The Vikings End-of-Half Offense Needs to be More Decisive

Explained: State of the Vikings thru 9 Weeks
Aug 27, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

At the end of the opening half of the Packers game, the Vikings had the chance to either run out the clock or aggressively pursue more points. In the end, they failed to fulfill either of these objectives, instead needing to punt the ball to Green Bay. In a game where almost everything went right, this is a moment where things could have been better. Indeed, the Vikings offense should have been more decisive.

Green Bay took over possession of the football with less than a minute on the clock. Aaron Rodgers attempted a deep pass to Randall Cobb. Unfortunately for the Packers, Harrison Smith – who I believe will be an All Pro this season – was there for the interception:

Perhaps the main benefit of the play rested in ensuring the Packers couldn’t trim the lead to 14 points with a late FG. As the game broadcast suggests, though, the Vikings had the chance to do something on offense, but they’d need to be decisive. Two timeouts and :27 seconds isn’t a ton of time.

Minnesota had a choice to make. They could simply run the ball, content to head into the half with an impressive three-score lead. Or, perhaps, they could push the ball down the field. Greg Joseph certainly inspires a ton of confidence at this stage, so anything from less than 60 yards seems like a reasonable option.

What happened was something quite different.

Minnesota had a 1-yard completion before consecutive incompletions. Both of the missed passes – one to Irv Smith, one to Dalvin Cook – were in the short area of the field. Failing to complete the passes meant Ryan Wright had to launch another punt into GB’s territory, opening the possibility for a large return.

Thankfully, the Packers couldn’t capitalize on the extra opportunity. Nevertheless, the Vikings ought to adjust their strategy. It’d be far more productive to either fully pursue aggressive gains or simply hand the ball off to run down the clock.

The initial pass went for a yard and then Kevin O’Connell called a timeout, suggesting the team still had ambitions of gaining significant yardage. Looking back, it may have been better to simply let the clock run once Cook failed to turn the screen into a large gain.

They gained possession with 27 seconds left. Their drive only took 21 seconds.

My assumption is that O’Connell called plays that allowed Kirk Cousins to begin with a target who is far down the field. If the coverage is solid, simply check the ball down. If, somehow, the short pass turns into a massive gain, then a field goal (or long pass) is a possibility. If it simply goes for a few yards, then that’s fine, as well. The clock will be drained and the team maintains that impressive 17-point lead.

Unfortunately, the incompletions stopped the clock, allowing the Packers to have another chance with the football. Again, GB didn’t do anything with the punt return, so in many ways it’s no harm, no foul.

Moving forward, the Vikings should be more decisive with their end-of-half offense. Opting to either run out the clock or fully pursue the points is better than a middle option that accomplishes neither goal.

Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

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