Sometimes the threat of run from a quarterback can change the way a team's defense prepares and makes adjustments during a game. The Vikings' willingness to call draw plays for Daunte Culpepper was the focus of this week's Upon Further Review and could have a big impact on how the Panthers prepare to shut down the Vikings offense this Sunday.
Culpepper ran a quarterback draw on four occasions Sunday, each of which was followed by another big play – either immediately or shortly thereafter. With opposing teams aware that Culpepper has been playing with a knee injury and seeing him looking more like a statue than a dangerous rusher on film of games with the Bears, Falcons and Bengals, there was reason to believe Culpepper would be more of a pocket passer vs. the Packers. When that happened, the Vikings made the change on the fly and took the Packers by surprise defensively.
Here's the breakdown after further review:
In the Vikings' first drive of the game, Culpepper runs a quarterback draw and gains four to the left side. On the next play, Culpepper starts to roll right and hands the ball on a draw to Mewelde Moore in the exact same hole Culpepper had run through the previous play. With the linebackers reacting to Culpepper's movement, Moore breaks off a 15-yard run.
Trailing 17-3 and with a second-and-10 from his own 26, Culpepper scrambles for 18 yards. With the safeties forced to pack in to prevent another such gain and the linebackers keeping an eye in the backfield, on the next play he completes a 16-yard pass to TE Jermaine Wiggins, who found a spot uncovered between the ‘backers and safeties. With the interior defenders now forced to cover their zones, Culpepper hit Troy Williamson in single coverage for 13 yards and Marcus Robinson for a 27-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 17-10.
With a second-and-7 from his 35, Culpepper stumbles for 1 yard on a play that nearly was broken for a big gainer. The Packers packed in their linebackers to prevent Culpepper from running on the next play and he completed a 19-yard pass to a wide open Travis Taylor. That play would get the Vikings into Packers territory and lead to a Paul Edinger field goal to cut the deficit to 17-13.
On the Vikings' next drive from the Packers 39, Culpepper again calls his own number and takes a draw 15 yards to the 24. From there on, he rolls out to sell the possibility of a scramble and spreads out the field, leading to a cross-back pass to Mewelde Moore that was wide open for the 14-yard touchdown that would give the Vikes a 20-17 lead.
When Culpepper has struggled this year has been when he is forced to stay in the pocket. To counteract that, the Vikings called specific plays – designed QB runs – to allow Culpepper to show the Packers defense that his legs are a weapon. Upon Further Review, that revelation and the subsequent adjustments it caused the Packers to make played a contributing factor in the Vikings' comeback win.
Upon Further Review
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