When the Minnesota Vikings employed John DeFilippo this offseason, it was truthful to consider that they had introduced in considered one of the prime up-and-coming offensive minds in the NFL. In any case, he had simply performed a task in profitable the Tremendous Bowl with Nick Foles under middle.
The transfer not solely did not stay as much as expectations, it utterly blew up in the Vikings’ face. Head coach Mike Zimmer introduced Tuesday that the Vikings had fired DeFilippo following a poor efficiency towards the Seattle Seahawks.
“John is a good football coach, he is a good man, hard worker, it was a very difficult decision,” Zimmer stated by way of convention name. “I felt like we always had really good dialogue. I felt like there was a sense of urgency here in the last three weeks of the season of trying to improve, offensively especially, and trying to win these final three games of the season.”
In a “production based business,” the manufacturing under DeFilippo was stunningly dangerous. Heading into the remaining three video games of the season, the Vikings rank 20th in factors, 28th in proportion of drives that produce factors, 22nd in yards per move try and 23rd in yards per rush.
However these numbers don’t inform the whole story.
Certainly one of the issues that possible annoyed Zimmer was the offensive coordinator’s incapability to stay with issues that labored. It isn’t that DeFilippo lacked good concepts, he simply appeared to maneuver away from concepts that had success.
Listed here are 5 concepts that DeFilippo used successfully at occasions that new play caller Kevin Stefanski ought to use on a weekly foundation moderately than intermittently as his predecessor did…
Dalvin Prepare dinner as WR3
With two gifted operating backs and a scarcity of a real No. three large receiver, it might behoove the Vikings to use Dalvin Prepare dinner and Latavius Murray on the area at the similar time.
Prepare dinner has solely lined up as a large receiver 16 occasions in 350 snaps. A type of performs was a jet sweep by which Stefon Diggs lined up in the backfield. Prepare dinner created a strong achieve on the play, which was lauded by Zimmer a number of occasions after the Vikings’ win towards the Packers. But they didn’t use it once more over the final two weeks.
Prepare dinner has the uncommon means as a operating again to run efficient routes. In the Vikings’ first matchup with the Packers, he ran a slant route as an outdoor receiver and gained 24 yards.
When Prepare dinner returned from a hamstring damage towards the Lions, he was used on the subject at the similar time as Murray on one play and it was almost damaged for an enormous play on a slot display.
Cousins’ throw takes Prepare dinner backwards permitting the outdoors linebacker to trace him down, however discover the room alongside the sideline with Laquon Treadwell blocking. The play had the potential to show into an enormous achieve.
Enjoying Murray and Prepare dinner collectively would additionally permit the Vikings to use play-action and throw passes to Prepare dinner as a receiver on these performs.
After the loss in Seattle, Cousins talked about the undeniable fact that groups have been double teaming Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen on lengthy third downs. Opposing groups must supply more respect for Prepare dinner as a slot or outdoors receiver on third-and-long due to his explosive yards-after-catch talents.
There isn’t a lot objective to utilizing Treadwell on third down. He’s gained a primary down simply 10 occasions on 26 targets over the final two seasons on third down.
Utilizing Prepare dinner as a receiver additionally may assist Murray discover some rhythm. Since Prepare dinner returned, Murray has simply 84 yards on 32 runs. In the weeks Prepare dinner was lacking, Murray rushed 63 occasions for 322 yards (5.1 YPC).
Kyle Rudolph on third down
The Vikings’ Professional Bowl tight finish has been focused 17 occasions on third down and has gained a primary down 11 occasions. With defenses focusing so closely on Thielen and Diggs, getting in Rudolph’s course is sensible contemplating his robust palms, means to beat smaller defenders one-on-one and present for locating gaps in the protection.
Take a look at the performs under. On third-and-7 towards the Packers, the protection places 4 gamers round Diggs and Rudolph is open in the flat for a primary down. On the second play, he sits down in the zone and lunges ahead for a primary down. He was focused seven occasions with seven catches towards the Packers and has simply 5 catches for 42 yards since then.
The place he may be the best is third-and-short.
On the play under from Week 2, DeFilippo dialed up a play-action look by which Rudolph leaked out into the flat vast open for an explosive play on third down.
The Vikings went 2-for-7 on third-and-short towards the Seahawks and Zero-for-2 on fourth down.
