Sep. 26, 2016
Can the Vikings fix their offense?
The Minnesota Vikings were the last unbeaten team in the NFL coming into Week 7. They proceeded to lose in Weeks 7 and 8 to the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears respectively.
In their two losses, the Vikings only managed to score 10 points in each game. They are currently 5-2 with a one-game lead over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, but there are a lot of concerns over the Vikings offense.
The biggest reason for the Vikings offensive struggles has to be rooted in injury problems. In the preseason their starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, suffered a dislocated knee and a torn ACL in an awful injury. This led to the Viking trading for Sam Bradford from the Eagles.
After two seasons, Bridgewater showed he is one of the up-and-coming young quarterbacks in the NFL and led the Vikings to a division title in 2015. Last season, Bridgewater completed 65 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns and a Total Quarterback Ranking of 62.7 (where 50 is average). This past week their offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigned, after two embarrassing games.
With Bridgewater out, the Vikings turned to the veteran Bradford. His career has been defined by injuries. He missed all of 2014 and half of 2013 with knee injuries and has only played all 16 games in a season twice. He has never been able to really get his career going after being the first overall draft pick in 2010.
Before 2016, Bradford only had one season (2013 when he played in seven games) where his Total QBR was over over 50. He has also had a problem with turning the ball over. In 2010, 2013, and 2015 Bradford threw double digit interceptions.
However, this season has been his best in the NFL, by far. He has a Total QBR of 72.9, a 66.5 completion percentages, eight touchdowns, and one interception. Even though the Vikings lost their starting quarterback, Bradford has done an adequate job of filling for him.
The real problem has been the loss of their running back, Adrian Peterson. Peterson tore his meniscus in Week 2 this season and was placed on injured reserve. There is a chance that he can return from IR at the end of the season but it is uncertain if he will. In his career, Peterson averages 96 rushing yards per game. This season, the Vikings are only averaging 72 yards per game on the ground, which only the Giants are averaging less.
The loss of Peterson is hurting the Vikings more than the loss of Bridgewater. In Peterson’s absence, Bradford has not stepped up his game at all and neither has his receivers. Outside of Stefon Diggs, the Vikings do not have any play makers among their wide receivers. For this offense to become a threat, they need another playmaker. Bradford has been a suitable replacement for Bridgewater as the quarterback. The Vikings have been winning games because of their defense (14.9 ppg allowed) which has been the NFL’s best. With Peterson out, the Vikings will have to continue to rely on their defense to win games this season, but it he can come back before the postseason, the Vikings will be serious Super Bowl Contenders.