Frazier, Vikings Striving For Improvement In 2-Minute Defense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 18, 2012 – 6:32 am

Leslie Frazier met with reporters on Monday for his customary day-after-the-game press conference, and he didn’t shy away from the reality that his team just didn’t do enough to get a win against the Colts on Sunday. It was a frustrating loss for the Vikings because this was a game many expected the Vikings to win despite being on the road and it was a game that featured a spirited comeback by the Vikings after they fell behind early.

“We just didn’t play well enough on the road and clean enough as a team to get a road win,” Frazier explained. “We have to go back and go through the tape with our players and talk through some of those situations and try to get better. We have to get better for our next ball game.”

Frazier went on to explain one of those specific situations where he knows his team must improve – two-minute situations. Offensively, the Vikings are actually tied for the third-most points in the final two minutes of the 2nd and 4th quarters (17). But defensively, the Vikings haven’t fared as well.

The Vikings are tied for second-last in the NFL with 21 points allowed in the final 2 minutes of the 2nd and 4th quarters. In Week 1, the Jaguars scored a TD late in the 4th quarter to take a lead. In Week 2, the Colts scored a TD at the end of the 1st half to increase their lead to 17-6 and then they drove 45 yards in 23 seconds to kick a game-winning FG.

“We’d like to be better in two-minute,” Frazier said of his defense. “We’re not doing very well right now in two minutes, at two minutes before the half, at two minutes at the end of the game. That’s glaring so we have to do better.”

Frazier also made a good point regarding the specific importance of his team’s performance in two-minute situations, saying he expects his young team to be in a lot of close games. Doing the little things right and executing the game plan in those situations, even at the end of the 1st half, can be the difference between a close win – like the win against Jacksonville – and an excruciating loss – like the loss in Indianapolis.

“The way our team is built, we’re going to play a lot of close games,” Frazier explained. “We’ve talked about that all along with our guys and we have to play good two minute offense, good two minute defense, good red zone defense, good red zone offense. Two minutes, yeah, we have to do better in that area.”

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Vikings Looking To Turn Early-Game Production Into TDs Rather Than FGs

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 18, 2012 – 5:53 am

The perception of the Vikings offense through the first two games of the season is that the group is slow-to-go early in the game before they find rhythm in the middle of the game to start producing late in the game. And if you look at the Vikings points scored by quarter (3-10-7-23), the numbers support that perception.

But while the scoreboard does not reflect it, the Vikings offense this past Sunday in Indianapolis took a step forward in early-game production and was actually just as efficient early in the game as late in the game. In their first two drives of the game, the Vikings ran 21 plays and gained 105 yards, an average of 5.0 yards per play. In their last two scoring drives, the Vikings ran 19 plays and gained 96 yards, an average of 5.0 yards per play.

The problem? Both of the early drives ended in FGs rather than TDs.

And that’s a significant problem. It’s a problem Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier was asked about on Monday during his customary day-after-the-game press conference.

“It’s something we’re going to talk about,” Frazier said. “You like the fact that we’re finding our groove as the game goes on, but we’d like to get started earlier. We talked about that during the week. On the road, you really don’t want to get the home crowd involved, especially when it’s their home-opener and we’re moving the ball on offense in the first half but we weren’t finishing with touchdowns. Those field goals, if they were touchdowns, maybe the game is a little bit different early on, but it is something we have to go back and keep looking at this week.”

The hurry-up offense is one facet working well for the Vikings. Is that something the team will look at employing with more regularity?

“We’ll look at it,” Frazier said. “We do have some no-huddle in our offense, but we’ll take a look at what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and what’s going to give us the best chance to succeed this next weekend. We’re going to explore all avenues. We want to get off to a faster start for sure.”

The Vikings will prepare this week to face the San Francisco 49ers, a team that is 2-0 after impressive wins at Green Bay in Week 1 and at home against Detroit in Week 2. The Vikings have not played their best football through the first two weeks, but because of the caliber of opponent they were able to hang around and have a chance to win each game, taking advantage of that chance in a Week 1 overtime victory and falling short in a tight Week 2 loss at Indianapolis. If the Vikings are to hang around and have a chance to win against the 49ers, the offense will have to score TDs rather than FGs early and often.

“We’re going to be playing at home,” Frazier said. “We want to get off to a fast start on offense and defense along with special teams and have our fans in the game early.”

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