Goals, Stats and Quotes for Bye Week

Vikings coach Brad Childress outlined his bye-week goals on Monday. We take a look at those goals, chronicling the troubles and stating where the Vikings ranked in those categories he tabbed for improvement.

Vikings coach Brad Childress will give his players time off from Wednesday through Monday during their bye this week, but the coaching staff will be working through Friday to right the wrongs that have led the team to a 1-3 start.

Childress outlined several areas he believes the team needs to improve upon coming out of the bye.

  • Getting rookie sensation Adrian Peterson more involved was not among the categories listed by Childress, although Peterson may fit into an unlikely objective that was first out of Childress's mouth.

    "Offensively I would put deep balls in that category (for improvement)," Childress said. "We were able to look at a couple of shots (Sunday), a couple that we wish we had back. One of those third downs right at the beginning of the (Green Bay) game, where we had Sidney Rice behind somebody and you just simply need to be able to throw and catch that."

    The Vikings count explosive plays in the passing game as receptions that go for more than 15 yards.

    Against the Atlanta Falcons in the season opener, Peterson caught only one pass, but it was the longest pass play of the season for the Vikings, a 60-yarder that started with a short outlet pass that he turned into a quick touchdown. Ironically, Bobby Wade's only reception during the season opener also fell into the "explosive" category with a 28-yard play. None of the Vikings' other 11 receptions went longer than 13 yards.

    In the second game of the season, it was the running backs that were again providing the only explosive plays in the passing game. Mewelde Moore turned one reception into a 20-yard gain and Peterson had a 24-yard reception.

    If three times is a trend, then the wide receivers proved the trend in their third game when Peterson had a 35-yard pass play and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe provided a 25-yarder. Wide receivers Sidney Rice and Wade each had 11-yard receptions as their longest pass plays in that loss to Detroit, too short of gains to be counted among the "explosives."

    The Vikings' loss to Green Bay appeared to be their most concerted effort to get the ball downfield in the passing game, with limited success. Rice had two catches that feel a yard of qualifying (they were both 15-yard receptions), but Troy Williamson had a 16-yard catch and Bobby Wade beat his coverage over the top for a 40-yard pickup and an additional 18 yards in the wide receivers' most productive game of the season.

  • Goal No. 2: "I think on both sides of the football, third-down conversion work is important because that gets you that other set of downs. So offensively and defensively I'm quite sure we can do a better job," Childress said.

    Through Sunday's action, the Vikings had converted 35.1 percent of their third downs, 12th in the NFC and had allowed opponents to convert 43.1 percent of their third downs, 15th in the conference. But of those will need to improve dramatically if the Vikings want to make a push for playoffs following their bye week.

  • Goal No. 3: "Offensively in our must-pass situations – two-minute drill let's say at the end of the game where there really is no doubt what is about to happen, I think we can be better in that," Childress said.

    That was never more apparent than two junctures during their third game at Kansas City. At the end of the first half, the Vikings had a 10-3 lead and took possession of the ball with 3:26 to play at their own 20-yard line. They picked up one first down to the 31-yard line before the two-minute warning, but Peterson provided the big play that put them in position to take a bigger lead. Facing second-and-9, Peterson took a short pass and turned it into a 35-yard gain. With 1:15 to play in the half, Moore took a 3-yard handoff up the middle, but the offense couldn't get organized fast enough and eventually called a timeout with 34 seconds to play, wasting more than 45 precious seconds. After an incompletion and two consecutive sacks, the Vikings were unable to increase their lead beyond seven points and eventually lost the game 13-10 without scoring a point in the second half.

    They had another chance to tie or win the game in the fourth quarter when they received the ball at the 20-yard line again with 1:39 to play, but this time they didn't have Peterson in the game and never got past their own 44-yard line.

  • Goal No. 4: "Our red zone efficiency," Childress said. "While we are 50 percent touchdown percentage, that puts you right in the middle of the league, which to me is average and that's about the worst thing you can be called is average."

    The Vikings have only gotten into the red zone six times this year, turning three of those into touchdowns with the other three resulting in field goals. Scoring a touchdown 50 percent of the time has them ranked seventh in the NFC and 17th in the league in that category.

    Defensively, the Vikings have allowed their opponents inside the red zone 10 times, giving up touchdowns on four of those opportunities to rank fifth in the conference and eighth in the league.

  • Goal No. 5: "Eliminating on defense those explosive pass plays as we term them. It's really no magic there — it's a combination of rush, coverage, technique, and then continuing to change up," Childress said. "We faced a pretty good quarterback yesterday and we need to continue to look at ways to pressure that quarterback. I think we had one sack but you weren't going to sack Brett Favre now. You just don't sack him very often. He is going to get the ball out of his hand."

    While the Vikings started the season being known as a defense that creates turnovers and scores with them, they ranked only 27th in the league in percentage of passes intercepted and 24th in sacks per pass play. After starting the season with six sacks in the first game and four in the second, they have managed just one sack in each of the last two games.

    They rank 29th in the league in pass defense – measured in yards given up – but sixth in the defensive statistic that coordinator Leslie Frazier cares about most – points allowed per game.

    While the players will have some time off later this week to rest their bodies, their coaches' minds will be working to correct their weakest links.


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