Thursday, October 05, 2006

Grading the Vikings: Offense

This is going to be a long post as it is, so I’m going to skip writing a long introduction and start handing out grades for the first quarter of the season. Since I’m doing this at work, I’ll be doing it one unit at a time. Here’s the offense:

Offense Overall: C-

Quarterback: C

Running Backs: C

Wide Receivers: C-

Offensive Line: D+

The offense has been mediocre at best, and the grades reflect that. The Vikings’ are averaging 226 passing yards and 96.5 rushing yards per game, good for 11th and 22nd in the league, respectively. Where they are really lacking, however, is in their point production, averaging only one touchdown a game. Combined with the numerous penalties, and you have an offense that is a serious disappointment.

The passing game has been average at best, but has relied too much on short passes. Brad Johnson and his receivers can’t convert a third down longer than five yards if their life depended on it, partly due to the Brad’s weak arm, and partly due to the receivers’ problems with getting open and catching the ball. Compounding the problem, BJ has made some stunningly bad decisions, throwing three picks, forcing a deep ball on 4th and 2 and throwing the ball over the middle with 14 seconds left and no time outs, to name a few.

Savvy veteran Johnson making a bad decision

On the ground, Chester Taylor has not emerged as a feature back, only averaging 3.6 yards per carry. He has yet to make a defender miss, but when there is a hole, he hits it hard and can bulldoze his way for good yardage. Mewelde Moore has looked great when he gets carries, but his fragility will likely prevent him from taking Taylor’s spot as the starter.

It's hard to gain yards when the entire defense is in your backfield

The line has not blocked well, either for the run or pass. When you consider how much talent is on the left side of the line, you’d assume that the Vikings would be dominating people. Run blocking is not McKinnie’s strength, however, and it seems like the weak side ends have beaten Marques Johnson on almost every play. The line also has been penalized at an astonishing rate, killing drives and forcing the Vikings to settle for field goals. There is way too much talent here to explain their shortcomings, which is why they’ve earned the lowest offensive grade.

The offense has been the major weak spot so far this year and most of the blame for the Vikings' two losses can be directed towards their inability to score touchdowns, especially in the red zone, where they have only managed to punch it in twice in nine opportunities. Make no mistake about it, if the Vikings are going to challenge for a playoff spot, the offense must cut down on its mistakes, both mentally and physically and start scoring more than sixteen points a game.

No comments: