Vikings 60-second rant: More play-action passing

Posted Oct. 04, 2011 @ 7:08 p.m.
Posted By Christian West

At 0-4, the Vikings' season is looking very bleak. It should come as no surprise that this team probably won't make the playoffs. But it has had a chance to win every game this season, including against two of the better teams in the league, the Chargers and Lions.

This team is a couple of second-half first downs from possibly being 3-1. So how can that be fixed?

The easiest solution is play-calling. Through the first half against the Chiefs, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was mixing in play-action and runs beautifully, especially on first and second down. The Chiefs had come into that game with a mandate to stop Adrian Peterson, which made them susceptible to the playaction.

The play-action passing game had two effects on Donovan McNabb and the Vikings' offense: First, it allowed them to max-protect and gave McNabb time to survey the field on deep dropbacks, when he is at his best. Second, it allowed them to take shots down the field, which has always been McNabb's greatest asset as a passer.

The problem was that, as the game wore on, Musgrave got away from this approach and fell into a predictable slew of calls, allowing the Chiefs' front seven to tee off on Adrian Peterson and OLB Tamba Hali to attack McNabb.

The offense needs to continue to use play-action to create favorable matchups on the outside and allow McNabb to make throws of 15-plus yards, instead of having him make shorter throws, which he struggles with.

With that, WR Devin Aromashodu needs to see more action, as he made a good play to get the 34-yard touchdown, while Bernard Berrian, an alleged speed demon, needs to see less because of his inability to consistently make plays, save a good catch he made on a critical fourth down.

The passing game needs to be based on play-action and stretching the field vertically. Teams are completely selling out to stop the run, and although McNabb isn't the quarterback he once was, he can still take advantage of one-on-one coverage deep. The offense looked very good in the early parts of the Chiefs game, where mistakes were the only thing hurting its progress. If the Vikings can replicate that success, maybe the season won't dissolve into a "Suck for Luck" campaign by November.