1

The quarterbacks that the Vikings have faced in those 25 games are:

Chicago: Jay Cutler, 6 starts Josh McCown (2), Jason Campbell (mop up duty in 2012 blowout win)

Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers, 7 starts, Scott Tolzien/Matt Flynn, 1 (2013 tie game. Tolzien started, Flyyn relieved)

Detroit: Matthew Stafford, 9 starts (includes 2015 week 2 game)

Conversely, let's take a look at how the Vikings quarterbacks have fared over that time:

Year

W-L record

Att

Comp

Comp %

Yards

TD

Int

TD/Int ratio

2011

0-6

230

123

53.4

1323

6

9

1/1.3

2012

4-2

171

101

59.0

935

7

4

1.75/1

2013

2-3-1

183

112

61.2

1323

5

6

0.8/1

2014

1-5

212

132

62.2

1302

5

10

1/2

2015

1-0

18

14

77.8

153

1

0

--

Total

8-16-1

814

482

59.2

5036

24

29

Avg season

2-4

203.5

120.5

59.2

1259

6

7.25

.8/1

Avg game

32.6

19.3

59.2

201.4

0.96

1.2

The quarterbacks that have started for the Vikings in that time span are:

2011: Donovan McNabb (2), Christian Ponder (4). However, Joe Webb saw more action in 2 of Ponder's starts as he replaced Ponder for poor play early in the second quarter, so it was essentially McNabb, Webb, and Ponder getting two starts apiece.

2012: Ponder (6)

2013: Ponder (4), Matt Cassel (2)

2014: Teddy Bridgewater (5), Ponder (1)

The chasm between the QB play between the Vikings and the rest of the division is stark. The Vikings can't complete 60% of their passes against what are three average to bad defenses, for the most part. The TD/Int ratio is atrocious, and if you'd like some more eye opening numbers, consider this:

The Vikings have had as many quarterbacks start or play a majority of the game against the NFC North teams as Green Bay, Chicago, and Detroit have had start...combined.

NFC North QB's have thrown for over 300 yards 10 times. Vikings QB's have done that once.

NFC North QB's have had multiple TD games 16 times. The Vikings have accomplished that five.

How about zero interception games? NFC North QB's 14 times.  The Vikings QB's have managed about half that, or eight times.

Well, how about multiple interception games? The most interceptions NFC North QB's have thrown against the Vikings in one game is two, and they've only done that three times, and all three of those games were against Jay Cutler. Yes kids, that's correct, the Vikings have not picked off Aaron Rodgers OR Matthew Stafford more than once in this time period.

How about multiple interception games for the Vikings? Eight times, with four of those games three interception games. Ponder had one, Webb had one, and Bridgewater had one.

Ever since the Bears traded for Jay Cutler and the Lions drafted Matthew Stafford, the arms race in the NFC North has been on, and the Vikings have been woefully behind. We're all encouraged by what Bridgewater has done since he became the starter for the Vikings, but to date, he is only 2-4 against NFC North teams...In Thenbut he is on a two game winning streak. Bridgewater has been good, for the most part, but it's time for him to step up his game.

Because if the Vikings are going to contend for the NFC North title on a consistent basis, the gap between the play of the Vikings quarterbacks and the rest of the quarterbacks in the division is going to have to close a lot more. And soon.