Wanting to start quickly is not a novel idea for offenses. Anyone who knows football knows that it’s much easier to operate offensively when you have a lead. Both Head Coach Leslie Frazier and QB Christian Ponder spoke at length on Wednesday while meeting with reporters about starting fast this week against Seattle, so it’s obvious the idea has been a talking point for the Vikings.
And for good reason. CenturyLink Field, home stadium of the Seahawks, is regarded as one of the toughest places to play in the NFL.
“Their fans do a good job of getting in the game early and making it hard on offenses and teams in general to function, much like our fans here,” Frazier explained. “When we have it going it’s a tough, tough place to play at Mall of America Field and their environment is similar in that way. You don’t want to fall too far behind in that environment, it can be tough.”
Seattle is 9-2 over the last calendar year at home, including 3-0 this season with impressive wins over Dallas, Green Bay and New England. CenturyLink Field is especially tough for opposing offenses. The Cowboys offense averages 19.5 points per game this season, but they managed just 7 points in their game at Seattle. Green Bay was held to 12 points (they average 24.1 per game) and the high-octane Patriots offense was held a full TD+ below its season average.
In order to avoid a similar fate, the Vikings offense must make strides of improvement this week in practice. That fact is not lost on the coaches or players coming off last week’s loss to Tampa Bay, a game in which the Vikings offense turned the ball over three times, went 3-and-out on its first 3 series and generated multiple 1st downs on just three of its first 12 possessions.
“There are some things we definitely want to do better,” Frazier said of his offense’s early-game struggles against Tampa Bay. “Get some first downs, we talked about that and we’re going to do our very best to improve in that area. We don’t want to have a lot of three-and-outs, especially on the road this week. We want to put some first downs together in order to help our team.”
There is good news and bad news. The bad news is the offense wasn’t able to generate enough production for a win. The good news is that Ponder and Co. believe the mistakes that led to the loss are correctable.
“It goes back to execution,” Ponder explained. “It really wasn’t anything they did, it goes back to what we did, which is a good sign. Everything is fixable, so we just have to fix it.”
The Vikings started that process early. Frazier had his team report to Winter Park on Monday before taking the day off on Tuesday and then resuming preparations for Seattle on Wednesday. The extra days off over last weekend following Thursday night’s game helped coaches and players clear their minds and recharge their batteries. The extra practice on Monday was designed to help the Vikings correct mistakes and regroup for an important week.
“Obviously, we have a lot of stuff to work on this week,” Ponder said. “I thought Monday we came out and kind of focused on us before focusing on Seattle. We had a great practice and did a lot of things to improve and we’re going to keep doing that this week and we’re looking at having a big jump from last Thursday to this Sunday, and we’re excited about it.
“It’s a good opportunity to start the second half of this season. It’s crazy that we’ve already played eight games, but we’re in a good place right now and we’re going to keep looking forward.”
Tags: Christian Ponder, Leslie Frazier
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