Thursday, October 09, 2008

Punting, Big Plays and the Pass Rush

  • The Vikings currently have the worst special teams unit in the NFL, ranking last in DVOA. Naturally, Brad Childress has chosen to react to this by bringing in random people to challenge Chris Kluwe for the punting job. Obviously, Kluwe had an awful game against the Saints. That being said, an equal amount of blame needs to be placed on the coverage unit. Kluwe's one of the better punters in the NFL. He didn't look like it on Monday Night, but it doesn't matter if you have Ray Guy punting for you if your entire cover unit has no lane discipline and lets themselves get blocked.
  • Unlike last year, when the Vikings were tied for fifth in "Net Big Plays" at +18 (and had the second most big plays, behind only San Diego, with 61), the Purple this year have given up more big plays than they've made and are currently tied for 22nd, with a -3 Net Big Plays. The problem isn't because they aren't making big plays, however (they're tied for 5th with 17), it's because they're giving them up at an almost alarming rate of four per game. The 20 they've given up is the second most in the NFL (behind only the 49ers) and almost half of the 43 they gave up in 16 games last year. Luckily for the Vikings, the Lions are among the worst at making big plays, and are tied with the Dolphin for last, with only 5. Detroit's net is the worst in the NFL as well, at -13.
  • Despite bringing in Jared Allen, the Vikings' pass rush remains below average, and has actually been about the same as it was last year. The Purple had an adjusted sack rate of 5.5% last year. This year, it's 5.6%. Now, that doesn't factor in the fact that the Vikings have faced two quarterbacks who are almost impossible to bring down due to their quick releases. Peyton Manning has only been sacked 2.8% of the time he's dropped back to pass in his career, and Drew Brees' sack rate is 3.9% (remember, everyone was excited about Frerotte's low career sack rate of 6.0%). Luckily, they don't have to worry about Jon Kitna's ability to get rid of the ball quickly--his sack rate with the Lions is 9.2% (assuming he's able to play despite his back injury, which happened during one of the 15 times he's been sacked this year).
  • If you're looking for a reason not to trust Football Outsiders' stats, I've got one for you--Gus Frerotte is 12th in DYAR and 11th in DVOA among quarterbacks so far. He's ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisburger and his soulmate, Kerry Collins. I have a feeling this will work itself out--as I said during the game, while Gus Frerotte has been a better quarterback than Tarvaris Jackson so far, he's by no means been a good quarterback.
  • The Vikings are the only team in the division to beat a team above .500 so far. They're also the only team to beat two teams in the top 15 in DVOA. Chicago's the only NFC North team to beat a top 5 DVOA team, however, with their win against the Eagles and both Chicago (11th) and Green Bay (18th) have a higher DVOA than the Vikings (19th).

1 comment:

playwheniwannaplay said...

- how can you say tyrell played ok. i know it's early but i've been disappointed with his ability to cover the intermediate and deep center of the field. you can tell that sharper is frustrated. on the td to henderson and the 3rd and 16 completion he was giving way too much cushion.

- funny that childress is making such a big deal w/ kluwe but has defended visanthe to some degree when he has underperformed. props to visanthe for improvement last couple games.