Since 2006 the Vikings offense has gone through a gradual progression, from productivity as well as mode of productivity. For an illustration of the Vikings gradual improvement in offensive productivity since 2006, check out the chart below…
|3rd Down Conversion||33.1%||34.5%||39.5%||44.9%|
|Average Yds. Per Pass||5.4||5.8||6.0||7.1|
I don’t have a similar chart to explain the trends in mode of productivity – or in other words, how (running the ball vs. passing the ball) the Vikings have managed to produce on offense. Suffice it to say, the Vikings were a run-heavy offense from 2006-08, but turned into a more pass-heavy attack in 2009.
As the Vikings offense sputtered at times during the first half of 2010, many observers began to wonder and question aloud whether the Vikings offense had progressed into too much of a pass-heavy attack. Leslie Frazier seems to have been wondering the same thing, and he’s emphasized several times since being named interim head coach that he’d like to get back to the Vikings true identity – a great run-stopping defense and a great rushing offense.
“As I said before, we’re at our best when we’re running the ball and stopping the run,” Frazier said on Wednesday. “That’s who we are. That’s our identity.”
That hasn’t been the Vikings offensive identity for much of 2010. Prior to last week’s game against the Washington Redskins, the Vikings passed the ball 57.5% of the time (355 passes in 617 plays from scrimmage) and ran the ball 42.4% of the time (262 runs). Against Washington in Frazier’s first game at the helm, though, the rushing identity came back. The Vikings ran 62.2% of the time and passes 37.3% of the time.
So why did the Vikings stray from the run-oriented attack early in the season? The answer is likely complex and would require more than a blog entry to answer. But Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was asked about it on Thursday.
“One, you’ve got to go with what’s working,” Bevell said, referring to the Vikings boasting the NFL’s 8th-best passing attack a season ago. “Two, we wanted to have a little bit more balance (than in years prior to 2009, when the offense was run-heavy). You can go back all the way to ’06 when all we really could do was run it. And we ran it against as many guys (defenders) as they wanted to put in there. People were asking ‘How come we can’t be more explosive?’”
Bevell raises a good point. Prior to the Vikings signing QB Brett Favre before the 2009 season, the Vikings were often criticized for leaning too heavily on the run and not being able to ignite the passing game. Last season, the passing game was on fire and when times got rough, many criticized the Vikings for not running the ball enough.
Regardless of that debate, it’s clear that the Vikings team as it stands now is committed to re-establishing the running game and, more importantly, finding a balance in playcalling.
“I think you’re always striving for balance and you want to get as close to a balance as you can,” Bevell explained.
The one time when you don’t want to be balanced, though, is at the end of the game. That’s because a team would like to be protecting a lead and grinding out a victory, which is exactly what the Vikings were able to do against Washington last week. The Vikings salted away the final 6:13 of the clock against Washington and ran the ball 9 times in 10 plays before kneeling 3 times to end the game.
“Anytime that you can put a team away, or exert your will on them,” Bevell said, “I think you want to be able to do that.”
Tags: Darrell Bevell
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