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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Teddy Bridgewater: Vikings offense puts OTA focus on situations

By Andrew Krammer

MINNEAPOLIS — A defensive surge in critical moments fueled the Vikings’ leap to division champions last season.

Naturally, the offense’s focus during this Organized Team Activity period has been improving in their own key opportunities, according to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

“Throughout OTAs we’ve been learning how to practice,” Bridgewater said Thursday. “And just understanding the different situations and understanding how important situational football is. It’s been our focus so far in OTAs and I think we’ve been doing a good job for the most part.”

Vikings players should be well versed in game situations as head coach Mike Zimmer’s pop quizzes are often referenced from team meetings. He’ll call on players about in-game responsibilities (theirs or not) or a coaching decision based on different circumstances. So the Vikings’ vast improvement in two areas — third downs and red zone — shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. Zimmer inherited the league’s worst scoring defense two years ago. In that short span, they’ve ranked 11th and jumped to fifth last season in points allowed as NFC North winners.

The defense allowed the second-fewest points per red-zone trip (4.21) in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. The Vikings also ranked fifth by allowing just over a one-third conversion rate on third downs (34.5%), up from 20th (42.2%) the season prior.

The offense went the other direction, settling for more field goals. They lead the league in three points per drive while falling to 25th in touchdowns per red-zone drive (.500). That’s down from 15th (.538) the season prior. They also regressed slightly on third downs, down one point to a 38% conversion rate.

At the NFL scouting combine in February, Zimmer’s initial vision for changes to the offense addressed a predictability problem. One example includes first downs, when the Vikings often ran the ball under center to Adrian Peterson, who led the league with 327 carries while favoring the quarterback in front of him instead of shotgun or pistol formations.

“I want do to something really well,” Zimmer said. “Right now we didn’t do anything really well. We ran the ball decent, and we didn’t turn the ball over. I want to do something really well, whatever that is and how it shakes out. There’s times you want to get in the gun on first and second down, but you gotta be able to run the ball out of it. You can’t just throw the ball when you’re in the gun.

“Then when you get under center, it’s the same thing. You can’t just hand the ball off, you have to have some solid play-action passes and you have to have some movement passes and you have to have some dropbacks. I think we need to package things a little bit more so that everything is together.”

To find the right mix, the Vikings shook up the staff and the personnel with two veteran hires in Pat Shurmur and Tony Sparano, as well as the additions of guard Alex Boone and receiver Laquon Treadwell. While Peterson, the game’s most dominant runner, has said he’s focused on improving his patience, allowing plays to develop while running out of the gun.

However they get there, they want more sevens instead of threes to boost what was already a winning formula last season.

“We’ve added some pieces and can’t wait to get going,” Bridgewater said. “It’s June and we’ve got a long way to go. We’ll continue to build chemistry, get better as a team and we’ll see from there.”

The post Teddy Bridgewater: Vikings offense puts OTA focus on situations appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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