Is there anything better than watching the Vikings offense methodically drive down the field against an opponent and put together a 9-, 10- or 12-play drive that eats up a bunch of clock?
Actually, there might be. While those extended drives are a function of the offense exerting its will over the defense, they also expose the offense to costly mistakes that come in the form of penalties, sacks and turnovers.
Perhaps a better way to do it is through short drives that are highlighted by explosive plays. An explosive play is a run of 12+ yards or pass of 16+ yards. Explosive plays allow the offense to pick up chunks of yards at a time and move down the field quickly, before a great defensive play or untimely penalty can stall a drive.
A great illustration of this point came earlier this year when the Indianapolis Colts defeated Miami 27-23 on the road. In that game, the Dolphins crushed Indianapolis in time of possession by a 45:07 to 14:53 margin. Yet it was the Colts who came out on top because they were able to strike quickly with explosive plays – they had TD drives of 1, 4 and 6 plays. The Dolphins, meanwhile, had a 14-play drive that ended with an interception, a 12-play drive that resulted in a missed FG and 10- and 13-play drives that ended with FGs.
Statistics through 3 games show that the Vikings are better off when they have shorter drives that feature explosive plays. Of the Vikings 10 TDs this season (including Percy Harvin’s 101-yard TD return), the average number of plays per TD drive is 5.7, including a pair of 1-play drives against the Browns and Lions (there was also a 0-play drive – Harvin’s return).
On the flip side, the Vikings have had a number of long, time-consuming drives that didn’t result in TDs. Against Cleveland, the Vikings had a 12-play series that resulted in a FG. In Detroit during Week 2, the Vikings had 10- and 9-play drives end in FGs. And last week against San Francisco, the Vikings punted after a 9-play drive and kicked FGs after a pair of 7-play drives.
Of course it’s important to salvage drives with FGs, but clearly an explosive play or 2 in those longer non-TD drives would increase the likelihood of the Vikings capping the series with 7 points rather than 3, even though the drives had fewer plays and didn’t consume much time.
So while it’d be great to see the Vikings churn out a bunch of 10-play drives tonight against the Packers and dominate time of possession, it seems more effective for the Vikings to manufacture shorter drives that are more explosive.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 10 Comments »