mansquatch wrote:Let's look at the Patriots. They went 14-2. Their average margin of victory is 15.28 points. In only 4 of their 14 wins was the margin of victory one score or less and 2 of those were a margin of 7 points, meaning the opponent needed a TD to tie it, one other game was 5 points meaning they needed a TD as well. Only in week 1 was the margin 2 points and a FG would have done the trick.
In looking at defensive stats and only stats you have to ask yourself a question: How much of the team stat is the defense being great on it's own and how much of it is the offense giving them help by scoring and making the opponent 1 dimensional? I humbly submit that the two teams you are mentioning are playing good defense in the playoffs (no small feat) but that neither team identifies with it's defense as it's primary means to win games. All 4 of the teams currently in the playoffs fit this mold. None of these teams are playing ELITE defense like you see from teams like DEN, HOU, and yes, even our Vikings.
I saw a LOT of talk about elite defense from the Vikings this year and precious little of it. However, to your point: I don't think it matters if the Patriots offense is helping their defense be better. That just reinforces the importance of balance and underlines how badly the Vikes have once again botched their attempts to build a championship team by focusing far too much on one aspect of the team while allowing the other to become a mess.
I think the Patriots identify with team
play to win games. It's been that way all along. They don't make the mistake of viewing their defense or their offense alone as their primary way to win.
Now you can be snarky and say that none of the elite defensive teams are playing this weekend. That is true.
I don't think it is true. The team with the defense that allowed the fewest points
in the league this year is still playing. I'm not sure how you are defining an elite defense if you don't think the Patriots defense fits that description. Is there some reason a defense can't be considered elite if they're actually paired with a top offense? I don't think playing complementary football undermines either unit.
But it hasn't been true the last three years. As an aside to this there seem to be two models for winning the championship:
Model 1: Win the Elite QB lottery and build a high powered offense with just enough defense sprinkled in. See the 4 teams playing on Sunday. Typically these defenses focus on takeaways.
Model 2: Build an Elite Defense and enough playmaking on Offense and then suffocate your opponents to get to victory. These defense focus on PA and the team as a whole focuses on playing clean.
Those are two potential models for winning a Super Bowl but there are clearly other approaches that can lead to a Super Bowl win. For example, the 2012 Ravens certainly didn't fit either model.
Bringing this back to the Vikings: I think people make a mistake in their thinking and look at the team performance in silos (each unit by itself) without taking into account how they feed off of each other. If our offense had put up even average PF , it is very likely that with our D would have ranked ever higher. Not because they would have played any better, but because they would have had a much greater margin for error.
Now a question about PIT and NE: If you took the same defense, but made their offense average, would they still have the same rank? I think the answer is obviously no.
DEN by contrast has a new QB and their defense is still playing at very high level. The Vikings had a total dumpster fire on offense and the defense was still elite. The point here on the Purple: In terms of model 2: we just need more offense, the Defense is there. This is the reason why I think there is reason to still be excited for the Vikings. Our Def was ranked #3 despite having the #28 Offense.
Yes, but keep in mind the first 5 games were a big part of why they finished so high in those rankings. They didn't sustain an elite level of play. Perhaps they could with a better offense but I think there's reason to question that and "just" needing more offense isn't exactly a trivial, easily overcome hurdle. What makes you think this GM and coaching staff can overcome that hurdle? Spielman has almost no history of putting together above average passing games or offenses. It's obviously not Zimmer's specialty. Shurmur's past offenses have not done well when Chip Kelly wasn't both designing them and calling the plays (in other words, that offense in Philly really wasn't Shurmur's). I don't see the likely architects of a significantly better offense on the Vikings and there are obviously some serious personnel issues.
The AVG PF in the NFL ins 2016 was 22.8. The Vikings were 20.4. How much of that PF was due to the horrendous play at Tackle by backups and the Kicker missing so many opportunities in the first half of the season? They've fixed the kicker issue. Can they fix the tackles? In the grand scheme of things though, They are not that far away.
It's not inconceivable that they could make all the right moves and quickly become a contender but the "elite" defense folded again and again when it counted this season and the offense has miles to go. I understand the argument you're making but it's very hard for me to imagine this Vikings team is about to transform into a Super Bowl contender next season. I think their roster needs serious work and the same doubts I expressed above about the ability of Rick Spielman and the coaching staff to fix the offense apply to postseason success. Spielman has seen minimal postseason success as an NFL executive The same goes for key members of the coaching staff. Zimmer has never been on the winning side of a playoff game as a coordinator or head coach. He's never fielded the kind of suffocating, truly elite defense that carries a team all the way. Former HCs on the staff like Shurmur and Sparano haven't had postseason success either and neither has DC George Edwards. I understand that you're looking at this from the point of view of what's possible
: elite defense plus improved offense could equal a "model 2" championship. That could happen but in terms of what's probable
, when I consider the history of the players, coaches and GM involved, combined with the evident problems and collapse in 2016, a Vikings championship in the near future looks very unlikely to me.
Believe me, I wish I felt differently but I think the Vikes are just another one of the NFL's mediocre teams... again.