Last week the Vikings offense finished the game in a flurry, scoring 17 points in the final 8 minutes, 49 seconds of the game to cap a 27-24 overtime victory. As great as that was to see, Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said that he’d prefer to see his offense start fast rather than have to finish in a flurry.
“We’d like to start faster and get one of those first drives to get some points on the board and not put so much pressure on ourselves to have to make miraculous comebacks at the end of the game,” Bevell explained during his press conference on Thursday.
In looking at the numbers, the Vikings do need to improve their early-game offense. The Vikings are 1 of just 4 teams who haven’t scored any points on their 1st possession of the game. In their 8 opening possessions, the Vikings have punted 5 times and have 1 INT, 1 lost fumble and 1 turnover on downs.
This comes as a bit of a surprise for a Vikings offense that is relatively the same from last year. The Vikings ranked 5th in the NFL in points on opening possessions with 38. So what’s been the problem this year?
The numbers – and Bevell – suggest that self-inflicted wounds are generally the problem. Let’s take a look at the result from each game’s opening drive:
Week 1 @ New Orleans – A 3-and-out series and punt after a negative yardage play on 3rd and short
Week 2 vs. Miami – Turnover on downs in Miami territory after a false start on 3rd and 3
Week 3 vs. Detroit – Picked up one 1st down, then a negative yardage play led to punt
Week 5 @ Jets – A 3-and-out series and punt after 3 penalties
Week 6 vs. Dallas – Lost fumble
Week 7 @ Green Bay – Negative yardage play on 3rd and 3 and punt
Week 8 @ New England – No gain on 3rd and 1, then a punt
Week 9 vs. Arizona – Regained possession after INT-turned-touchback then allowed a sack on 3rd down, leading to punt
As you can see, there are too many instances where a sack or negative yardage play ruined a situation in which the Vikings should have converted a 3rd down to keep the drive going. Bevell agreed with this assessment, saying the teams goes back and looks at each opening drive to try and determine where improvements need to be made.
“As Brett (Favre) alluded to yesterday, we jump offsides, we have a missed assignment, we may drop a ball, we may not look at it right, we may miss a read. There’s a combination of things and we’re bringing it on ourselves,” Bevell said. “Our focus right now is continuing to talk about our execution and handling our business. We know what the defense is going to do. But we have to be able to react to the situations that we’re in better with our execution on a consistent basis.”
The Vikings will face a pretty good test this week as they try to improve their opening drive success. Soldier Field is typically a tough place for opposing offenses to get going early and the Bears have allowed 17 total points on 8 opening drives so far this season, which ranks right in the middle of the road compared to all NFL teams.
Tags: Darrell Bevell
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