The Vikings offense has been efficient in the first two games, but the lack of big-play ability has forced the team to string together long drives to get points. Although the Vikings have a better completion percentage than any other team in the NFL, they have had just two pass plays of more than 20 yards – one to tight end Kyle Rudolph and one to backup wide receiver Devin Aromashodu.
After Chicago rolled up a dozen big plays against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, the Vikings were expecting much of the same when they went to Lucas Oil Stadium last week. Michael Jenkins said that the Vikings aren't coming up with the game-changing pass plays they expected, but that the team has to stay the course and make the most out of what the defenses give them.
"You always expect to make big plays," Jenkins said. "Last week, they just didn't come to us. We've got move on to the next week and execute and the big plays will come."
The Vikings came on strong at the end, coming from two touchdowns down to tie the game with 31 seconds to play. While it didn't translate into a win, it was something to build from moving forward.
"We fought hard," Jenkins said. "Down by 14 at the end of the game to come back and tie it up like that just shows the type of team we have, the character. We just didn't make enough plays to get the win."
While the Vikings pass offense has been efficient, it has been low-octane. The team isn't picking up yards in big chunks, but the maturation of quarterback Christian Ponder is making strides every week. In 10 starts as a rookie, Ponder had just two games with a passer rating of better than 100.0. He set a new career best in Week 1 against Jacksonville with a passer rating of 105.5. The personal best stood for just seven days. Last Sunday against the Colts, Ponder posted a passer rating of 114.6.
While the offense has yet to hit on all cylinders, it's becoming obvious that the rapport between Ponder and his receivers is starting to click.
"There's a lot of confidence," Jenkins said. "He's making the throws that need to be made when his number is called and (the receivers) are going out and making plays for him as well. He's been big – no interceptions, being smart with the ball. We just have to continue to go forward."
Jenkins said the start to the season has been a head-scratcher, especially in terms of the start of games. In Week 1, the Vikings didn't get untracked offensively until the third quarter. Last week, they didn't get the offense rolling until six minutes remained in the game. What has caused the Vikings to struggle so much early in games? If they knew, Jenkins said, they would fix it, but it remains a mystery to them as well.
"I don't know," Jenkins said. "You go back to last year, we started out fast, but couldn't finish. This year we've started out slow and finish strong. You don't know what it is that leads to that, but the end result is trying to get a win."
Getting a win against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday won't be easy. While nobody considers either Jacksonville or Indianapolis as playoff-caliber teams, the Niners are the consensus pick to win the NFC West and are one of the favorites to be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl. They can get the job done on both sides of the ball and it won't be easy for the Vikings to get out of their big-play malaise against arguably the league's best defense.
"They're a solid defense all the way around," Jenkins said. "They run to the ball well, tackle well, makes plays. It's going to be a good challenge for us. They weren't No. 1 in the league last year for no reason. They've got a lot of their guys back and they're playing at a high level. It's going to be a good test for us."
While there are frustrations around the inability for the Vikings to take deep shots in the passing game, there have been a lot of good things that have come out of the first two games and the Vikings believe they are building the foundation on offense to become relevant in the NFC sooner than later. It may take time, but the players can see the progress that is being made – even if it isn't coming in big chunks of yardage and long touchdowns.
"It's all about being patient," Jenkins said. "We've done some good things and have made some progress. It's just a matter of sticking with the system. If we execute, the big plays will come eventually."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Jenkins confident big plays will come
Viking Update Top Stories
LockedownThe Minnesota Vikings have been doing a lot well in their 5-0 start to the season. While punter Jeff Locke doesn't get his name mentioned often among those game-changers, he is…
Viking Update4:35 PM
A 315-pound Peter Pan? For SirlesMinnesota Vikings offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles is quite certain him in his emergency Halloween costume of Peter Pan will make it out on social media. We look forward with…
Viking Update1:57 PM
Diggs appears on track to playThe Minnesota Vikings appear to be on track to get their leading receiver back for their Sunday matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Viking Update1:26 PM
VIDEO: Norv Turner on offensive successMinnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner talks about the success of Sam Bradford, the return of Taylor Heinicke and the variety of receivers on the team.
Viking Update11:25 AM
Edwards apologizes for ‘poor decision’Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator said his decision to drive above the legal blood-alcohol level was a “poor decision” and a “one-time deal.”
Viking Update10:24 AM