Vikings should have second-half advantage

While the Vikings are nearly even with their opponents in second-half scoring, the Jets have struggled to make up halftime deficits, being outscored soundly in the second half of games.

There was a reason the Vikings finished 5-10-1 last season. They didn’t close out games. The offense couldn’t convert critical third-down plays to preserve leads and an exhausted defense couldn’t protect leads when they had them.

It was vicious circle that played over and over and over again throughout the 2014 season. The Vikings gave up a league-worst 480 points. That’s 30 a game. You don’t win many when you allow that.

Much of the blame was placed on the coaching staff. They didn’t make the needed adjustments late in games to call the plays that would either extend an offensive drive or snuff out a drive on defense.

As the New York Jets come into TCF Bank Stadium Sunday, there is a coaching staff that could already begin the process of cleaning out desks and deleting emails. From Rex Ryan on down, it seems they’re dead men walking.

It’s not just that the Jets are 2-10 because their players are awful. They have more holes that a moth-eaten sweater, but when it comes to the culpability of coaches for a team’s poor performance there are two words that are typically associated with the failure – halftime adjustments.

Halftime is short in the NFL, but it is the one chance for the coaching staff to evaluate on the fly what has worked and what has failed and make the appropriate corrections. The good coaching staffs accomplish that. The sub-par coaching staffs don’t.

By that measure, there are few, if any, teams worse than the Jets.

The Jets have been outscored by 129 points this season through 12 games – the bad side of 10-plus. That alone is a red flag to double-digit losses. But it’s how they’ve been outscored that makes the difference.

In the first half of games, the Jets have been outscored 177-123. Using simple math, that works out to an average halftime deficit of 15-10. That’s not good, but it can be easily overcome.

Unless you’re the Jets.

At a time when it’s critical for a coaching staff to make the needed adjustments to turn the tide of momentum, the Jets have come up flat – as in face-plant flat.

In the third quarter of games, they have been outscored 68-32. In the fourth quarter, they’ve been outscored 74-35.

Once again using “are you smarter than a fifth-grader” math, the average second-half score of Jets games has been 12-6.

For a team that has been behind in games, averaging less than six points – 5.583 for sticklers – in the second half, the odds tell you that you can’t make up a five-point halftime deficit by scoring just six.

The Vikings, though they are 5-7, are nearly even in the second half and overtime of games. They have given up 114 points in the second half and overtime and scored 112.

Ryan and his staff have four games left to plead their case for staying. But if the Jets front office – the same front office that forced Geno Smith back into the lineup last week only to have Ryan eschew the passing game to his team’s peril as it turned out – needs justification for why the coaching staff will feel the cold blade Dec. 29, they need look no further than the second-half scoring disparity.

Therein lies the Jets 2014 season and why the coaching staff will be excised later this month.

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