From @harken34: Of course, why not run the ball more, but I feel like we only pass 3-5 yards down the field. Why not go deeper?
AK: John DeFilippo’s West Coast-oriented passing attack is based around those quicker throws to, in part, mitigate pass protection issues. While Cousins is putting up the numbers – 3,490 yards, 23 touchdowns to nine interceptions – he’s still the third-most pressured passer in the league (39.6 percent), according to Pro Football Focus. The pressure isn’t all on the offensive line. As I noted in the weekly film review, Cousins’ first sack in New England was on him for not getting the ball out to one of a few open underneath options. But the damage from pressure, whether sacks, fumbles or poor throws, is enough to cap the amount of deep shots they’re taking. Bombs have connected, which leaves you wondering what could be if they had adequate protection?
Cousins ranks fourth among all NFL quarterbacks in deep touchdown passes (11), however he’s just 19th in deep throws (10.4 percent), according to PFF.
From @Thor_H_Odinson: Does being poor in 3rd and short have any further statistical similarities with ’16? How do Cook’s numbers on 3rd and short compare to Murray’s?
AK: There’s a myth to debunk here on how often the Vikings run on 3rd-and-short. Got a few questions about why the Vikings did so on back-to-back plays during the late 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1 attempts in New England. While they’re among the league’s worst on 3rd-and-short plays (just 50 percent conversion with 1-2 yards to go, according to Pro Football Reference), they’ve actually only run on 8 of 28 such downs this season. It shows the lack of confidence in the offensive line, and rightfully so. They’re 3 of 8 running in those situations, compared to 11 of 18 throwing on 3rd-and-short. Latavius Murray has picked up just one first down on three attempts. Dalvin Cook’s first attempt was last Sunday, when he was tackled short of the marker.
Here’s a notable regression from 2017: the Vikings had 10 goal-line touchdown runs from 1-3 yards away last season, compared to just two touchdowns so far this season. That’s especially problematic considering the Vikings’ red-zone touchdown rate has plummeted from 10th last season to 23rd this year, per Football Outsiders.
From @SkolVikingsFan5: If Griffen keeps underwhelming, do you think we start to see more Weatherly who has arguably been better? What do you attribute Griffen’s ineffectiveness to?
AK: While defensive end Everson Griffen’s production hasn’t been the same since he returned from a five-game absence to address mental health concerns, the Vikings coaching staff hasn’t shown any signs that his playing time is at risk. Griffen, a team captain, again started and played (64 snaps) just as much as Danielle Hunter (65 snaps) in New England. With time, it’s possible Griffen can return to form, but the numbers are clear he hasn’t been the same pass rusher up to this point. His nine pressures (including 2.5 sacks) in the past five weeks are tied with Stephen Weatherly, whose had about half the opportunities. I can’t begin to imagine what mental struggles Griffen has gone through, and it’s clear that the more than month-long hiatus has carried an on-field effect.
From @jayrunquist: Twelve games in and it seems like Kirk and Flip haven’t found a rhythm. Come to think of it, when was the last time the Vikings had the same OC and QB for more than 2 years? Daunte/Linehan?
AK: Yeah, it’s not an exhaustive recent history. Here’s the list of Vikings quarterbacks to start (any amount of) games in three straight seasons under the same offensive coordinator since 1990:
2011-2013: Christian Ponder and Bill Musgrave
2002-2004: Daunte Culpepper and Scott Linehan
1996-1998: Brad Johnson and Brian Billick
1994-1996: Warren Moon and Brian Billick