The recipe for success in the NFL is hardly consistent; coaches will adjust starting lineups, offensive packages, and personnel groupings to fit their needs on a weekly basis. Like adding more pepper to spice up a dish, for example, changing a defense’s alignment can completely alter the way that unit performs on the field. And like any good chef, the league’s best coaches know what ingredients work exceptionally well together.
The beauty of football, then, is the fact that the combinations are different for all 32 franchises. In Carolina, the Panthers run the ball on 51.89 percent of their offensive plays. The Patriots, on other hand, run the ball less than nearly every other team in the league, at just 34.76 percent. Each team takes the field on Sunday with a different approach, but each is currently undefeated. They know exactly what works, what doesn’t, and how to maximize the talent on their roster.
For Mike Zimmer, Norv Turner, and the rest of the Minnesota Vikings, their own formula is becoming clear. On offense, Teddy Bridgewater is doing just enough to win games, while Adrian Peterson continues to carry the unit with powerful running in between the tackles. On the other side of the ball, an aggressive front-seven maintains its discipline in Zimmer’s scheme to suffocate opponents. Their recipe combines a run-first offensive attack with collective speed on defense — ingredients that work well together no matter when or where the Vikings play.
Against the Chicago Bears last week, Minnesota relied on their strengths to move to 5-2 and win their third straight game. With the victory, the Vikings are 3-0 in the division and on a crash course with the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title. The running game and consistency on defense are this team’s bread and butter, and man, does that combination taste delicious right now.