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 Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling 
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Post Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
In order to keep the "positive" thread positive, let's carry the discussion of red zone scoring and play calling over into this thread.

I think we all agree the Vikes need to do a better job of scoring in the red zone. How should they go about it? Has their play calling been too conservative inside the opponent's 20? Do they play for the field goal too often? Should they attack the end zone more aggressively?

Discuss. :)


Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:43 am
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
Jimsucksbig

:spanking: :spanking: :spanking: :spanking:

I continue my question from before: Is it the play calling that is the limiting factor or the ability of the players on the field to execute that is the limiting our PF?

I feel like the playcalling follows the ability of the players, but maybe I'm in the minority.

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Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:01 am
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
mansquatch wrote:
Jimsucksbig

:spanking: :spanking: :spanking: :spanking:


What the...? All I did was start a thread so this subject wouldn't keep derailing another thread. I didn't even introduce the subject!

Quote:
I continue my question from before: Is it the play calling that is the limiting factor or the ability of the players on the field to execute that is the limiting our PF?


I don't think it's just one or the other. They've both been limiting factors but the playcalling has tended to be conservative and it doesn't have to be conservative.

Quote:
I feel like the playcalling follows the ability of the players, but maybe I'm in the minority.


It depends on what you mean. If you don't have good red zone targets or a QB who can be trusted to decisively make accurate throws into tight coverage, attacking the end zone is much more difficult. If you have a good power running game, it makes sense to utilize it in the red zone.

I don't see this as an issue where the quality of the OL can be used as a justification for conservative play calling, particularly since conservative play calling tends to lean heavily on blocking to be successful!


Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:35 am
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
Mothman wrote:
mansquatch wrote:
Jimsucksbig

:spanking: :spanking: :spanking: :spanking:


What the...? All I did was start a thread so this subject wouldn't keep derailing another thread. I didn't even introduce the subject!


This was supposed to be funny!

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Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:25 am
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
mansquatch wrote:
This was supposed to be funny!


My reply was supposed to subtly indicate I was in on the joke too but I didn't exactly make that clear. Sorry. I'm really tired today...


Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:35 am
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
Well why doesn't it HAVE to be conservative?

If your offense is weak relative to the defense you face, which in the case of the 2016 Vikings offense was every game, then points are at a premium.

If your defense was #3 in the league and the strength of your team, then the points you need to win, on average, is less than most other teams.

So in this case, while getting to the redzone and walking away with NOTHING is ALWAYS bad, in the case of the vikings it is MORE BAD because your trips to the redzone are more scarce. Moreover, because your defense is pretty good, the value of 3 points is GREATER than if your defense were worse.

Ergo... maybe getting a field goal over ZERO is the better play?

Comparing our risk taking to NE and GB is silly btw. Both teams reach the redzone with FAR greater frequency than the Vikings and thus can afford to take risks since they can reliably get there again. If we have Tom Brady at QB I'd expect us to take more risks too. But we don't...

Also, the reason our red zone trips were less frequent was because of... drum roll... our Offensive Line.

So yeah, I'd say one drives the other.

If you do not like that argument, there here is another one: Has anyone seen Pat Shurmer (or Norv) call plays without a shaky OL while with the Vikings? I haven't. So how can we conclude that if the OL wasn't shaky they would still call plays conservatively?

Or another angle: Why do you want them taking more risks when the OL increases the negatives without any increase in the positives or More Risk vs. same reward?

I think what we saw last year was the coaches trying to do what would give them the best opportunity to win with what they had on the field, not what would give them the best chance to win if things were more ideal. If you are to conclude that the coaching will continue to be conservative, then you are also concluding the state of the offense (especially the OL) will remain the same.

Given how last year went vs. 2015 I can see the reasoning since they went into the 2015 offseason saying that had to fix the OL and in 2016 it was worse. That is completely fair. However, we have the luxury of specifics in the NFL, so the real question to me is this: Why do you think Reiff/Remmers will be as bad as Clemmings/Sirles?

I think R/R will be better than C/S. Therefore, given how bad our OL was in 2016, I think we'll see material improvement in our Offense and thus more diversity in the playbook. How much is the question.

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Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:43 am
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
Its mysterious that this problem didn't improve with Shurmur. Of course, the closer you get to endzone the more downhill defenders can play on the underneath routes, but given what Bradford does well, I don't see any reason they shouldn't be able to spread the defense and create quick reads for Sam to use his accuracy.

The state of the OLine and Norvs system was a completely incompatible situation. Unfortunately for Turner's entire tenure that was the case, but I think that explains redzone problems before Shurmur took over pretty well.

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Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:18 am
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
The over commitment to the run last year inside the red zone was quite frustrating, especially later in the season when you could all but predict the outcome. On many of the passing downs my recollection was Bradford having little if any time due to impending pass rushers. That wasn't always the case, but it seemed to be more often than not.

