I was checking the records yesterday, and I found myself thinking, "Self, how can a team that could set an all-time mark for rushing defense be 6-7?"
Then I started looking at the stats available on NFL.com.
This is what I found:
Record of opponents the Vikings beat: 25-43 (Seattle holds nearly 1/3 of those wins)
Penalties: 1st in the NFL
Third-down conversions: 25th
Third-down attempts: 1st
Fourth-down attempts: 1st
Total fumbles: tied for 3rd
Granted, numbers themselves don't mean a whole lot, but some of those are pretty glaring.
I also think that, should the league keep such a stat, the Vikes would lead the NFL in Third Down Plays That Ended Up One Yard Short Of The First Down.
You can look at the turnover list and see Chicago is actually worse.
However, they and Minny are the only two teams among the 10 worst turnover offenders with a positive margin - the Bears are just an anomaly and the Vikings are +3.
Such great teams as Detroit, Cleveland, Oakland and Tampa Bay also pop up there, along with last year's Super Bowl teams Seattle and Pittsburgh (and look at how they're doing).
Then there's this stat - Time of Possession: 1st.
We hold the ball longer on average than any other team; and of course, Rushing Defense: 1st.
You look at that stat and think, not only do we stay on the field, we prevent the other team from staying on the field.
And yet, 7 losses.
Now, I read in another post that many of the losses have been close, and that's true.
But the wins haven't all been great, either - 3 over Washington, 3 over Carolina, 5 over Arizona, 2 wins over Detroit, a 2-win team, by 9 and 10 points, respectively.
We have beaten one team with a winning record, and Seattle is schizophrenic as anyone this year.
My biggest beef is that going into the year, I was led to believe Johnson was the QB because he had the experience and the smarts to not make a lot of mistakes and there he is with a 1:2 TD-to-interception ratio.
Yes, some picks are tipped balls and so forth.
But that is hardly game managing.
Another issue I have is the West Coast Offense; I hate it's purpose, the way it's run, and it's safety-first attitude.
The Vikings do not really have a home-run threat on the field at any time (Taylor's 90+ yard scamper notwithstanding), so getting back into a game quickly is not a strength.
But I digress.
So how to fix it?
How to right the ship?
For starters, take advantage of the things we ARE doing well, running the ball and preventing the other team from doing so.
By committing penalties left and right and committing so many turnovers, the advantage disappears.
By shutting down the run, we force a QB to win a game.
In the 6 wins, we've seen 2 Super Bowl QBs but Delhomme looks sad this year and Hasselbeck lasted less than a half before injury; the rest (Kitna, Leinart, Brunell) shouldn't pose a problem.
In the losses, Brady, Favre, and Losman were good enough to beat us.
Against Chicago, Miami and SF, the QBs were unspectacular, but the defenses bailed them out.
Turnovers lost those games.
As far as the third downs go, I don't know who to blame really, but as an armchair QB I blame the playcalling.
In conclusion, I started this post rather bitter, but now recognize with that just a few minor adjustments could do wonders for this team.
Yeah, the passing game stinks, the pass defense breaks down without a good rush, and the special teams coverage needs work...but Minny could be 9-4 right now if they'd stop shooting themselves in the foot.
Suddenly I'm optimistic!
Re: Numbers game
Turnovers and penalties. They've both killed us this year.
We've had a lot of penalties at big places in the game. We've had TONS that have taken us from 3rd and short to 3rd and long and we've had 3 or 4 touchdowns called back because of them. It's been awful.
We always got on meathead Tice for the penalties, but Childress's team shows even LESS discipline than Tice's did. This is where I am the most surprised/disappointed by Childress. I hope it has more to do with undisciplined players than it does coaching, otherwise this could be a persistent problem.
Add to that the turnover situation, and I think we're LUCKY to be 6-7. Imagine what our record would be if we were in the top half of the league in turnovers. We'd easily be 10-3...it's a shame.