“I think that we’ve got to find a way to create more explosive plays, whether that’s mixing in some more of our play-action game, which we’ve kind of got away from,” Bradford reiterated Sunday after saying essentially the same thing following Thursday’s loss to the Detroit Lions. “Trying to create some of those plays with the deeper route concepts, that’s one way. But, however we do it, we’ve just got to figure out a way to make sure that it happens.”
The Vikings have only generated three rushing plays of more than 15 yards and only 30 pass plays that went longer than 20 yards – and those included passes where the target is at or near the line of scrimmage and the ball carrier made defenders miss.
With the worst rushing average in the NFL, it might be hard for teams to respect the Vikings’ play-action.
“Yeah, maybe a little bit. That they’re not,” head coach Mike Zimmer said of opposing defenses respecting the play-action. “We ran the ball better this last week but, obviously, it helps if you can run the football. At some point by stopping the run and running the ball you get to control the game. We haven’t done that recently.”
Yet, that was one of things that Bradford believes could help enable the Vikings to drive the ball downfield more. Against the Dallas Cowboys, that might not be quite as much of a risk.
While the Vikings are second in the NFL creating 12 interceptions, the Cowboys have only four on the season, the third-lowest total in the league.
However, Bradford said that doesn’t necessarily mean the opportunities will be there on Thursday. But at least he saw some of it happening with other offenses going against the Cowboys.
“I think every team presents the opportunities to get downfield. If you look at Washington and what they were able to do last week, they hit them for quite a few big plays,” he said. “I think it’s just a matter of getting the right plays dialed up at the right time against the right coverage.”
Despite the Vikings not threatening the Lions deep except one time last Thursday, Bradford said that didn’t change the type of coverage the Lions primarily played.
“You look at that game against them and it was primarily two safeties, two shell, really first, second and third downs,” he said. “They kept two back there most of the game. I don’t think it really affected them bringing anyone closer to the line.”
Perhaps that’s because of a Vikings running game that defenses don’t have to load up against. Perhaps it’s because they have faith in their cornerbacks to take on the Vikings’ receivers. Or maybe it’s a belief that only an explosive play by the Vikings offense can really hurt a defense.
Whatever the reason, the Vikings haven’t been able to generate a deep passing game with much consistency and Bradford would like to see that change.