Random Vikings Stats Overload!

When it comes to football analysis, I’d say there are three major camps. Some believe you can tell most of the story with stats alone. Another feels stats are meaningless, it’s about what your eyes tell you – it’s about watching the game. The final, and the one I believe I’m a member of, believes the truth falls somewhere inbetween.

I’m not an analytics fanatic and am not a football purist who believes there is no place in the game for data and fancy formulas. I see the value of both and think each is critical to form a well rounded opinion (or hot take!).

But there will be no tape discussion here today. There won’t be any screen grabs or animated gifs of interesting plays. What we are about to have here is a complete data dump.

While other people are on Facebook or Youtube, sometimes I randomly find myself on a site like Pro Football Reference using their play index and looking for interesting nuggets. Like who’s the best quarterback in the league in the 4th quarter on 3rd down with more than 15 yards to go? (Andrew Luck) Or which running back in the league has the most 20+ yard runs in away games? (Doug Martin)

See, isn’t that fun?

So because I get so much enjoyment out of digging for stats, I thought It’d be fun to find a bunch of, what I thought were, interesting nuggets and leave them here. I’m going to do my best to omit any sort of analysis or opinion and instead will leave that to you all in the comments.

However, I will point out some things along the way or further explain what exactly it is we’re looking at.

Bridgewater In December

There’s been a lot of talk about Bridgewater’s performance in the month of December. I wanted to take a closer look at how he stacked up against his peers during the final full month of the regular season. To do this, I searched for quarterback stats from weeks 14-17 in the years 2014 and 2015 (the years Bridgewater has been in the league). Note that these stats do not include week 17 of the 2015 season… Week 17 has obviously not occurred yet. Here’s what I found:

Top 10 quarterbacks sorted by passer rating with over 50 attempts in the years 2014-2015 between weeks 14-17.
  1. Tony Romo / 132.6 Rating (112 Att)
  2. Kirk Cousins / 126.8 Rating (105 Att)
  3. Teddy Bridgewater / 111.0 Rating (200 Att)
  4. Carson Palmer / 108.9 Rating (94 Att)
  5. Russell Wilson / 107.0 Rating (220 Att)
  6. Geno Smith / 105.3 Rating (109 Att)
  7. Cam Newton / 104.4 Rating (176 Att)
  8. Eli Manning / 101.4 Rating (267 Att)
  9. Matthew Stafford / 99.8 Rating (250 Att)
  10. Ryan Fitzpatrick / 98.5 Rating (141 Att)
Top 10 quarterbacks sorted by touchdowns in the years 2014-2015 between weeks 14-17. 
  1. Eli Manning (17)
  2. Russell Wilson (15)
  3. Drew Brees (14)
    Matthew Stafford (14)
  4. Teddy Bridgewater (13)
    Cam Newton (13)
  5. Derek Carr (12)
    Tony Romo (12)
  6. Philip Rivers (10)
    Aaron Rodgers (10)
Top 10 quarterbacks sorted by passing yards in the years 2014-2015 between weeks 14-17. 
  1. Drew Brees (2,262)
  2. Eli Manning (2,146)
  3. Ben Roethlisberger (2,139)
  4. Matt Ryan (2,043)
  5. Ryan Tannehill (2,009)
  6. Philip Rivers (1,919)
  7. Russell Wilson (1,839)
  8. Teddy Bridgewater (1,826)
  9. Matthew Stafford (1,724)
  10. Aaron Rodgers (1,629)
Top 10 quarterbacks sorted by completion percentage with at least 50 attempts in the years 2014-2015 between weeks 14-17.
  1. Tony Romo, 74.1% (112 Att)
  2. Kirk Cousins, 73.3% (105 Att)
  3. Teddy Bridgewater, 71.5% (200 Att)
  4. Ben Roethlisberger, 70.9% (265 Att)
  5. Alex Smith, 68.5% (184 Att)
  6. Andy Dalton, 67.8% (121 Att)
  7. Drew Brees, 67.4% (298 Att)
    Robert Griffin, 67.4% (95 Att)
  8. Matt Ryan, 67.2% (262 Att)
  9. Carson Palmer, 67.0% (94 Att)
Top 10 quarterbacks sorted by yards gained per attempt with at least 50 attempts in the years 2014-2015 between weeks 14-17.
  1. Kirk Cousins, 9.4 Y/A (105 Att)
  2. Geno Smith, 9.2 Y/A (109 Att)
  3. Teddy Bridgewater, 9.1 Y/A (200 Att)
  4. Carson Palmer, 9.0 Y/A (94 Att)
  5. Tony Romo, 8.8 Y/A (112 Att)
  6. Robert Griffin, 8.7 Y/A (95 Att)
  7. Russell Wilson, 8.4 Y/A (220 Att)
    Tyrod Taylor, 8.4 Y/A (81 Att)
  8. Peyton Manning, 8.2 Y/A (121 Att)
  9. Ben Roethlisberger, 8.1 Y/A (265 Att)

