Monday, October 22, 2007

Playcalling 101

While I was looking up the play-by-play numbers for the post below I was struck by the Vikings' playcalling choices on 3rd and short. I consider 3rd and short to be 3rd and 3 yards or less to go (and for this purpose 4th and short also). With a team that has a devastating running attack facing 3rd and short should be an opportunity to use your strength and extend a drive, but what if the playcalling is off. Could this lead to losses for your team? I think so and when looking at the Vikings I think our record could be better if the playcalling were a tad bit better and played to our strength rather than trying to establish our weakness to improve our strength (i.e. trying to pass in order to establish the running game). So here are the 3rd and shorts for all our games so far and if it had consequence it is noted.

3rd and 3 (50 yd line) Pass Incomplete
3rd and 2 (Min 42) Pass Complete 6 yards
3rd and 1 (Det 37) Moore Rush Middle 3 yards
3rd and 1 (Det 25) Pass INTERCEPTED [Turnover in Detroit Territory we lose by 3 in overtime]
3rd and 2 (Min 42) Pass Incomplete
3rd and 2 (Min 22) Pass Incomplete
3rd and 1 (Min 12) Peterson Rush Middle 5 yards
3rd and 3 (Min 26) Pass Complete 7 yards
3rd and 2 (Det 34) Pass Incomplete [Longwell misses 52 yd attempt at end of regulation, have to wonder if picking up the 1st down would have won this game too]
Kansas City
3rd and 1 (Min 29) Peterson Rush Middle 0 yards FUMBLE LOST [led to FG, we lose by 3]
3rd and 1 (KC 48) Peterson Rush Middle 8 yards
Green Bay
3rd and 1 (Min 30) Dugan Rush Middle 3 yards
3rd and 2 (Min 28) Pass Complete 5 yards
3rd and 1 (Min 29) Pass Complete 11 yards
3rd and 2 (GB 39) Pass Incomplete [Punted-with a few extra yards a FG a possibility]
3rd and 1 (Min 23) Taylor Rush Left 4 yards
3rd and 1 (Min 36) Richardson Rush Right 4 yards
3rd and 3 (Min 33) Pass Complete 7 yards
3rd and 3 (Min 36) Pass Incomplete
3rd and 2 (Chi 49) Pass Incomplete
3rd and 3 (Min 45) Peterson Rush Right 3 yard loss
3rd and 3 (Min 27) Pass Incomplete
4th and 1 (Dal 36) Peterson Rush Right 1 yard
3rd and 1 (Dal 26) Peterson Rush Middle 6 yards [Both 4th and 1 and this play were part of the TD drive opening up the game]
3rd and 3 (Min 23) Pass Incomplete

So lets loook at this in another way.
3rd and 3 = 7 Total
1 Rush Attempt (FAILED)
6 Pass Attempts (2 Converted 4 Failed)
3rd and 2 = 7 Total
0 Rush Attempts
7 Pass Attempts (2 Converted 5 Failed)
3rd and 1 = 10 Total
7 Rush Attempts (6 Converted 1 Failed)
3 Pass Attempts (1 Converted 2 Failed)
4th and 1 = 1 Total
1 Rush Attempt (CONVERTED)
0 Pass Attempts

This means in 3rd and Short (and 4th and short) opportunities of which we have had 25 attempts we have called 16 pass attempts and converted umder 33% of them. Conversely we have called 9 running plays and have converted 78% of them. If you look up at the game-by-game notations, the Detroit game really stands out because there were two opportunities to at least get a FG or a better FG attempt but it was foiled because of pass plays being called on 3rd and short. This might not seem like a big thing, but keeping the ball in our possession and giving Adrian Peterson another touch and chance to breakout are huge. The Vikings need to play to their strength and quit trying to be sneaky by calling pass plays on 3rd and short.

(data compiled from Yahoo box scores)


  1. Anonymous5:17 PM

    It seems the Detroit game is the only one where it was likely to have a chance to make any difference in terms of convertng a loss into a win,and keep in mind that the strength of that defense is their two defensive tackles. That isn't to say the Vikings shouldn't have run more on third and short in that game, but just that it wasn't completely irrational to throw a lot, either.

  2. Anonymous5:40 PM

    That is true, but this is also only an analysis of 3rd and short plays. This team is predicated upon the run and so when their pass plays and run plays are close to equal there are problems (like against Dallas and Green Bay). This team is built for the run and they should be about 65 vs. 35 run plays to pass plays. I know that others will counter with the fact that the run would be less effective if this were the case, but cmon everyone knows that the Vikings can't pass and you can't tell me that defenses havent prepared to stop the run and allow the passing game to beat them. It isn't going to happen so lets play our strength.

  3. Teams are gearing up to stop the run now, knowing that we cant throw.It seems to me that TJ is afraid to throw and seems very uncomfortable doing so.
    To tell the truth I am confused by the whole Offensive scheme.There was 11 mins left in the 4th quater and we played like we had all the time in the world.
    We have no Offense except AP so we used him 12 times the whole game.The passing game is so bad that we need to bench TJ activate MeMo have Chester,AP,MeMo sitting in backfield taking direct snaps from center.

