One of the main culprits for the Vikings missing the playoffs in each of the past two seasons has been their abysmal run defense. They were 10th-worst in the NFL in terms of yards per rush in 2020, and then they bottomed out last season by allowing 4.7 yards per rush, fourth-worst in the league.
With the addition of Harrison Phillips to beef up their defensive line, Minnesota should be able to win more battles on the line of scrimmage this year. Additionally, Jordan Hicks has been a proven run-stopper at linebacker. Pairing him with Eric Kendricks looks to make a terrific duo at off-ball linebacker in the Vikings new 3-4 defense.
Third Down Conversions
The Vikings were one of the NFL’s worst teams in terms of time of possession, and while the run defense certainly attributes to that, another problem for this Vikings team comes on the offensive side of the ball. While the Vikings defense was terrific on third down, the offense was atrocious, converting just 36.4% of their attempts.
Much of Minnesota’s problems on third down had to do with what happened on the first two downs. The Vikings offensive line was notorious for committing penalties on early downs, and even still, the Vikings continued to run the ball. With an improved offensive line and more effective offensive scheme, the Vikings should be much better in this department in 2022.
Throughout his career, Kirk Cousins has been one of the best play-action QBs in the NFL. His passer rating of 119.8 was the best in the NFL on such throws. You’d assume that this meant Minnesota often called these plays for him, but that was not the case.
It was quite the opposite, though. Cousins attempted just 149 play-action pass attempts, nearly 100 fewer than the top QBs in the league. There’s certainly room for more play-action in the Vikings offense this year, and Kevin O’Connell should integrate it into the scheme.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing as well as minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh can often be found training for a marathon, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his takes, NFL and otherwise, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken