The good news is that the Vikings earned a 1st-round bye and won’t play their 1st playoff game until 4 other teams are eliminated. The bad news is that means there will be no Vikings game to watch or talk about this weekend.
So we have to talk about something else in the meantime.
As a result, we’ve come up with 5 good and bad trends the Vikings have going as they enter the playoffs. The good trends are obviously ones we’d like to see the Vikings continue as the playoffs march on. The bad trends are ones we’d like to see eliminated, or at least tempered, as the postseason moves forward.
It’s always better to take the bad news first, so we’ll start with 5 trends we’d like to see eliminated. But come back around lunchtime because that’s when we’ll post the 5 positive trends.
1. Pass Defense
We all love the Vikings rushing defense – it’s #2 in the NFL. But at times the pass defense can make you nervous. While the Vikings aren’t terrible in yards allowed, there are 4 other areas of pass defense that need to be improved in the playoffs. They are:
1) Passing TDs allowed. The Vikings rank just 23rd in this category with 26 allowed, and only 2 other playoff teams have given up more passing TDs (Philadelphia, Green Bay).
2) The Vikings are tied for 26th with just 11 INTs. No other playoff team has fewer than the Vikings 11 INTs.
3) Opposing passers have a 92.5 passer rating against the Vikings and no other playoff team is allowing a better rating.
4) Opposing passers are completing 63.7% of their passes against the Vikings and only 1 other playoff team (Indianapolis) is allowing a higher percentage of completed passes.
2. Negative Plays On Offense
The Vikings were the league’s 2nd-highest scoring team behind New Orleans and only 4 other teams averaged more yards per game, those are great trends. On the flip side, though, the Vikings led the league with 116 negative plays. The Vikings were a great 3rd-down offense, converting 44.8% of their 3rd down conversions, but they could be even better on 3rd downs (and all other downs) if they could decrease their rate of negative plays.
The Vikings finished on the plus side of the turnover margin in 2009, but they finished in a tie for 22nd with just 24 takeaways. Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier stresses taking the ball away to his defense, and he’ll continue to do so as they prepare for their 1st playoff game.
4. Ball Security
Fumbling wasn’t a rampant problem for the Vikings in 2009, but at times it reared its ugly head. The most memorable fumble is of course RB Adrian Peterson’s in Chicago, but he wasn’t the only guy to put the ball on the ground. Favre lost one in Pittsburgh that was returned for 6 points and both Chester Taylor and Darius Reynaud fumbled against the Giants in Week 17. Maybe we’re being nit-picky here, but it’d be nice to see 0 fumbles during a long postseason run.
5. Kick Return Coverage
Before we get into this one, I want to qualify this trend by saying 2 things: 1) the Vikings kick coverage units were much improved from last year and generally performed well on a week-to-week basis and 2) the Vikings covered more kickoff returns than any other team during the regular season. With those 2 things said, the Vikings did allow 53 kickoff returns of 20+ yards, which was 2nd-most in the NFL, and they allowed 6 kickoff returns of 40+ yards, which was tied for the 4th-most. Again, maybe we’re being nit-picky here, but it’d be good to see a couple of 0s in those categories during a long postseason run.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor, Darius Reynaud, Leslie Frazier
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 16 Comments »