Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Predictability, Thy Name is Childress/Bevell

Vikings fans have complained incessantly about the the Vikings' offense since Brad Childress' first game. They've said it was too predictable, too reliant on short yardage plays and unable to put points on the board. They were right.

On Sunday, the Vikings ran 26 plays on first down, including one play that was negated by an illegal shift by Jeff Dugan. Of those 29 plays, 12 came in the first half and 14 came in the second half. Of those 26 plays, the Vikings ran the ball 21 times, eleven times in the first half and ten times in the second half. Those numbers also include two first down plays on the final drive, where the Vikings had to throw. And even including those two plays, the Vikings still ran the ball 72.4% of the time on first down. I wonder if the Chiefs noticed? (Let's see here...36 total yards in the second half? I think the Chiefs adjusted.)

If the Vikings had realized the Chiefs were planning on flooding the box with 8 or 9 defenders (something you think they'd have noticed), they should have been able to torch them on first down. Instead, they kept pounding Adrian Peterson into the line, which, surprisingly enough, didn't work too well. The Purple got an 12 yard run and a 9 yard run out of Peterson on first down and one 11 yard run from Mewelde Moore, but also got carries of -1 yards, -5 yards, -2 yards, 0 yards and 3 yards. That's 4 plays that, considering the Vikings lack of big play makers, basically doomed drives and one carry that helped a little.

Here's the really infuriating thing: the Vikings weren't having a lot of success running the ball on first down in the first half either, where they ran the ball for -4 yards, 16 yards, 11 yards, -1 yards, 10 yards, 1 yard, 0 yards, 5 yards, 1 yard and 3 yards. Out of ten rushing plays, they got first downs three times, got a good gain once, an average gain once and got one yard twice and had no gain or lost yardage three times.

My guess is that Childress and Bevell ran the ball so many times because they didn't want to get into second and long situations due to failed passes. I hope that they knew their offensive players aren't good enough to convert 2nd and 3rd and longs and so they ran the ball on first down in order to create manageable 2nd and 3rd downs. And, if so, that, at least, makes sense. That doesn't mean they were right to do so. Anytime you have such a predictable pattern in the NFL, you are going to fail. And the Vikings were about as predictable as you can get on first down. And thus, the offense failed miserably.

And that's enough of that awful game. I'm going to be kicking off Packers Week later this afternoon/this evening. I don't really think the Vikings are going to win, but they only need to pick off Farve twice to get him to 277 and tie him with George Blanda for most interceptions thrown.


Anonymous said...

The Vikings don't have the receivers to torch anybody when the box gets crowded, nor do they have a qb who throws a good enough deep ball to make a max protect/double move route against press coverage a good option.

Playcalling is typically a function of personnel. If Brad Childress had say, Jeff Garcia and Joey Galloway, instead of Kelly Holcombe/Tavaris Jackson and Bobby Wade, the playcalling would be considerably different. If Childress is to criticized, it is for, 20 months into the job, not having a qb on the roster who throws well 25 yards or more downfield. Why any defensive coordinator scheming for the Vikings would ever have a safety more than 10-15 yards off the line of scrimmage is beyond me.

This weekend, given the Packers' corner play, we may never see a safety more than 10 yards off the line of scrimmage. The Vikings' defense is going to have to deliver a superhuman effort, and the special teams will need to have a couple of good returns, in order for this game to be competitive. Kevin Williams and Spencer Johnson are really going to have to collapse the pocket, because I doubt the Packers will bother to rush more than a few perfunctory attempts.

TBird41 said...

Here's the thing though: the Vikings weren't this predictable in either of the first two games. Perhaps it's because they were starting Holcomb, but aside from that, it makes no sense for them to run THAT often. They're more likely to get 4 yards on a short pass with 9 in the box than by running the ball.

Anonymous said...

Wait a second; if the playcalling broke a trend from the first two games, then how was it predictable?

Look, I'm being a little facetious here, but it seems to me that talking about playcalling on a NFL team which does not have a qb who can consistently throw an accurate pass more than 25 yards downfield, or a receiver who can consistently gain seperation, or catch a ball with defenders next to them, is like talking about a 100 year old man's bad smoking habits; it really isn't all that important. This team's roster looks right now like it is inadequately constructed to win games in the NFL, the head coach has been on the job for 20 months, and it is fair to hold him responsible for some guys he chose to put on the roster, instead of other guys, if the guys he chose don't start demonstrating that they have the skill set required of starters in the NFL.

TBird41 said...

I wasn't clear enough in my first comment--it didn't break a trend: the Vikings ran 56% of the time on 1st down in the first two games.