The Minnesota Vikings offense has been stressing the importance of starting fast and putting points on the board early for the entire season. Just because they are saying they need to, though, doesn’t mean that is always happening.
The Vikings have scored just once on their opening drive of the game and that was Week 2 against the Detroit Lions. Other opening drives: They have missed a field goal, been intercepted in the red zone and not passed midfield on two separate occasions.
Those are not good ways to be starting games; especially since the Vikings have started with the ball in four out of the five games they have played this season.
“It’s very important,” quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said of starting fast. “You want to set the tempo of the game and we always talk about starting fast. We want to be a team that comes out and jumps right on you from the time the ball is kicked off. We know how important it is to get points on every drive, but to start the game especially. You can take the momentum early.”
As the season moves on, the Vikings know that they are going to need to put up points early in order to win games and it becomes even more important when playing on the road. Jumping out to a lead early on the road will often quiet down the hostile crowd, making it easier to communicate.
“Probably start fast would be a good one,” head coach Mike Zimmer said when asked what the team needs to do to win on the road. “I think we’ve started fast at home pretty good. I think if we will continue to start fast, I think that helps.”
A big part of being able to start fast is putting points on the board when they get inside the opponent’s 20-yard line or the so-called red zone. The Vikings have had success doing this in a couple games, but overall it is something they need to improve on if they hope to make a run at the playoffs.
The offense been to the red zone on 15 different occasions this season and has been able to score 13 times, but only seven of those were field goals, and they know they need to come out with a touchdown more than 47 percent of the time when they get inside the 20.
When asked if there was anything they could do in practice to work on red zone scoring, Bridgewater said no, they just have to finish drives.
“We just have to score,” he said. “It’s plain and simple. Just score touchdowns. We know 16 points won’t win many games in this league, so we just want to score every chance we get down there.”
Bridgewater was referring to a 16-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The Vikings’ next game is on the road against the Lions, who have allowed their opponents to reach the red zone 30 times so far this year, more than any other team in the NFL. That frequency should give the Vikings plenty of opportunities to get inside the 20, but the key from there is going from red zone to end zone, which they have struggled with so far this season.