  4. Anonymous7:32 PM

    Yea but all you guys wanted to not overuse APAD.... right??? OK i'm just kidding - But Chill is a dumb ass. No if's and's or but's about it..... Sticking with a very very shaky (and not ready AT ALL for the NFL)TJack is just more proof of the "genius" (ha) of Chillidumbdumb...


  5. Anonymous9:02 PM

    No, Peterson had 14 touches from the line of scrimmage; 12 rushes, 1 complete pass, and on incomplete pass off his hands. Yes, that is low, but the primary cause was that the Vikings only had 46 snaps the entire game. Yes, Barber had a higher percentage of touches, compared to the Cowboys' snaps, but the paradox is that it is a lot high easier to get Barber touches when you have a passing game. I love Peterson, but the NFL is a passing league, and the Vikings will not get anything approaching Peterson's potential value until they have at least an average passing attack.

    Mismanaging the qb position in the NFL is fatal error.

  6. Anonymous9:07 PM

    Well, FCN!, guy, at least you are now getting warm regarding what are good reasons for criticizing Childress.

  7. When you continue to go 3 and out every time you get the ball its hard to more then 46 snaps off.Convert some of those 3rd downs make them first downs.
    And you first must have a QB to even think about throwing the ball or mismanage him.
    Hell fire Childress and the whole string of QBs.Get a real bona fide QB in camp someone that can throw and connect.Hell bring Jeff George back if he aint on oxygen yet.Throw a couple bottles of geritol in his locker and all will be fine.

  8. Anonymous2:08 AM

    Mismanaging the position begins with who you have on the roster, speedlod.

  9. Which just happens to be no one.Instead of saying mismanagement of QB spot wouldnt it be better to call it what it really is.Not knowing how to manage a team would be a great start.

  10. Anonymous9:11 AM

    Because, "mismanaging the qb position" more accurately chracterizes the error, speedlod. An example. Parcells mismanaged the position in Dallas, and it was his greatest error in his last stint. It wasn't as if he didn't have anybody who was any good, it was that he misjudged his time frames. He thought he could squeeze a little more productivity out of Bledsoe, as Romo came along, and he lost 2005, and almost lost 2006 as a result. Parcells was right about Romo's potential, but wrong about what he should do to bide his time as Romo met his potential. It is still possible that Tavaris Jackson might be a decent NFL qb. If David Garrard or Tony Romo had been asked to be full time starters at similar points in their careers, they may have looked just as bad as Jackson does. Childress' biggest error has been in failing to try to acquire a qb who has been available for two off-seasons in a row, and who has the mobility that this system requires to work well, still has velocity on the ball, and knows the system inside and out. Jeff Garcia. This team would likely have four wins if Garcia was behind center, and perhaps five, or even, gulp, six.

  11. David Carr would have been a nice addition also.But Chilly also mismanages the running game, the return game by not putting MeMo in as a return man.Cook needs more time on practice squad, and its clear that Chilly does not have the team practice passing often.TJ has the arm strength to complete the passes required in this Offense but cant tell if he just so afraid to turn over the ball that he is gun shy or if TJ has never ran these plays before.
    I cant put the blame just on TJ as Johnson before him had same problems.Holcomb during his brief playing had similar problems.I cant imagine that this Offense is so complex that 3 QBs have such a hard time running it.If Favre can run this style Offense anyone can.Which leads me to believe the fault lies somewhere in Chillys scheme of things.Granted we dont have the greatest Recievers but out of 20 passes at least 12 should be caught.After 1 and a half seasons something should be clicking.

  12. Anonymous9:54 PM

    David Carr? Are you kidding me? The guy can't even find success in Carolina which has possibly the best WR in the NFC.

  13. Anonymous10:13 PM

    David Carr stinks. Period. The one thing Childress was right about was not pursuing David Carr. There is nothing about coaching that is going to improve Kelly Holcombe and Brooks Bollinger. They can't play, and they are too far along in their careers to get any better.
    One reason why overlooking Garcia was such an egregious error is that unlike a lot of old veterans, like Brad Johnson or Holcombe, Garcia is still pretty mobile, which helps a lot in any offense, in that it makes it harder for the defense to stunt at will, but is especially useful in this offense. Who knows? Maybe Garcia quietly let it be known that he wasn't interested in playing for a club with such lousy receivers.

    Tavaris Jackson may get there, but there certainly was nothing in his college career to indicate it is likely, which means he was drafted too high. Yes, an NFL qb needs a minimum on his fastball to be viable, but that just gets you in the door. Accuracy is just as important, if not more so, and Tavaris Jackson has never shown at any level that he is an extremely accurate passer. I certainly hope Childress' confidence in Jackson pays off, but there isn't a lot of reason to think that it will.

  14. Anybody looks better then TJ atm or the other 2 for all that.We have a great run defense and an out of this world running back.We need a QB and a Top notch WR today.Each year we await for the Offense to catch up we erode where we are strong.We dont want to end up with a awesome Offense and a subpar Defense again.
    The FA situation is bleak cant say we will get better then what we have already.