Vikings defense bottom five in few categories

The Vikings haven't found consistent success at quarterback, but the defensive statistics are worse than the passing numbers on offense.

For those stuck on blaming the Vikings' 2-7 record mostly on the quarterback play, the stats tell a different – perhaps more complete – story.

It's not that the passing numbers are good, but they just aren't as bad as the defensive numbers. That holds true in the simpler terms of comparing offense and defense in general.

The Vikings have just one of 11 offensive statistics tracked by the NFL in which they rank in the bottom of the league – total yards per game, where they rank 28th — 17th rushing and 25th passing. In points per game, they rank 13th.

Defense is a different story.

The Vikings rank 30th overall on defense – a measure of total yards per game – 17th against the run and 29th against the pass.

They rank in the bottom five in several other defensive categories.

In addition to being 30th in total yards, they are 29th in passing yards per game, 30th in first downs surrendered per game, dead last in third-down efficiency, 28th in fourth-down efficiency and 30th in points per game.

Injuries have been especially prevalent on defense, where Letroy Guion and Fred Evans have been missing on the defensive line and Chris Cook, Jamarca Sanford and Harrison Smith have missed multiple games in the secondary, but head coach Leslie Frazier is hoping an extra couple days of healing after a Thursday night game is part of the solution.

"With the time they had over the weekend, I think by having this one extra day it should help us. Hopefully it will," Frazier said. "We will able to watch some tape and talk a little bit about our upcoming opponent and introduce them to some of the things we want to go back through when we come back on Wednesday. So we're hoping that this extra day will be a plus for us."

Their special teams have top-notch when it comes to returning kicks but has struggled in defending them.

They have the league two leading return specialists in the NFL – Cordarrelle Patterson leads the NFL with 35.2 yards per kickoff return while Marcus Sherels leads the league with 16.3 yards per punt return. They are best in the league in punt return average and third in kickoff return average (Toby Gerhart, Sharrif Floyd, John Carlson, A.J. Jefferson and Joe Webb have all returned kicks when teams have kicked away from Patterson).

But the Vikings haven't been great in defending kickoffs and punts. They are 31st in kickoff return average and 24th in punt return average, and opponents haven't missed a field goal against them.

Not surprisingly, as a team, their differentials aren't good. They are 26th in points per game differential and 30th in net yards per game differential.

There have been a lot of reasons for the Vikings losing seven games already, but their struggles on defense and in defending kicks have added to the issues.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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