There has been a lot of criticism over the past few years about the Vikings being a conservative offensive team. I am one of those critics, especially on Sunday afternoon when it is 2nd and 9 and we run up the middle for 2 yards.
So I see two questions that should be answered:
1. Are we too conservative on offense?
2. What makes all of us (me included) feel we are too conservative?
So first, are we conservative. To discuss that we have to define conservative, and I see 2 ways to do that. First we run more than we pass. Second, we run plays that are expected and never really surprise the opponent, or us fans.
In order to avoid the TL:DR, I will only look at the first questions; Do we run more than we pass? Over the past few years our Passing Play Percentage, and NFL Ranks are:
2021 60% 13th
2020 54% 27th
2019 52% 29th
2018 64% 4th
This is interesting. While true in 2020 & 2019, the "we run more than we pass" argument really does not hold for this year and 2018. We can use the same argument for either passing more, or running more, we have elite talent at both those positions.
So if there is no real consistency in "run too much, pass too much", is it the type of running or pass play we call that pisses us (and me) off? On first down in 2021, the Vikes run 54% of the time. In 2020, it was a bit less at 51%. On 2nd down, we run it 45% of the time, which feels about right to me. However, on 2nd and 7 or more, we still run it 42% of the time, which seems off. This is roughly the same percentage in 1st half or 2nd, which confuses me too, because I can see us doing it more first half "Establish the run", and makes we think we try too long to keep establishing it. When you get to 2nd and 10 or more, only 3 teams run more than the Vikings, Chicago, NO and surprisingly Buffalo. This trend is even worse in the 1st half (run 48% of time on 2nd and 10 or more, versus 33% in 2nd half). So to me, it looks like we may try too hard to "establish the run". The defenses are on to us as well on 2nd and long, as our "success percentage" is tied with 3 other teams at 5th worse at 36% of the time it is successful.
So my conclusion on "Do we run too much?" is that we do favor the run but only on those 2nd and long more than other teams. The downside, which drives us all crazy, and it is not working real well, setting us up for 3rd at long. On 3rd and long we do pass a lot and have reasonable success (rank 10th in conversions). So given we do convert well, even when the run gets us into trouble, may be a reason to "keep establishing the run"? But for me, I feel like lets’ stay out of 3rd and long, my stomach is too sensitive.
By the way, all stats taken from: https://www.sharpfootballstats.com/situational-run-pass-ratios--off-.html