The Vikings Have a 3-and-Out Problem
On both offense and defense, the 2022 Minnesota Vikings have a 3-and-Out problem through seven weeks of the season.
Thankfully for their sake, the franchise is 5-1 through a bye week with a 2.5-game lead on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North and a grip on the No.2 seed in the NFC’s evolving playoff picture.
Still, Minnesota must do some soul-searching to rectify 3-and-Out demons on both sides of the ball.
For clarity, a 3-and-Out on offense is when Kirk Cousins and his pals receive the ball for a drive, run three plays, and punt. Conversely, on defense, it’s when the opponent receives the ball for a drive, runs three plays, and punts.
The Vikings aren’t dynamic in either regard, on offense or defense. The season still has 65% of games to go, so there is time for repair.
On offense, Minnesota is third-worst in the NFL as of October 26th in racking up 3-and-Outs:
Most 3-and-Outs on Offense,
thru Week 7:
And any list below the beleaguered Broncos on offense is tragic. Too, the Vikings are trending adversely via the 3-and-Out metric amid the last four seasons:
3 and Outs on Offense,
2019 = 1.87
2020 = 1.87
2021 = 3.11
2022 = 3.17
To be fair, the offensive 3-and-Out stat is severely skewed by the Week 6 game at the Miami Dolphins. The Vikings somehow won by eight points — while churning out 10 — yes, 10 — 3-and-Outs. If one wiped that game from existence, Kevin O’Connell’s team would rank as the eight-fewest 3-and-Outs. But that’s not how math works.
On defense, the sins aren’t much different. The Vikings only force 1.66 3-and-Outs in 2022, which is the fifth-fewest through seven weeks. And this statistic actually makes sense, as Ed Donatell’s defense is notorious for surrendering yardage but limiting points. It’s the ultimate bend-don’t-break mentality. Minnesota ranks 27th in the NFL per yards allowed but 12th-best in points allowed.
Here’s the problem in a nutshell:
thru Week 7 of 2022,
On Offense = 3.17 (3rd Worst in NFL)
On Defense = 1.66 (5th Worst in NFL)
So, if it feels like the Vikings have too many 3-and-Outs on offense and never really force them on defense, your eye test is wholly vindicated — at least for the first 35% of the season.
With or without 3-and-Outs, the Vikings take on the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Arizona is in the middle of the road for offensive and defensive 3-and-Outs.
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Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).