Minnesota Vikings: 5 Changes to Beat the Arizona Cardinals

Matt LeirdahlContributor IIIOctober 6, 2011

Minnesota Vikings: 5 Changes to Beat the Arizona Cardinals

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    For the Minnesota Vikings, the 2011 season has been a huge disappointment. Going into Week 5, the Vikings are still winless. All four of those games could have been won by the Vikings—very easily.

    They have not lost a game by more than seven points!

    The problem for the Vikings is that they are beating themselves week in and week out. This week, they should try something new, and beat the other team.

    In order to win this week against the 1-3 Arizona Cardinals, there are a few drastic changes that need to be made.

Different Quarterback Looks

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    Lately, it seems as though everyone has been jumping on the "Start Christian Ponder" train. 

    Since the Vikings are 0-4 and Donovan McNabb is clearly not the long-term solution for the Minnesota Vikings, starting Ponder may be tempting. However, it would be a mistake.

    Sure, rookies like Andy Dalton and Cam Newton have been doing fine, but those teams had nothing to lose when the season started. The Vikings had a chance at making the playoffs. 

    Now that the season is basically over for the Minnesota Vikings, there is no reason to rush Ponder into the fray. They should wait until he fully understands the system, and is comfortable starting for the Vikings. 

    In the meantime, however, the Vikings should explore other options. They could look at putting Joe Webb in at wide receiver, not at quarterback. 

    This would throw off the defense, and create a whole host of offensive options for the Vikings. Utilizing plays like these could infuse energy into the team during the second half, and maybe they could score some points. 

Give Percy Harvin the Ball

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    One thing that the Vikings offense needs to do is get Percy Harvin the ball more. 

    He is one of the most dynamic players in the league, and he only had nine touches last week against the Chiefs. How can the Vikings expect to win like that?

    The Vikings can split him outside or line him up in the backfield. It doesn't really matter. All they need to do is find creative ways to get him the ball. And no, bubble screens are not creative.

    They also need to make sure that he is back returning kicks. At any point in the game, he can return one for a touchdown. That is a huge advantage, and those are points that the offense doesn't need to score. 

More Flexibility

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    One of the things that has been plaguing the Vikings has been their inability to adapt. It's no coincidence that the Vikings have blown three halftime leads.

    They are not adapting and changing the game plan to the situation.

    Donovan McNabb has not been calling audibles at the line of scrimmage. Whether it's the coaching staff not giving him the autonomy to do so, or if Donovan does not understand the system well enough to do so, it needs to change. 

    Opponents are adapting to the Vikings. The Vikings need to follow suit. 

More Adrian Peterson

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    The Vikings have the best running back in the league. He needs to be utilized to the full extent of his abilities. 

    All season long, the trend has been to get Peterson the ball as much as they can in the first quarter, and then progressively give him the ball less and less as the game goes on.

    Peterson has the ability to wear down a defense. As the game goes on, the intensity with which the Vikings use him should stay the same. Peterson would be thrilled if this was the case. 

    In the first half of all of the games, Adrian Peterson has three touchdowns and 274 yards. 

    In the second half of all of the games, Peterson has 0 touchdowns and 102 yards, with 13 fewer carries than in the first half. 

    In the second half, the Vikings need to continue to give him the ball. It doesn't have to be fancy, just right up the middle. No defensive coordinator can make enough adjustments to stop Adrian Peterson on an off-tackle run in the fourth quarter. 

Finish!

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    This is the most important change that the Vikings need to make. They need to finish the game. No one has beaten the Vikings yet. They have beaten themselves four times.

    This means keeping composure. 

    Late-game penalties have been a constant drive and morale killer of the team. The worst part about the penalties is that they typically come in the second half, when it matters most. 

    Finishing also applies to the coaching staff. They need to make adjustments, manage the clock properly and put the ball in the right people's hands in the second half. The Vikings have too much talent to be 0-5.