Photo - Adam Bettcher (Getty Images)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - Oh boy…I hate to have to say this, but here we go again. Sunday’s 44-31 loss makes it three weeks in a row that the Minnesota Vikings have been blown out by their opponent. Last night it was the 1st place Packers, last week it was the last place Giants. It doesn’t make a difference, the Vikings cannot stop anybody right now and their offense isn’t clicking on any cylinders whatsoever.
So here we go, let’s take another look at last night’s torturous Sunday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings.
(1) Third downs, the bane of the Vikings existence…
If you’re going to stop the opposition’s offense, you NEED to get off the field on third down. Needless to say, this is something that the Vikings failed to do last night. The Green Bay Packers opened up last night’s game converting on their first seven third down situations, one of them being a touchdown pass. Even though they failed on their eighth attempt, they converted the ensuing fourth down conversion so it didn’t really matter.
All in all, on the evening the Packers went 13-for-18 on third down (72%) and 2-for-2 on fourth down (100%). Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went 12-for-12 passing for 187 yards and two touchdowns on third and fourth downs. With all of this said, it should surprise no one that through the first 8 weeks of the season, the Minnesota Vikings are dead last in third down scenarios allowing the opposition to convert 51% of the time (53 of 104 attempts). By the time that this thing ended last night, the Packers had proven to be so dominant that their punter Tim Masthay had not stepped on the field (for punts) a single time.
Sometimes it’s tackling, other times it’s coverage, but most of the time it stinks. Last night’s third down struggles led to a lop-sided time of possession and a lop-sided final score.
(2) Time of possession: Green Bay: Yes, Minnesota: No
To be fair, that fake statistics in the sub-title should be credited to former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. But seriously, the final time of possession last night ended up 40:54 in favor of Green Bay and 19:06 for the Vikings. It should then be no surprise to you that the Vikings are dead last in the league for time of possession (24:52).
These first two points obviously go hand in hand as the Packers posted scoring drives of 7:24, 8:24, 8:10 and 6:36.
This problem is nothing new for the Vikings. Last week against the Giants time of possession went 36:22 - 23:38 in favor of New York. The week before it was 36:27 - 23:33 in favor of the Panthers.
The time of possession statistic is interestingly embarrassing stat because it is one of the only numbers in the game that show the futility of both your offense and your defense in the same breath. At 32nd in the league, you scream to your opponents, we don’t know how to get you off the field and our offense plans to give it right back to you. That’s not good.
(3) Opposing defenses don’t worry, the Vikings will neutralize Peterson on their own
It’s not too often that you see the reigning MVP of the league neutralized on a weekly basis. It’s even more rare that you see that happen at the hands of the player’s own team. With an offense that is struggling and a defense that may be struggling more, that is effectively what the Vikings are doing to Adrian Peterson over the past three weeks.
The last three weeks have seen Adrian Peterson rush 10 times against the Panthers, 13 against the Giants and another 13 times last night against the Packers. Barely reaching double-digit rushing attempts has forced Peterson who averaged 160 yards per game down the stretch a year ago to 159 TOTAL yards over the past three weeks combined.
“We haven’t been able to [string together long drives] on a consistent basis on offense this season,” head coach Leslie Frazier said after the game. “We’re trying to figure out ways to keep drives going because one of the things that it does is keep the ball out of Adrian’s hands as well when we aren’t able to stay on the field. It’s been an issue.”
Peterson is now 81 yards behind his pace from one year ago and will need to average 170 yards to match his 2,000 yards from a year ago. Seems like an insurmountable feat.
(4) Christian Ponder’s time in Minnesota is officially over
Hello my name is Aj, and I’m an admitted Ponder backer. Or at least I was…the distinction needs to be made between like someone as a person and liking them as an athlete. I like Christian Ponder as a person; I am done with him as starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings.
The table was set for Christian Ponder on Sunday night to play with a reckless abandon that would have served him well against the Packers. Instead, Ponder looked lost once again. Making his first start since opening the season 0-3, Ponder went 14-for-21 passing for 145 yards and zero TDs. A passer rating of 86.4 (his highest rating of the season). What was bothersome was reading between the lines on these statistics.
Ponder struggled to see his receivers, finding his first read and then panicking. He had happy feet, again. There seemed to be no rhythm between Ponder and the offense. It was herky and jerky and incredibly ineffective.
With Minnesota heading to Dallas next weekend to face a perturbed Cowboys group, look for Josh Freeman to get the start and probably run the show the rest of the way.
(5) Cordarrelle Patterson continues to shine on rookie campaign
While he still cannot seem to find a role in the Vikings offense (nobody really can), Cordarrelle Patterson continues to turn heads in the kick return game. Patterson got last night’s game off to a big start by returning the opening kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown.
Patterson is the only player in the league to have returned two kicks for scores this year and his efforts have pushed the Vikings to lead the league in a category! The Vikings (aka Cordarrelle Patterson) is currently tops in the league with a 33.2-yard average per kick return. The Vikings also lead the league in total kick return yards with 763.
The Vikings and the Broncos are the only teams in the league who have returned a kickoff and a punt for a score this season.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings updates and breaking Vikings news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN