Sunday, September 18, 2011

Failure to Roll Dooms Vikings in Second Half

In the first half of the Minnesota Vikings 24-20 come-from-ahead home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Vikings mixed their offense nearly to perfection, lacking only a deep pass in the team's arsenal. Included in that mix were tight end passes, passes to Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, and runs by Adrian Peterson and the surprisingly capable Toby Gerhart. More importantly, however, that mix included a blend of pocket and out-of-pocket passes by Donovan McNabb--with a heavy emphasis on rolling McNabb.

The second half of Sunday's second consecutive second-half disaster offered little of what the Vikings had to offer in the first half in building a 17-0 lead. That's largely the consequence of a complacency that led the Vikings to hold to pocket passing. This allowed Tampa Bay to focus its defensive efforts and made the Vikings' offense, clearly absent the deep-threat that makes the pocket pass so valuable, one and one-half dimensional, with only the run and short pass available.

Not surprisingly, the Vikings failed too often to move the ball in the second half. And Tampa Bay took advantage, dominating both time of possession and yardage total in the second half. The result was an exhausted Vikings' defense, most aptly epitomized by Cedric Griffin's non-play on Tampa Bay's final passing touchdown.

If the Vikings hope to overcome their second-half malaise, they must acknowledge two things--that they lack any meaningful downfield threat (leaving aside, for the moment, whether Donovan McNabb has the accuracy to hit such a target) and the offensive line is unable to maintain a consistent pocket. To win, the Vikings need either a quarterback who can roll out of the pocket on a regular basis for an entire game....or they need a much larger half-time lead. The first half of Sunday's loss suggested that McNabb is at least willing to roll. If he is not, or if he is unable, it would behoove the Vikings to move to a plan that permits them to dodge their greatest deficiency.

Up Next: Stadium Numbers.

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