Two weeks ago, whispers of the Minnesota Vikings making it to the Super Bowl this season were beginning to get a little louder. Well, those whispers have just about completely vanished as the Vikings are coming off two straight losses, including an embarrassing loss to the 2-6 Chicago Bears last week.
But with offensive coordinator Norv Turner “resigning” earlier this week and Pat Shurmur now taking the reigns as team’s offensive play caller, is it possible that Minnesota could get back on the track to a Super Bowl?
Time will tell, but the move shows how committed the franchise is to achieving the highest of goals this year and is not going to let anything get in its way. But in order for the Vikings to end their recent slump, they must come out with a victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Focusing on a few specific areas may help Minnesota from suffering that dreaded third straight loss this weekend.
DO – Keep Chad Greenway off of the field
Many of the offensive packages the Bears used last week forced the Vikings to keep their base defense on the field more than normal. Meaning more time on the field for veteran Minnesota linebacker Chad Greenway.
It is no coincidence that the games in which the Vikings have allowed the most points to their opponents (Tennessee, Philadelphia, Chicago) this year are also the games in which Greenway has spent the most time on the field.
He clearly is not even close to the linebacker he once was for Minnesota and his play is hurting the Vikings defense in 2016. The Vikings should either consider using the more athletic Emmanuel Lamur instead of Greenway or do their best to stay out of their base defense as much as possible.
With the Lions running an offense mostly based around the passing game, Greenway’s snaps are likely to resemble the amount he had against New York and Houston this season.
DON’T – Be afraid to get creative on offense
With the way Minnesota has been struggling to produce on offense this year, there really seems no reason to not have a few trick plays in each game plan moving forward. What do they really have to lose?
When is the last time a Vikings receiver or running back faked a run and actually threw a pass downfield or the offense ran a flea flicker? This team has become so predictable on the offensive side of the ball in recent years that it is no surprise they have constantly ranked among the league’s worst.
But with Shurmur now in control, perhaps Minnesota can actually have an offense worth watching once again?
DO – Get the ball in Kyle Rudolph’s hands a lot (a lot, a lot)
After scoring three touchdowns in his first four games this season, the Vikings tight end has not celebrated a score in the end zone during the team’s last three matchups.
However, he gets a great matchup against a Lions defense that has struggled to cover tight ends in 2016. The position group has averaged over 60 yards and one touchdown per game versus Detroit this season.
Rudolph is already leading Minnesota in targets this year and there is no reason for that to change on Sunday.
DON’T – Get overly aggressive on defense
Through the first five weeks of the season, the Vikings were averaging almost four sacks per game. But in the last two weeks, Minnesota has only managed to bring down the opposing quarterback one time.
The Lions’ blockers have given up four sacks to their opponents in their last two games but there is no reason for the Vikings defense to get greedy this weekend and bring an unnecessary blitz.
In other games it may be a good idea for Minnesota to beef up their amount of blitzes, but Detroit has the ability on offense to make the Vikings pay. With the Lions having three talented wide receivers (Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin, Golden Tate), one mistake by Minnesota’s defense and they could be looking at the back of a Detroit jersey running toward the end zone.