The Minnesota Vikings have struggled to run the ball all season, but, as they play the Washington Redskins today, the Vikings come up against one of the worst run defenses in the league.
In 2014, when Adrian Peterson was on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, the Vikings were cobbling together a running game that consisted of Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon – two players who had rarely seen the field prior to Peterson being forced off of it.
There is much the same feeling this season, as McKinnon and Asiata are being asked to shoulder the ground game once again. Asiata understands more than most how important Peterson was to the Vikings offense, but also sees this as an opportunity for him and McKinnon to make their mark as featured performers in the Vikings offense.
“We all have a role to play on the team and I’m doing what I can to help our team win,” Asiata said. “I think everyone knows how important Adrian has been to our offense. You don’t just replace a Hall of Famer, but we’re doing what we can to make sure we remain a balanced offense and get our job done.”
Just because the two backup running backs aren’t viewed by defenses as on par with the kind of rushing days Peterson could put together against them, Asiata said that each of the 53 players on the roster spends each week preparing to be a focal point of the game-day lineup.
It doesn’t always happen that way, but there is talent on the sidelines even though they don’t always get the chance to showcase their talents.
“Everybody on this team prepares himself to be in the lineup,” Asiata said. “Having that experience from two years ago helps because we know we can get the job done. But we all have to step up – offense, defense, special teams, all of us. We have a team that can do some great things this year. Guys get injured every year and the next man has to step in and do his part.”
Asiata is looking to replicate one of the greatest games of his career from the last time the Vikings and Redskins met. He finished with three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter – one that gave the Vikings a 21-20 lead and a second that sealed the win with 3:27 to play in a 29-26 victory.
He wouldn’t mind seeing history repeat itself today.
“That was a good day,” Asiata said with a smile. “Hopefully, we can move the offense the same way we did and, if they need me to finish off drives in close, I’ll do my best to get it done.”
VIKINGS-REDSKINS BY THE NUMBERS
- The Vikings have the 32nd-ranked offense (31st rushing, 27th passing) and the third-ranked defense (8th rushing, 4th passing). The Redskins have the fourth-ranked offense (14th rushing, 3rd passing) and the 22nd-ranked defense (26th rushing, 15th passing).
- Minnesota is averaging 299 yards of offense per game (226 passing, 73 rushing). Washington is averaging 410 yards a game (299 passing, 111 rushing).
- The Vikings are allowing 299 yards a game on defense (206 passing, 93 rushing). The Redskins are allowing 370 yards a game (246 passing, 124 rushing).
- The Vikings are second in takeaway/giveaway ratio at plus-12 (17 takeaways, 5 giveaways). The Redskins are tied for 16 at even (11 takeaways, 11 giveaways).
- No team has fewer giveaways than Minnesota. The Vikings and the Buffalo Bills have both had just five giveaways.
- Both offenses have been pretty horrible in the red zone. The Vikings are 29th, scoring touchdowns on 10 of 23 possessions (43.5 percent). Washington is 30th at 40.6 percent (13 of 32).
- No team has come up completely empty in the red zone more than the Vikings. Of their 23 possessions, they have come away without any points six times – a whopping 26.1 percent.
- Minnesota is 16th in third-down offense, making good on 45 of 116 third-down opportunities (38.8 percent). Washington is sixth at 44.7 percent (46 of 103). The league average is 39.0 percent.
- Defensively, the Vikings are 12th on third down, allowing conversions on 41 of 107 attempts (38.3 percent). Washington is 29th at 45.9 percent (45 of 98).
- The league average gain on first down is 5.53 yards. Minnesota is first on defense, allowing 4.33 yards on first down, and last on offense, averaging 4.29 yards.
- The Vikings are third in the league in average starting position following kickoffs at the 26.3-yard line. Defensively, the Redskins are 31st, allowing an average opponent starting point of 27.4-yard line. The league average starting position is the 24.7-yard line – making touchbacks on average more attractive than returning kicks.
- Kirk Cousins has thrown for more than 300 yards four times this season. Minnesota hasn’t had a 300-yard passing game this season.
- Washington has allowed two 300-yard passers. Minnesota hasn’t allowed any.
- Both teams have had three 100-yard receiving games. Washington has had two from Jamison Crowder (in the last two games) and one from DeSean Jackson. Minnesota has had two from Stefon Diggs and one from Adam Thielen.
- The Redskins have allowed five 100-yard receiving games this year. The Vikings haven’t allowed any.
- Both of the Washington’s 100-yard rushing games have come from Matt Jones, who may end up being a healthy scratch today. The Vikings haven’t had any 100-yard rushing games.
- Washington has allowed two 100-yard rushers. Minnesota has allowed one.
- Sam Bradford is 25th in pass attempts (243), 22nd in completions (166), fourth in completion percentage (68.3), 27th in pass yards (1,715), tied for 19th in touchdown passes (9), tied for third in interceptions (1) and seventh in passer rating (99.0).
- Cousins is seventh in pass attempts (321), fifth in completions (215), ninth in completion percentage (67.0), sixth in yards (2,454), tied for 12th in touchdown passes (12), tied for 20th in interceptions (7) and 18th in passer rating (93.1).
- Bradford is second in fourth-quarter passer rating at 115.0. Cousins is 20th at 88.5.
- Bradford is fifth in third-down passer rating at 97.9. Cousins is 19th at 82.3.
- Jones leads the Redskins with 460 rushing yards, which ranks him 17th in the league. Asiata is 45th with 227 yards and McKinnon 46th with 225 yards.
- Diggs is 12th in the league in receptions with 48. Jordan Reed leads Washington with 42 receptions, which ties him for 21st. Crowder is tied for 26th with 40 receptions. Pierre Garcon is tied for 46th with 36 receptions.
- Diggs is 24th in receiving yards with 546. Crowder leads the Redskins with 498 yards, which ranks him 33rd. Thielen is 44th with 432 yards.
- Crowder leads the Redskins in scoring among non-kickers with 30 points (five touchdowns), which ties him for 22nd place. Kyle Rudolph leads the Vikings with 24 points (four touchdowns), which ties him for 39th place.
- Washington’s Dustin Hopkins is sixth in the league in scoring among kickers with 72 points. Blair Walsh is tied for 24th with 49 points.
- Diggs is 46th in the league in yards from scrimmage with 556 (546 receiving, 10 rushing). Washington doesn’t have a player in the top 50 in the league.
- Redskins punter Tress Way is 25th in punting average at 44.2 yards. Jeff Locke is 29th with a 43.2-yard average.
- Locke is 20th in net punting average at 39.7 yards. Way is 31st at 37.2 yards.
- Crowder leads the NFL in punt return average at 19.2 yards. Marcus Sherels, who won’t play today, is fourth with a 13.7-yard average.
- There have been five punt return touchdowns this season in the entire NFL. Sherels has two of them and Crowder has one of the other three.
- Cordarrelle Patterson is second in the league in kickoff return average at 27.7 yards. No Washington player has enough returns to qualify for the league lead.
- Three Vikings are tied for 10th in the league with two interceptions – Xavier Rhodes, Andrew Sendejo and Trae Waynes. No Washington player has more than one interception.
- Ryan Kerrigan is tied for sixth in the league with seven sacks. Everson Griffen is tied for 12th with six sacks, followed by Danielle Hunter and Brian Robison with four each, which ties them for 30th place.
- Sendejo remains tied for the league lead in defensive fumble recoveries with two.