Compare the 98 Vikings with our team this year.
Using a devastating passing attack, the 98 Vikings set the season record for scoring 556 points that season. They never scored fewer than 24, had 52 plays of 25+ yards (22 of them longer than 40 yards), Cunningham and Johnson combined for 41 passing TDs. Randy Moss alone caught 17 TDs, Leroy Hoard ran for 9. We had the 1st ranked pass offense, the 11th ranked run offense, the 13th ranked defense. We went 15-1, only losing to Tampa by 3 points, then got beat out of the playoffs by Atlanta when Gary Anderson decided perfection was a stupid concept.
Now, let’s see how a run-first offense has treated us.
We may have the league leading rusher, but our run game ranks 5th. Our passing (non)attack is ranked 30th. Our QB has 8 TDs and 8 INTs through 12 games. Our league-leading MVP rusher has amassed 8 TDs in our “run-first” offense. Wow. We’ve managed to squeak out wins on several losing teams, only have 2 wins against teams with a winning record, and gotten blown out by 2 of 3 marquis teams on our schedule thus far. Run-first is not working for us, because when the run fails, we have NOTHING to fall back on right now.
I know this does nothing to compare OLine protection, but the stats lean decisively toward higher success with a better passing game than a better running game. Focusing on AP has stunted Teddy’s growth. He threw 14 TDs as a rookie over the same number of games last year without AP on the field, and the OLine was just as messed up.
Vikings’ brass better invest a couple higher picks into the OLine next draft. Hoping for Sullivan and Loadholt to come back 100% is a risky prospect, and people are already forgetting how much they hated on Loadsofholds. If Bridgewater still can’t get it done with better protection, then the blame falls on the receivers.
A high-powered passing offense coupled with a dangerous running back, anchored by Zimmer’s powerful defense is the recipe the Vikings need to take their place among the NFL elite.