Vikings defense statistically terrible at stopping third-down tries

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 29, 2013 - 7:28 AM

The Vikings’ third-down defense has been a failure more than half of the time.

Flip of a coin. That’s the Vikings’ success rate on third-down defense.

Actually, they’re slightly worse than that after Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers carved them up Sunday night. Opponents are converting 51 percent of their third-down opportunities against the Vikings, which is easily the worst mark in the NFL.

For context, the Vikings are on pace to become the first team since the 1995 Cleveland Browns to allow 50 percent conversions on third down.

“We’re so bad right now on third down on defense,” coach Leslie Frazier said in a moment of brutal honesty Monday.

Myriad deficiencies have contributed to the Vikings’ 1-6 record, and the defense’s inability to get off the field at a reasonable rate on third down belongs prominently on that list.

The Vikings rank last in the NFL in time of possession, a bad sign for a team that’s built around a ball-control offense. Their defensive issues are partly to blame.

A season-long sore spot became a full-blown nightmare in a 44-31 loss to the Packers. Green Bay converted 13 of 18 third-down chances, scored on eight consecutive possessions and did not punt once all game.

The Vikings struggles on third down enabled the Packers to consume 40 minutes, 54 seconds in time of possession. The Vikings ran only three offensive plays in the third quarter.

“We were out there for a long time,” cornerback Chris Cook said.

Rodgers was particularly masterful on third down, converting 10 of 10 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed three times for 29 yards on third down, all resulting in first downs.

“It’s not pretty and unfortunately it has been the flavor of the month for us,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “We haven’t been good at all on third down across the board.”

Now, the scary part: it could actually get worse. The Vikings still must play seven of the top 11 highest-scoring teams in the NFL in their final nine games, starting with the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday in Arlington, Texas.

The Vikings could be without three of their four starters in the secondary, too. Safety Harrison Smith already is on injured reserve, and Cook (hip muscle strain) and safety Jamarca Sanford (groin strain) were injured Sunday.

Frazier said the coaching staff will spend the next few days evaluating every facet of their third-down approach to determine if there’s anything that can be done to fix that area. However, he admitted that “I don’t know what you can do personnel-wise” this late in the season.

“You’ve got to look at how we’re doing it, what we’re doing schematically, and also the people that you’re asking to do certain things,” he said. “Any time a team gets 72 percent conversion rate, that’s time to really do some re-evaluation.”

Frazier and several players credited Rodgers’ brilliance in dissecting their breakdowns. In particular, cornerback Josh Robinson and Green-way had tight coverage on Green Bay’s first two scores, but Rodgers managed to thread passes to Jordy Nelson for 11-yard and 76-yard touchdowns.

“You go back and look at film and guys were in perfect position, but Aaron Rodgers finds a way to get the ball to [his receivers],” Sanford said. “The passes he throws, there’s no way you can really defend it when it comes down to it. The throws he was making, most quarterbacks would look that way and would be like, ‘Oh, that guy is covered.’ But he finds a way to get the ball in there.”

Frazier made that point to Robinson, who has struggled all season in coverage.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
New Orleans 99
Minnesota 84 FINAL
Oklahoma City 92
Orlando 94 FINAL
Memphis 103
Boston 99 FINAL
Utah 90
Denver 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 45 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 42
Coppin State 84 FINAL
NC A&T 71
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Campbell 78
MD-Eastern Shore 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Stephen F Austin 82 FINAL
Lamar 65
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
New Orleans 87
Norfolk State 70 FINAL
Savannah State 54
TX A&M-CC 70 FINAL
SE Louisiana 61
Sam Houston St 80 FINAL
Abilene Christian 63
McNeese State 84 FINAL
Incarnate Word 86
Milwaukee 48 FINAL
Valparaiso 73
Alcorn State 66 FINAL
Alabama A&M 78
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alabama State 63
Prairie View 68 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 105
Texas 86 FINAL
Iowa State 89
Texas Southern 85 FINAL
Miss Valley St 84
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 59 FINAL
Auburn 48
(15) Nebraska 72 FINAL
(20) Iowa 78
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close