Minnesota Vikings Struggle in Short-Yardage

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Vikings have been dismal in short-yardage situations over the last four games. On both sides of the ball, the Vikings have not been able to capitalize.

On third and fourth down and short situations, the Minnesota Vikings offense is 5-13 in their four straight losses. On defense, the Vikings are 0-4 in these same situations.


In the red zone, the Vikings have only scored twice on third and short using the run game. In their first two losses, the Vikings were 1-5 in the red zone. Over the past two games, the Vikings improved to 4-7 (57 percent) inside the 20, but winning teams typically convert red zone drives at about 65 percent.

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A major factor in their short-yardage and red zone woes has been their persistence to run the ball despite a major lack of talent. Matt Asiata has been the go-to in these situations besides one Jerick Mckinnon attempt, and it always looks the same: the use of obvious running formations, running up the gut.

This has failed repeatedly, but that hasn’t stopped the Vikings from using this strategy four games in a row. Somehow, the coaching staff has found appeal in running a tackle-prone back behind a flimsy offenseive line.

With how poorly as the offensive line has played, it seems obvious to suggest that the Vikings need to change their approach in short yardage. To make matters worse, Jake Long is now out for the season. At the very least, the Vikings should try to spread the formation if they run to make the match up more unexpected and, therefore, more even.


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The cop out here is to suggest that the defense is tired from being on the field for extended periods of time, and therefore cannot stop obvious runs up the middle. Although this is a good argument, an even better one is that the Vikings haven’t had leads in this situation. Therefore, it makes the opposing offenses very unpredictable due to their wealth of options holding the lead. Still, even head coach Mike Zimmer admitted that the Vikings defense has been trying to do too much in these scenarios, and that they need to start playing his way again.