The Minnesota Vikings have been the most disciplined team in the NFL all season, committing just 48 penalties. A big reason for that that is because the offense is the least penalized offensive group in the league with 16 penalties through Week 10.
Being more disciplined than their opponents has been something that head coach Mike Zimmer has been preaching the entire year. He believes the team with the fewest penalties has the better chance of winning on Sundays.
“That’s just something coach Zimmer preaches everyday in meetings and practice,” offensive lineman Brandon Fusco said. “The team that has less penalties and is more disciplined has a better chance at winning.”
When quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was asked about the offense’s discipline during his press conference on Wednesday he also gave credit to his head coach, saying Zimmer was really tough on them when it came to committing penalties.
“We talk about trying to be the best offensively in every category and to be one of the least penalized teams, it just means that we’re playing some clean football,” Bridgewater said. “The guys are understanding what we’re asking of them.”
When an offense is working well as a unit, remaining disciplined and not committing many penalties, it allows them to do more things before the snap of the ball because they don’t have to worry about their guys jumping early.
One thing that has been working for them the last few weeks is Bridgewater’s hard count before the snap of the ball. The past two weeks the Vikings have faced two very aggressive defenses in the St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders and Bridgewater was able to utilize his hard count on several occasions to get defenders to jump offside and draw a penalty.
The second-year quarterback said that when they know the opposing defense is known for being aggressive they want to take advantage of that.
“It’s just about knowing your opponent,” he said. “If you have an aggressive unit you go into that game trying to get them to jump or like I said, get those free yards.”
But when the quarterback is using a hard count or mixing up the snap count he has to make sure he isn’t making his own offensive linemen jump early. If that is the case, instead of helping his team he is actually hurting them and moving them in the wrong direction.
But Fusco reiterated that the offense is a very disciplined unit and the same goes for the offensive line. They just have to make sure they are listening and paying attention to what Bridgewater is saying both in the huddle and on the line of scrimmage before he snaps the ball.
“I think using the snap count against the defense keeps them honest from jumping the snap count, so that’s something we have to mix in,” Fusco said. “It’s been helping us a lot.
“That’s a big part of the play, having the advantage of the snap count and using it to your advantage. So it’s something we’ve been doing.”
This weekend, the Vikings take on their division rivals in the Green Bay Packers, whose defense is led by Dom Capers. Capers runs a 3-4 defense and is known across the NFL as being an aggressive play caller, so you can be sure that Bridgewater and the rest of the offense are going to look to take advantage of that and continue to use the snap count to their advantage.