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Additional Minnesota Viking Commentary

Between the 20's:  
In the NFL, is it better to have a 20 yard run or a 20 yard pass between the 20 yard lines?  Since the result is the same, then you'd expect the answer to be that it doesn't matter ... but it does.  

Maybe we've been brain washed having Adrian Peterson in our backfield for so long.  Having such a great runner made it possible to face a defense that had to compress the box first before having the option of getting into coverage.  Our problem, was of course, that we had a laundry list of quarterbacks that included Christian Ponder to help us seal the deal ... that is until Teddy arrived.  

Really, the answer to this simple question is in fact quite simple.  The 20 yard run is vastly greater than the 20 yard pass and you need to look no further than one key stat that absolutely anyone that knows football can understand.  That is the 100 yard rusher.  For example, any time Green Bay sported a 100 yard rusher, playing with either Brett Favre or A. A. Ron, then we'd be in for a very long day.  What was Dan Marino without a viable run game?  Can anyone still remember that John Elway posted 3 Super Bowl losses before Terrell Davis?
So why is this of fact?  It is because the box to defend compresses in the Red Zone.  A one-dimensional team that passes with success between the 20's is most certainly not going to now shift into trying to run the ball in the red zone.  It is the threat of that run in the Red Zone that shifts a defense to "UNBALANCED" ... as even a 2 yard net gain on the ground is better than an incomplete pass.  To put this into perspective, think about Head Coach Mike Zimmer's defense which gave up big chunks of yards between the 20's where the opposing offense would stall in the Red Zone.  It happened week after week & to great success.  What Head Coach Mike Pederson understood & bought into the light of day was that in the Red Zone (or close to it), to prevent the stall, he might need that 4th down.  More importantly, he understood Mike Zimmer's concept of taking the underneath to get you into the place he wants you ... the Red Zone.  If you stalled and kicked a field goal or worse, he clearly understood that he won & that offense in time would make mistakes.  Instead what we got from Philadelphia was Alshon Jeffries over the top & unstoppable chunks by their all world tight end.  Last Thursday, what head coach Sean McVay gave us is a major dose of over the top & to great effect.  Although you'd like to point to missing Everson Griffen ... stating woe is me ... it was in fact a ploy to intentionally not fall into Zimmer's trap.  You see ... when you're at the top of the heap ... you get studied overly well ... and you need to adapt quickly to the observation.  Keep faith brethren ... as Prime Time said unequivocally ... do you have any idea what you have in Head Coach Mike Zimmer up in Minnesota.  

What Doug Pederson clearly understood was for this over the top strategy to work, he needed to manufacture time, which is exactly what they did to great effect.  What that meant is stalling that Minnesota Viking rush.  He did it by running the ball, by inserting misdirection, and by incorporating the run-pass option.  That split second needed to counter that first move by both Pederson & McVay was all they needed.

So, what might be the solution for Head Coach Mike Zimmer.  It begins with swallowing his pride to grasp a greater understanding of how he's been out maneuvered.  They have found his weakness, and are playing to its strength against him but it is clear that he can no longer give it up over the top.  Coach
Zimmer knows what that means ... but it's about winning ... not fantasy stats.  Hello!  With Kurt Cousins you have that luxury now.  

So in evaluating our offense, our greatest offensive threat, Dalvin Cook, has been nursing a hamstring injury, where he has been on a pitch count since opening day due to his prior injuries.  To be direct, holding Cook out this weekend might be our best move.  Thus, the issue becomes his replacement along with our plan of attack. 
Flip has a brilliant mind but he's always in end of game mode.  He is his own worst enemy where he's playing right into a weekly disaster.  At present, based upon his numbers (pressures allowed & yards on the ground), he's got to be frustrated, but the answer is right at his fingertips,  He just needs to recognize the facts for what they are. 

Latavius Murray is in cruise control mode, which isn't doing anyone any favors.  He knows that he gets to collect his check, and if there's very little yards gained on the ground that he gets to relax ... not take the hits ... and then verbally get to complain about it by saying he just doesn't understand what's going on.  In short, he needs to have a real fire lit under his hind quarters as next year he doesn't get paid, unless he can demonstrate that he wasn't fed the ball & that he had no control over it.  In other words, he's living in a world of entitlement.  He's entitled to backup Dalvin Cook & if there's little or no production on the ground ... tough!

This brings us to our next question.  Without either Cook or Murray as viable options who & why do we consider as our next candidate.  Of course, the only answer comes from history in the form of Bill Walsh & Marshal Faulk.

Although CJ Ham can be relied upon for misdirection, as a key blocker to protect Kirk Cousins, he maybe too valuable to rely upon to carry the load.  Mike Boone, on the other hand, is most likely the heir apparent to Murray, but he's somewhat of a clone of Murray.  We need to effect change at the line of scrimmage to open up the running game ... which means Bill Walsh's concept of passing the ball to set up the run.  What Flip has missed is that in "end of game mode", or most recently said, "we have to get on top first mode", is that I'm not talking about feeding the ball to Rudolph, Diggs, or Theilen on first down.  I'm talking about feeding Marshal Faulk.

What makes Dalvin Cook so effective, is not running the ball up the gut but rather him catching the ball out of the backfield.  What separated Marshal Faulk & Kurt Warner from the pack is that they didn't sit down in any zones by having Faulk bleed his energy to catch the ball.  Faulk caught the ball on the run & when it happened, what resulted was an unbalanced linebacker trying to react to that hurricane in front of them.  Today's defenseless receiver rule makes this concept even more lethal.

There is a reason why Roc Thomas is on your roster as he's a more lethal version of McKinnon out of the back field.  At present, he's so hungry that he could be asked to do the impossible by being asked to catch that ball out of the back field on the run.  Roc Thomas is more than capable ... as long as he vows to never fumble Coach Zimmer's rock.  You have a world class quarterback in your backfield that can hit any target, in any possible way, where if Cousin's is smart ... he won't foolishly put his running back at risk (live for another day).  To be direct, even if this was only executed once in any game, the effect & result would astound Flip.  This small change would be enough to set off that defensive rush and push it off kilter enough to open up that running game.  The concept is simple.  The running back bleeds himself out of the backfield, then darts at full steam to catch the rock on the run in open pasture.  All defensive adjustments pivot around defending this one simple concept.  Sure, we didn't practice any of that but that is exactly what I'm asking you to do.
Everyone knows how a defender uses the side lines to tackle.  It's as if you have two defenders rather than just one.  For Flip, the question is, how many defenders do you need to stop Roc Thomas wreaking havoc downfield?  Of course the answer is at least two.  Now what if Roc can make that first defender miss.  "SOLUTION!"  Shurmur understood this to great effect as McKinnon was no mistake.  We ain't playing fantasy football ... this is the NFL.  

So what might be the result.  Murray gets that fire lit finally forcing that production.  Thomas gets his chance to show the NFL who & what he is all about.  Flip gets to move on from knowing that he's desperately close to achieving his masterpiece & Head Coach Zimmer & this franchise finally get back on track.   All the pieces are there but only if we can keep Thomas healthy.  All Cook needs is the time to properly heal ... after that ... the #$%@ will hit the fan & the winds of momentum will shift.  Is Tom Brady any good at small ball? 

The Viking Ghost Writer
Date: October 5, 2018