It’s safe to say, the Vikings’ offense needs work.
A lot of work.
In last night’s 14-9 loss to the Saints, the Vikes mustered only 253 total yards – 222 fewer than they put up against the Saints in last year’s NFC Championship Game. They put together only two good drives all night, both in the second quarter.
They scored only one touchdown, on a 20-yard pass from Brett Favre to Visanthe Shiancoe. Shank would wind up the top receiver of the night, catching 4 balls for 76 yards.
Things did not go so well for some of Favre’s other alleged receiving targets. Percy Harvin caught only 1 pass for 12 yards, and got lectured on the sidelines at least twice by Brad Childress for not running the right route. Bernard Berrian was even worse: he caught only one pass for 3 yards, dropped a sure first down, almost fumbled away a punt and got tackled by the turf monster on another punt.
Favre’s numbers ended up looking very pedestrian: 15/27 for 171 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, and a QB rating of 71.7. Somewhat stunningly, only 44 of Favre’s passing yards came in the second half. The quarterback threw 7 straight incompletions from the start of the third quarter until midway through the fourth when he finally hit a 6-yarder to Jim Kleinsasser.
Favre was quick to take responsibility for the poor offensive performance, telling reporters after the game, “I think the timing was a little bit off. Without looking at the film, off the top of my head, there were three or four throws that I just missed. I have no excuse other than just missing them. I threw one behind Greg Lewis. I had a couple of reads that I should have made differently. If I do that, I think it is a different ballgame. Overall, I just missed on some throws that I should have made.”
Favre certainly can’t blame poor pass protection for his struggles last night. After the pounding he took in the NFC Title Game, the Vikings made certain to keep plenty of blockers in, employing multiple tight end sets all night, and frequently leaving backs in the backfield to block. All this was in anticipation of the kind of crazy blitzing Gregg Williams employed last time the teams met – except, this time, Williams mostly elected to eschew the blitz and drop into coverage. This tactic may have contributed to Favre’s confusion.
All-in-all, the Vikings’ gameplan was very conservative – understandable given the lack of work Favre got with his receivers in the preseason. They ran the ball a lot in the first half, and Adrian Peterson was able to put up some yards, though he failed to break any long runs. In the second half, Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell tried opening things up a little, but Favre was never able to find the rhythm.
Given Peterson’s success in the first half, perhaps the Vikings should’ve run the ball more in the second half. Peterson certainly seems to think he needed to touch the ball more. Peterson said after the game, “I’ll do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to help this team win. I don’t know if coach heard me, but I remember walking by in the second half on the sideline saying, ‘Hey, give it to me. Feed me.’ I don’t know if he really heard me. But there’s a lot to learn from this game.”
Peterson carried 13 times in the first half for 57 yards, and caught 2 passes for 17. He got only 6 carries in the second half for 30 yards, and caught only 1 pass for minus-3 yards – this while Brett Favre was going 0-for-7.