5 Ways to Fix the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings
0-3 Minnesota Vikings: 5 Ways to Fix it
The Minnesota Vikings have played much better than their 0-3 record indicates. They have been competitive in all three games and collapsed in the fourth quarter of the last two games.
The Browns’ victory on Sunday will sting the Vikings’ fan base more than the Bears victory because the Browns had a new starting quarterback, Brian Hoyer, and a running back committee.
The Vikings could have easily won both of those games, but their defense could not contain the Bears and Browns’ offenses.
Things are looking bleak in Minnesota, but there are worse 0-3 teams. The Jacksonville Jaguars have looked terrible on offense this season, scoring only 28 total points, and have shown to be the favorite for the first overall pick in the 2014 Draft.
Despite the 0-3 record, there are some signs for optimism.
This includes the Vikings having the best running back in the NFL, Adrian Peterson. He is extremely explosive when quarterback Christian Ponder gives him the football and he is very tough for defenses to contain.
The Vikings also have a very low point differential for a 0-3 team. Their point differential is -15, 81 points scored against 96 points allowed.
This shows that the Vikings have caught some unlucky breaks and they can turn it around.
The Vikings will play their next game against the 0-3 Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, in London. This is a must-win game for the Vikings if they hope to make the playoffs for the second straight year.
The Vikings are clearly the best 0-3 team, which is not a great accomplishment. There are five things to fix to avoid a disappointing season.
No. 5: Get Coradrrelle Patterson More Involved
The Minnesota Vikings have clearly under-utilized rookie wide receiver Coradrrelle Patterson this season.
Quarterback Christian Ponder has only targeted him seven times in the first three games. Patterson has five catches for 73 yards and a 105-yard kick return touchdown.
The thing that shows that Patterson has not shown his full potential this season is the 105-yard kick return touchdown against the Chicago Bears in Week 2. He was so quick that only the punter had a chance to tackle him and did not come even close.
The top wide receivers are veterans Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson. Patterson has the potential to help the Vikings win games, but they need to utilize him more on offense.
No. 4: Protect Christian Ponder
Opposing defenses have been able to get a lot of pressure on Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Christian Ponder. The key for a team to win on a weekly basis is for the offensive line to allow Ponder to have space to operate in the pocket.
Ponder has been sacked 10 times, eighth-most, and hit 16 times, 16th-most. The Vikings need to do a better job of protecting him.
Offensive line coach Jeff Davidson needs to develop zone-blocking schemes, so Ponder has more time in the pocket. If the Vikings want to have any chance of making the playoffs this season, they need to give Ponder time to find the open receiver.
No. 3: More Running Lanes for Adrian Peterson
Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson has shown on a weekly basis, since 2007, that he is the best running back in the NFL, when healthy.
Peterson is so talented that Fantasy Football owners are disappointed when he does rush for 100 yards and a touchdown. The problem for him this season is that he has seen fewer running lanes than last season.
He has 69 rushes for 281 yards and four total touchdowns, thus far. Quarterback Christian Ponder needs to perform better, so defenses will not be able to stack the box to stop Peterson.
This also requires the offensive line to do a better job of blocking, so he can find some running lanes.
No. 2: Better Fourth Quarter Play
The Minnesota Vikings have given up 21 fourth-quarter points this season. This includes giving up seven points in each of the last two games with under a minute to play.
The Vikings had leads in the past two games before they gave up those touchdowns in the last minute. A fast start is always essential to winning in the NFL, but a team needs to finish strong as well.
This comes down to head coach Leslie Frazier needing to make sure that his players are focused at the end of games to avoid future fourth-quarter collapses.
No. 1: Change the Defense’s Game Plan
In the NFL, there is a saying that defense wins championships. It also goes hand in hand with teams winning games.
The Minnesota Vikings’ defense has been terrible to start the season. They rank toward the bottom in points, yards allowed, and passing yards allowed per game.
When a team's defense is giving up an average of 32 points a game, it makes the offense have to compete that much harder to win. The offense should not have to try to score 33 points in a game in order to win.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams needs to come up with some deceptions and blitz packages in order to confuse the quarterback. The defense’s performance the rest of this season will determine if they have a shot of making the playoffs.