I'm sure some of the pass rush woes were to do it being 3rd and goal after going backward in the running game on the first two snaps making it an obvious passing situation.

That stuff needs to get fixed and I agree, it is more than the OL. The play calling needs to recognize the situation and be more dynamic.

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Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:30 am
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
mansquatch wrote:
Well why doesn't it HAVE to be conservative?

If your offense is weak relative to the defense you face, which in the case of the 2016 Vikings offense was every game, then points are at a premium.


Isn't that all the more reason to get 7 on trips to the red zone instead of 3?

Quote:
If your defense was #3 in the league and the strength of your team, then the points you need to win, on average, is less than most other teams.

So in this case, while getting to the redzone and walking away with NOTHING is ALWAYS bad, in the case of the vikings it is MORE BAD because your trips to the redzone are more scarce. Moreover, because your defense is pretty good, the value of 3 points is GREATER than if your defense were worse.

Ergo... maybe getting a field goal over ZERO is the better play?

Comparing our risk taking to NE and GB is silly btw.


I didn't make that comparison.

Quote:
If you do not like that argument, there here is another one: Has anyone seen Pat Shurmer (or Norv) call plays without a shaky OL while with the Vikings? I haven't. So how can we conclude that if the OL wasn't shaky they would still call plays conservatively?


I don't see why a shaky OL dictates conservative play calling when, for example, leaning on running plays relies on good performance from that same OL. As an explanation for conservative playcalling, that doesn't wash. It's the same argument people were using after the second Lions game last season in response to complaints about conservative playcalling. The Vikings supposedly couldn't throw downfield because the OL was so bad. Bradford even complained about the conservative playcalling at the time and in subsequent weeks, even with a lousy OL, the Vikings were actually able to throw and complete some effective passes downfield. It wasn't impossible at all.

Quote:
Or another angle: Why do you want them taking more risks when the OL increases the negatives without any increase in the positives or More Risk vs. same reward?


It's not the same reward. A TD is worth more than a FG. I want them to be more aggressive in the red zone because I want them to score more points. Scoring points takes pressure off the defense and wins football games. I want them to try. If they fail, they fail. Bad OL play is going to be a factor on conservative plays and aggressive plays so I don't find it a convincing argument against trying harder to get into the end zone.

Quote:
Given how last year went vs. 2015 I can see the reasoning since they went into the 2015 offseason saying that had to fix the OL and in 2016 it was worse. That is completely fair. However, we have the luxury of specifics in the NFL, so the real question to me is this: Why do you think Reiff/Remmers will be as bad as Clemmings/Sirles?


I've never stated I think Reiff/Remmers will be as bad as Clemmings/Sirles. :confused:


Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:37 am
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
mansquatch wrote:
The over commitment to the run last year inside the red zone was quite frustrating, especially later in the season when you could all but predict the outcome. On many of the passing downs my recollection was Bradford having little if any time due to impending pass rushers. That wasn't always the case, but it seemed to be more often than not.

I'm sure some of the pass rush woes were to do it being 3rd and goal after going backward in the running game on the first two snaps making it an obvious passing situation.

That stuff needs to get fixed and I agree, it is more than the OL. The play calling needs to recognize the situation and be more dynamic.


Exactly but if that's how you feel, I don't understand why you seem to be arguing the opposite above.


Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:40 am
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
I feel that the predictability of the play calling needs to changed. I'm just not sure how much of that is blundering by the coaches and how much is due to personnel limitations. I know I implied the former above. My criticism was meant to be narrow: I think the coaches need to be more aware of how predictable they are. However, I also think having watched most games last season that the offense as whole was predictable because they were so limited in what they could do as a result of the OL disaster. They couldn't do other things well enough to make them worth doing against an NFL defense.

It is hard for me think this somehow isn't equally (or more) of a driver of the red zone issues that just blundering by the coaches.

The biggest thing for me here is the lack of information. We just do not know.

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Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:07 am
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
mansquatch wrote:
I feel that the predictability of the play calling needs to changed. I'm just not sure how much of that is blundering by the coaches and how much is due to personnel limitations.

I know I implied the former above. My criticism was meant to be narrow: I think the coaches need to be more aware of how predictable they are. However, I also think having watched most games last season that the offense as whole was predictable because they were so limited in what they could do as a result of the OL disaster. They couldn't do other things well enough to make them worth doing against an NFL defense.

It is hard for me think this somehow isn't equally (or more) of a driver of the red zone issues that just blundering by the coaches.


I'd describe it as a chosen coaching philosophy rather than blundering (just because the latter implies a careless mistake) but it's a multi-season issue. Personnel issues have some impact on play calling decisions and maybe you think those same factors have been driving predictable and conservative offense from the Vikes for a few years now. If that's the case, it brings us back to larger issues about the team's approach to the offense.