Rudolph’s pink zone manufacturing has been surprisingly non-existent this season. Inside the pink zone final yr he caught 14 of 16 throws in his course with six touchdowns. This yr he’s caught three of 10 passes his means with two TDs (splits by way of Professional-Soccer Reference).
Pulling O’Neill/outdoors runs
In line with Professional Soccer Focus, Prepare dinner has 30 runs for 130 yards going to the outdoors (four.three yards per carry). Apart from one 70-yard rush, Prepare dinner is averaging three.2 yards per carry between the tackles.
One in every of his most successful runs this season got here on a rush to the outdoors with proper deal with Brian O’Neill and middle Pat Elflein pulling.
The Vikings lauded each gamers in the draft for his or her athleticism. In reality, O’Neill is certainly one of the quickest offensive linemen ever at the NFC Mix. You possibly can see on the play above how shortly he flies into the flat and drives the defensive again 20 yards down the area.
We didn’t see the Vikings return to O’Neill pulling or getting outdoors on screens to Prepare dinner very often over the final two video games.
The rookie from Pitt has struggled at occasions taking over defensive ends one-on-one due to his lack of energy. The answer could possibly be to get him on the transfer regularly.
Double staff beaters
Following the loss to Seattle, Cousins went into element on the problem of beating double groups for Thielen and Diggs in these third-and-long conditions.
“The only piece that I notice is truly different from the first three, four games of the year would be there were two third downs earlier where they truly were doubling Adam and Stefon in a way that they’re not going to get the ball, they shouldn’t get the ball” Cousins stated.
Towards the Patriots, DeFilippo dialed up a route for Thielen to beat a double workforce and it almost labored for an enormous achieve. Thielen runs a stop-and-go and obtained each defenders to decelerate after which accelerated away from them in open area.
However the Vikings have been unable to provide you with one other shot play into Diggs or Thielen once they have been double coated. They merely can’t let opposing groups remove their greatest gamers in huge spots. There should be solutions to opponents’ adjustment to the unimaginable begin to the season by Diggs and Thielen.
Stefanski may additionally need to prod Cousins to throw in the course of Diggs or Thielen when they’re doubled. Earlier this yr, Invoice Belichick defined a landing move from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski on the Patriots’ web site. Why did it work? Brady threw the ball in a spot solely his receiver might get it….
Invoice Belichick breaks down the movie on all the greatest performs from final week’s win. pic.twitter.com/hqrkRG2sr0
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 13, 2018
CJ Ham as TE2
In a league dominated by stars, may sound foolish to say the Vikings have sorely missed their No. 2 tight finish David Morgan, however he was an enormous asset for the 2017 model and was used as an efficient blocker and to provide defenses run seems to be in play-action earlier this yr.
Right here is an instance when the Vikings went with three tight ends and ran a ranges play with Thielen going deep and No. three TE Tyler Conklin going large open in the intermediate degree. Cousins misses the throw nevertheless it was clear the 49ers have been thrown off by the run take a look at play-action, creating a chance for an enormous play.
Conklin has not come via as a blocker, so the Vikings ought to think about using fullback CJ Ham more often on the line of scrimmage.
Towards the Bears, Ham was in as the No. 2 tight finish on a play-action rollout that almost resulted in a landing that may have modified the recreation towards the Bears.
Ham has solely been in on seven cross blocking snaps this yr however has not allowed a strain per PFF. He was the third highest graded operating again/fullback cross blocker by PFF final season.
Utilizing a number of tight ends to create mismatches and assist with safety has develop into more and more commonplace in the NFL. The Seahawks used a number of TEs and additional linemen routinely towards the Vikings’ protection to assist their dashing assault on Monday night time.
In accordance with SharpFootballStats, the Vikings have solely used 12 personnel (two TE, one RB) on 68 move performs this yr. Per Soccer Outsiders, the Vikings have been one among solely three groups to use two TEs on more than 300 move performs final season.
The underside line
Clearly the temporary DeFilippo period was not a hit in Minnesota. Had the Vikings been a budding younger staff, it’s possible he would have gotten far more alternative to study from miscues and proper issues. As an alternative on a win-now staff, he’s out of a job. Now Stefanski has a chance to take a few of the parts of DeFilippo’s offense that labored and mix them together with his personal concepts and the concepts utilized by former OC Pat Shurmur. In fact, he’s solely acquired three weeks in the midst of a playoff race to determine it out. That gained’t be a simple activity.
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