Since they drafted Adrian Peterson in 2007, no team has run the ball more effectively than the Vikings. They rank first in total rushing yards (11,368), yards per carry (4.7) and runs of 10+ yards (334). Last Sunday, though, the Vikings running game got off track a bit.
The Indianapolis Colts held the Vikings to 3.7 yards per carry on 26 attempts. As a result, the Vikings offensive coaching staff is as much, if not more, concerned about addressing the team’s issues in the running game as they are trying to devise ways to get the ball downfield. After all, if you can’t keep a defense off-balance by running the ball, finding holes in the defense to beat them deep in the passing game will be even tougher.
“We ran the ball a bunch and we didn’t have any explosive runs,” Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave said on Thursday. “We’ve addressed our lack of explosive passes this week, but we also didn’t have any explosive runs against Indianapolis. I think the longest one was for six yards. We’re ready to ramp up all of those departments.”
If the Vikings can find a way to rip off a few explosive runs against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, they might also be able to take a shot or two downfield via the passing game.
“You would like to think that that would be the case,” Musgrave said. “That was something that was definitely missing from the field on Sunday were our chunks, and we don’t want to make a habit of that at all.”
The #1 asset Musgrave has in turning things around in the explosive running game is the best RB in the NFL – Peterson. With him toting the ball, the Vikings have not ranked lower than 8th in any season in runs of 10+ yards. In 2007, Peterson’s rookie year, the Vikings ranked 1st with 87 such runs. They ranked 4th in 2008, 6th in 2009, 8th in 2010 and then last year Musgrave’s offense ranked 3rd with 75 explosive runs.
The kicker this week, though, is that as the Vikings try to get the explosive running game back on track they’ll be going against a defense that doesn’t yield very many of them. Since 2009, the 49ers defense has never ranked lower than 5th in opponent’s explosive runs. Last year, in fact, the 49ers were 1st, allowing just 27 runs of 10+ yards. This year through two games, the 49ers have allowed just 1 run of 10+ yards.
The Vikings rushing offense against the 49ers rushing defense is one of the better matchups within this weekend’s game, and the winner of this matchup will take a big step toward victory.
Tags: Bill Musgrave, Leslie Frazier
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