Quote:
The biggest thing for me here is the lack of information. We just do not know.


What crucial information are we lacking on this subject? We know who determines the personnel on the roster and on the field. We know who calls the plays. We know what plays were called. We know the results of those plays. We know which players were on the field. Whether the red zone playcalling is driven by fear of mistakes or an inherently conservative coaching philosophy, it plays out the same on the field. They're making a choice to be predictable and conservative and they have other, potentially more effective, options.

The approach they've taken has just not yielded very good results.


Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:36 am
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
Jim you are basically saying that in three years under Zimmer we've been seeing conservative play calling (we have) and since it has been three seasons, it is safe to call it a pattern. That is a reasonable conclusion to reach on that broad stroke.

However I have difficulty squaring it with the OL situation. The OL was at best below AVG in 2014. In 2015 it was so bad that going into the offseason they said it was their biggest issue going forward. Then we had the total dumpster fire that was 2016. It isn't a stretch to say we've never seen them have the benefit of even average OL production in the Zimmer era. In fact, two of those three seasons we saw TJ Clemmings, quite possible the worst Vikings Tackle of ALL TIME, play the majority of the offensive snaps.

I just think it is fair to wonder if we will see more aggressive play calling if we start getting more reliable play up front? Or you might turn it around and ask the reverse question: If we get better protection would we continue to call the same dink and dunk offense?

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Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:33 pm
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
mansquatch wrote:
Jim you are basically saying that in three years under Zimmer we've been seeing conservative play calling (we have) and since it has been three seasons, it is safe to call it a pattern. That is a reasonable conclusion to reach on that broad stroke.

However I have difficulty squaring it with the OL situation. The OL was at best below AVG in 2014. In 2015 it was so bad that going into the offseason they said it was their biggest issue going forward. Then we had the total dumpster fire that was 2016. It isn't a stretch to say we've never seen them have the benefit of even average OL production in the Zimmer era. In fact, two of those three seasons we saw TJ Clemmings, quite possible the worst Vikings Tackle of ALL TIME, play the majority of the offensive snaps.

I just think it is fair to wonder if we will see more aggressive play calling if we start getting more reliable play up front? Or you might turn it around and ask the reverse question: If we get better protection would we continue to call the same dink and dunk offense?


I think they probably would.

It's certainly fair to wonder if we might see more aggressive play calling with more reliable OL play but if the OL is indeed what's been holding it back, that's indicative of a pretty conservative mindset in the first place because predictable, conservative red zone play calling isn't the only way to deal with that problem. In fact, I'd argue it's not even the smartest way. If the goal is simply to avoid turnovers and make sure to get at least 3 points per trip, that approach is a way to accomplish those modest goals but except in very particular game situations, that really shouldn't be their goal. Their primary goal on the vast majority of trips into the red zone should be to actually score TDs and although a bad OL makes it harder to attack the end zone, it doesn't preclude it. If anything, I think the more conservative approach tends to make it harder on the OL in those situations by asking them to do what they don't do well: exert their will against stacked fronts in the running game (mainly on first and second down) and then pass protect in obvious third down passing situations because they weren't actually able to exert their will on the previous 2 plays! A more aggressive, less predictable approach could help them achieve better results by making them harder to defend. Fielding a better OL in the first place would obviously be helpful too. :)

I suspect if we see better OL play than we have in the previous 3 years, especially in the running game, we'll see more of the same conservative playcalling because they'll have increased confidence that their ground game can do the job. Of course, if it actually can do the job most of the time, that would be fine.


Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:11 pm
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
Let me phrase it a different way:

If the OL is better, the array of plays they have to choose from is probably quite a bit larger than what we saw last year or even in 2015.

Also, in 2015, relying on the run to score wasn't that bad of an idea since we were handing the ball to Adrian Petersen who at the team was both the leading rusher in the league and a proven red zone threat. The fact that he is no longer on the team will probably also have an impact this issue. To what extent we do not know.

That last point is another reason why we should be careful to assume we understand patterns or tendencies with regards to the offense.

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Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:43 pm
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Post Re: Red Zone Scoring and Play Calling
mansquatch wrote:
Let me phrase it a different way:

If the OL is better, the array of plays they have to choose from is probably quite a bit larger than what we saw last year or even in 2015.


They couldn't be more aggressive with a limited number of plays?

Quote:
Also, in 2015, relying on the run to score wasn't that bad of an idea since we were handing the ball to Adrian Petersen who at the team was both the leading rusher in the league and a proven red zone threat. The fact that he is no longer on the team will probably also have an impact this issue. To what extent we do not know.

That last point is another reason why we should be careful to assume we understand patterns or tendencies with regards to the offense.


I guess I just don't see a need for caution in that regard. The patterns and tendencies are easily identifiable. We can see them. Nobody is saying they are immutable.


Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:29 pm
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