Aug 9, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart (32) is tackled by Houston Texans nose tackle Earl Mitchell (92) during the first quarter at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings To Return To Run-First Philosophy

The Vikings offense the last couple games has been confusing.  The team is usually a team that runs the ball down team’s throats to open things up for the passing game.  Unfortunately, things have gotten out of hand with Minnesota’s philosophy.

Here are the number of run and pass attempts so far this year:

  • Week 1 vs Lions: 28 passes – 22 rushes
  • Week 2 vs Bears: 30 passes – 33 rushes
  • Week 3 vs Browns: 42 passes – 31 rushes
  • Week 4 vs Steelers: 25 passes – 25 rushes
  • Week 6 vs Panthers: 44 passes – 13 rushes
  • Week 7 vs Giants: 53 passes – 14 rushes

As you can see, things have been pretty balanced through the first four weeks of the season, then the numbers got all out of whack.  Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave also realized this problem during the week 7 game and talked about the issue:

Dec 23, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave coaches against the Houston Texans during the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium. The Vikings won 23-6. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

“Yeah, it got out of whack there. When we got down 23-7 I think we called 30 [passes],” Musgrave said. “Trying to move the ball one way or the other, run or pass. As we know, we weren’t having a lot of success up to that point with either one, run or pass. Definitely not the plan and it’s tough when games go like that.”

But things weren’t out of hand early in the game, when the Vikings weren’t rushing the ball and instead were having Josh Freeman passing the ball after only being with the team for about two weeks.  Head coach Leslie Frazier knows that the run game is his bread and butter and it needs to be established each and every week.

Aug 25, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier reacts after a penalty against the Vikings during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

“We can’t get away from it. We know how we’re built and we know in order for us to be good at running the football, we have to stay with it. We realize that,” Frazier said. “We need to be more patient with our run game for sure.”

So why aren’t the Vikings being more patient in getting a run game established?

“I don’t know, that’s a good question,” Peterson said. “I have no idea. I can’t answer that.”

Dec 23, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings tackle Matt Kalil (75) smiles after the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. The Vikings won 23-6. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, the offensive line continues to struggle in both pass protection and run blocking.  Although they know they will have to play better, the players on the offensive line know how just how important the run game is to the Minnesota Vikings offense.  Matt Kalil made it known in a recent interview that running the ball is essential for the team’s success.

“Our goal is to get four or five yards every play with the run,” Kalil said. “Obviously, with Adrian back there, those big runs will come. So I guess we just have to be a little more consistent in the run game. I think we got the right focus this week. I think that’s Vikings football, running the ball and being physical up front. That’s definitely our game. That’s what we did last year and we definitely need to get back to that. We need to do a better job as an offensive line.”

Vikings fans won’t have to wait long to see if the team is serious about having this run first approach. Minnesota faces off against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football this week.  In order to have a chance in the game. Minnesota must get Adrian Peterson going.

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Tags: Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings Toby Gerhart

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