The Vikings entered their bye week on a very high note after defeating the Carolina Panthers last week, but there were still a myriad of improvements that needed to be made. So they must’ve addressed them, right?
Well, considering I can’t predict the future—not yet anyway, but I’m working on it—I thought we would explore what improvements the Vikings were in need of.
I am approaching this piece with the hopeful outlook that the coaching staff had the wherewithal to figure this stuff out, so if they did not, perhaps a good old-fashioned sacking will be needed after this week.
Let’s take a look at what’s what!
Whenever a new quarterback takes over a team in football—rookies especially—we often see a slight improved play from the offensive line, and we've seen this particularly with Minnesota since Ponder has been the starter.
The issue, though, is the O-line is already beginning to revert back to its original state—unreliable and chaotic—after only a few games.
With Christian Ponder under center, and the Vikings facing three teams out of their next four total contests who stink at coverage (GB, OAK, and DEN), one has to imagine the Vikings did something—anything—to improve the play of that line.
The omitted team was the Atlanta Falcons, who are currently ranked seventh in overall pass defense.
If the Vikings were able to improve the O-Line, their chances of winning three out of their next four will significantly grow.
The Vikings have had some suspect planning on the defensive side of the ball through the first half of the season, and hopefully Fred Pagac realized this and addressed the issue.
At times, the Vikings seemed to throw out calls just for the sake of it, as if each fourth-quarter call was nothing more than a blind bet.
Again, the Vikings face four teams they can certainly take advantage of if their defensive game planning underwent an adjustment, with the hopes of improving.
So what am I talking about?
Mainly the style of blitzes being called, from the outside, and why that is leaving this Minnesota team burned every time.
First and foremost, the corners do not get up to the line and make contact, which gives the receiver a free release, and when that happens on a blitz, the receiver has nothing but empty space to take advantage of.
The Vikings do, however, successfully blitz from the inside with the Henderson boys, but they rarely use such plays.
Hopefully, they improved upon this approach.
Up until the Carolina game, this Vikings team couldn’t convert a third down if they were given a free down to operate, and in the NFL, bad third-down conversions spell disaster for any team offensively.
It isn’t a difficult task to improve upon as a collective staff just needs to realize what has worked in the past, what hasn’t worked and adjust—easy-peasy!
A team that does not convert on third down is a team that does not move the ball and sustain drives; an aspect the Vikings have been victim of all year.
Hopefully, this improvement was first on their list!
The Vikings have a set of receivers who can in fact get the job done, but the problem has been their initial release off the line of scrimmage.
While this issue is much more difficult to improve in just one week, it can certainly be addressed.
The receivers are slow to get off the line, and defenses are not afraid to jam them after the snap. This approach causes massive disruption in the route-running, and in an overall sense, allows a defense to destroy the offensive attack from the onset.
Minnesota’s receivers MUST do a better job off the line if they are to be considered threatening.
Doing so will allow the offense to open up different offensive approaches, while also utilizing other situational plays such as play-action, slants and quick routes.
This can go either way because it rests solely on the team to improve upon their morale, or let it stew.
After losing a slew of games that they should’ve won, yes, I can imagine the sullen atmosphere of that locker room, but there is still plenty to look forward to.
The Vikings are coming off of a victory against the formidable Panthers team, and they did so with their quarterback of the future under center. They have one of the best ground assaults in football and there is still time to entertain finishing at .500 or better.
This team needs to remember that it is far better than its current record suggests, and once that happens, the improvement can begin to take shape from that foundational thinking.
Five needed improvements, one week to get it all done—let’s see what happens!