Last year, nearly one out of every six passes that Marcus Robinson caught was for a touchdown. This year, Robinson has two touchdowns among his nine receptions, but against the Detroit Lions, Robinson was noticeably absent from the field on many of the Vikings' offensive plays in the red zone.
Entering the Detroit game, Robinson was the only player to catch a touchdown pass from Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson, so his ability inside an opponents' red zone would seem to be something the Vikings could use considering their bottom-feeding NFL ranking in red zone efficiency.
"I do consider it my strength," Robinson said of the red zone, "but this is a different offense and we go about things totally different now. They have a good game plan for the red zone. It's not always about putting the ball in the end zone every time. You'll get some here and get some there, a guy breaking tackles and getting in. In the Redskins game, we took a lot of shots."
Against Detroit, however, Vikings head coach Brad Childress said the defense just simply wasn't allowing Minnesota to use Robinson.
"Marcus Robinson, it's hard to throw a ball up to a big body when people do play two-deep on you down there, which is what we got every snap down there (against the Lions)," Childress said. "We don't put round pegs in a square hole. The worst thing we can do down there is take the football and throw it into a Cover-2 and throw a pick. Then we would probably be asking, ‘How come you threw it to Marcus Robinson when he was double-covered?' You see a double zone, you don't throw it up there. That would be the biggest reason probably."
One of the issues, however, is that Robinson wasn't in the game for many of the team's red zone snaps.
"We knew they were playing a soft Cover-2, where they weren't giving us the vertical passing game," Robinson said. "They were giving us stuff underneath, so that's what we were trying to take advantage of."
Travis Taylor, who was the first receiver other than Robinson to catch a Johnson touchdown toss, said taking shots into the end zone isn't the key to scoring touchdowns.
"It doesn't matter … We've got to make guys miss, break some tackles," Taylor said of throwing the ball short of the goal line.
In fact, the Lions may have been tweaking their defense to account for the fact that they entered the game with the 30th-ranked team defending the pass. Meanwhile, the Vikings scorched Detroit's rush defense, which was ranked 10th, for 135 yards on 30 carries.
"That's why every Sunday, you never know what you're going to get," Robinson said. "I think it's a balance. Sometimes the running game isn't doing well and the passing game is. Some defenses, they don't take one unless you beat them with the other. At some point in time we're going to get this thing together and working right."
While the Vikings came away with 336 yards of total offense, the offense only scored one touchdown and two field goals. Yet Childress isn't too concerned with the red zone offense.
"It doesn't concern me more than anything else. I know that you guys (in the media) lose a lot of sleep over it. I've got tons of things that I lose sleep over," he said. "The numbers are what they are, and we'll continue to work on it. I'm as concerned about anything that we step backwards in terms of penalties down there. I think we have the wherewithal to be able to get ourselves down there. We need to be able to finish."
Robinson might be able to help create those touchdowns, but he knows the team hasn't been getting it done to this point.
"We stunk it up," he said when asked about the offensive progress. "We've got to get seven points. That's the bottom line."
Marcus Hasn't Been ‘Red Zone Robinson'
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