Vikings Defense Against Opponents’ #1 Receiver

Naturally, I reached out to some of the staff here at VT to see if there was anything in particular they were interested in. One of our team members was curious to see how the Vikings defense performed against opponents’ number one wide receivers.

To determine who the opponents’ top receiver was, I looked at the 2015 receiving stats for each opposing team and chose whoever was on the top.

Here are the numbers:

Season Totals
Vikings Defense Against Opponents #1 Receivers - Season Totals
Season totals for the #1 receivers the Vikings defense faced in the 2015 regular season.
Against Minnesota
Vikings Defense Against Opponents #1 Receivers - Against Minnesota
Minnesota Vikings defense against opponents #1 wide receiver.

A couple of things to note here. First, the “Comp % Diff” column shows you the difference between their completion percentage for the entire season and their completion percentage against the Vikings. If it’s a negative number, that is not good and means that their completion percentage was higher against Minnesota’s defense.

The “% Yards Against MIN” column tells us the percentage of their total yards for the 2015 season that were gained against the Vikings. Because division opponents are played twice, I split the percentage for Calvin Johnson and Alshon Jeffery.

The Total value for “% Yards Against MIN” represents the percentage of receiving yards for all receivers for the entire 2015 season that came against the Vikings. (8.28%)

Teddy’s Third Down Targets

Lindsey Young recently published an article to about the connection between Jarius Wright and Stefon Diggs on third down. This prompted me to take a look at all the Vikings receivers performance on third down.

Vikings Receivers on 3rd Down 2015
2015 receiving stats for Vikings receivers on third down.

First Down Running

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m frequently complaining during games about the lack of creativity on first down. More specifically, I’m usually ranting about how the Vikings endlessly run the ball right up the gut every single time. I wanted to take a look at how often the Vikings run on first down compared to the rest of the league.

1st Down Play Type For Entire League 2015
Overall play selection and 2015 play selection for the entire league in the 2015 season.

The Averages row at the bottom of this table will give you an idea of how the Vikings tendency to run on first down compares to the league average.

Feast Or Famine?

It’s widely believed that one of the reasons Peterson is so effective is because he’s able to wear opposing defenses down with his physical running style. More often than not, we’ll see Peterson bottled up at the line for minimum gains and then, in the third or fourth quarter, break a long one off.

I wanted to see how often the Vikings had runs for very minimum gains and how they compared to the rest of the league. Furthermore, I wanted to see how often they had big gains and how that compared to the league average.

(Note: This table is rather large so you’ll need to click to enlarge.)

Rushing Plays for Short or Long Gains
Number of rushing plays (and percentage of plays) for small are large gains for the entire NFL during the 2015 season.

Taking this a step further, I wanted to pull the same exact information but limit it to first down run plays. I was curious whether or not the Vikings tendency to run on first down could be resulting in a larger number of plays (versus the league average) for small or even negative gains.

