Mike Zimmer has said on multiple occasions that he wants the Vikings to stick with the running game longer than they have this season.
Related to that, there are two questions: Should the Vikings be running the ball more, and does an NFL team need to run to succeed on offense these days?
First take: Michael Rand
This one is complicated because the Vikings have had success under Zimmer running the ball. They had the second-most rushing attempts in the NFL last season while going 13-3.
This year, the Vikings have completed the most passes in the league and attempted the third-fewest rushes. That’s quite a flip, and I’m not just talking about the nickname given to the architect of that new offense, John DeFilippo.
But here’s the thing: The Vikings have not been a good running team this season, ranking No. 27 in yards per attempt. So while I think it would be nice to run more, I’m not sure it’s a great idea to keep pounding into a brick wall.
Columnist Chip Scoggins: This is a real dilemma for them because the answer seems obvious, but putting it into practice takes more than a magic wand.
Should they run more? Yeah, that would be ideal for many reasons. It would give them more balance, allow them to control the clock more and likely cut down on their high turnover rate because it would reduce Kirk Cousins’ pass attempts.
But can they run the ball more effectively? Maybe against bad defenses. But we’ve seen what happens when they try to run against stout fronts.
Being in third-and-long all game is not exactly desirable.
Rand: The Rams and Saints — the two best teams in the NFC and teams the Vikings will almost certainly have to play on the road in the playoffs if they have Super Bowl hopes still — are among the best running teams in the NFL in addition to being potent passing teams.
But both also have dominant offensive lines. The Vikings, to put it mildly, do not. Zimmer wants to run more. I’m a 42-year-old with a marginal vertical leap who would like to dunk a basketball. Sometimes it’s just not in the cards and you have to play to your strengths.
More than that, though, Zimmer’s thinking about the running game might be outdated. In the modern NFL, a good running game is more of a luxury than a necessity. The Chiefs and Rams combined for just 105 points on Monday night. Kansas City had 49 dropbacks and 20 running plays; the Rams had 54 dropbacks and 21 running plays.
Scoggins: OK, first of all, I can’t stop picturing you trying to dunk. But you also touched on a key point: Zimmer is the definition of old-school approach. Run the ball, control the clock, play good defense, win 9-7.
He joked this week that the score of that Rams-Chiefs game might run him out of football. I just don’t see him abandoning his core beliefs. But let’s not forget the Vikings will face some poor run defenses down the stretch so they should have more success.
Rand: They should, but if they don’t succeed running, they should be willing to abandon it instead of being stubborn.
Final word: Scoggins
I don’t disagree with your stance. But becoming mostly one-dimensional likely would expose them to more turnovers by Cousins, which already is a major issue.
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