Rushing Plays for Short or Long Gains on 1st Down
Number of rushing plays (and percentage of plays) on first down for small are large gains for the entire NFL during the 2015 season.

Inherent Personnel Conflict?

Something we’ve discussed at multiple points throughout the season is Peterson’s perceived inability to run from anything other than under center. I wanted to see how Peterson’s totals this season for being under center versus in the shotgun compared to his career.

Adrian Peterson | Rushing – Shotgun vs. Under Center
Peterson Rushing Shotgun vs Under Center 2015
Adrian Peterson shotgun and under center rushing splits for his entire NFL career.

How does this contrast with Jerick McKinnon? Is McKinnon noticeably better out of the shotgun than Peterson?

Jerick McKinnon | Rushing – Shotgun vs. Under Center
McKinnon Rushing Shotgun vs Under Center 2015
Jerick McKinnon shotgun and under center rushing splits for his entire NFL career.

Finally, what about Teddy Bridgewater? How much of a conflict is there between what he excels at and what Peterson has been good at throughout his career?

Teddy Bridgewater | Passing – Shotgun vs. Under Center
Bridgewater Passing Shotgun vs Under Center 2015
Teddy Bridgewater shotgun and under center passing splits for his entire NFL career.

Directional Rushing Preference

We’ll end with a pretty straightforward one looking at what direction the Vikings running backs have had the most success running in; to the left, to the right, or up the middle.

2015 Running Back Statistics by Rushing Direction
2015 rushing statistics for Vikings running backs split by rushing direction.



A lot to digest, I know. But I’m very interested in hearing some analysis and conclusions that can be drawn from the above statistics. I have some thoughts of my own and would love to share some of them in the comments here through discussion.


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Brett Anderson

Brett Anderson (Founder) is a passionate Viking fan hailing from Sin City, Las Vegas. He can remember, as a child, scraping his knee on the playground and his friends being completely shocked by the purple blood trickling from the wound. When Brett isn't scouring the Internet for some semblance of Vikings news, he enjoys blindly putting money on them to beat whoever their opponent may be, and daydreams about being their next Tight End. Brett graduated from UNLV with a degree in Architecture and specializes in web/graphic design; he hopes to provide this site’s visitors with the best Vikings experience on the net.

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4 years ago

“Stats are for losers to justify their losses”
Bud Grant

……. besides, I only saw one stat for Zach Line

And I ain’t indirectly callin’ you a loser, Brett. Losers don’t have nice haircuts like you do.

4 years ago

Interesting McKinnon runs up the middle such a high percentage of the time and still has as high of a rushing avaerage as he does.

Reply to  Brett Anderson
4 years ago

My guess is that it’s slightly skewed by the long run he had against the Giants Due to his limited number of touches. Take that one away and it looks a bit more comparable to the others.

4 years ago

Nice article…not to be a jerk, but I do think something went awry in the Peterson from shotgun stat. Total says he has 429 attempts when the data says he has less than 100. Would significantly alter the average in a positive way. On that note, interesting to see that it really isolates this year as the only year he has completely sucked at running from shotgun (hold his rookie year).

4 years ago

I appreciate what you’re trying to do but you really need a stats class. Your numbers sometimes border on nonsensical.

For instance, on comparing receivers’ yards your average yards by receiver is the total yards divided by the number of receivers. It should be total yards divided by games played. Further, the numbers to compare are their performance in non-Viking games (not all games) vs Viking games.

In your tables with percentages (yards gained for instance) your totals again appear to be simple averages if the column of percentages. They should be weighted averages because each team’s percentage is based on a different number of events – hence the need to ‘weight’ the averages.

You show % of yards shotgun vs under center but the number is meaningless until you normalize it for the number of snaps taken in each formation. Having more passing yards in shotgun is misleading since it’s not proportionate to the snaps taken. Bridgewater is actually a more effective passer under center compared to shotgun once the data is normalized.