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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings film review: How the Vikings got Latavius Murray going

By Matthew Coller

It took a few games, but the Minnesota Vikings finally got the Latavius Murray they were expecting when they signed the former Oakland Raider to a three-year, $15 million contract this offseason.

After averaging under 3.0 yards per carry in each of his first six games, Murray rushed for 113 yards on 18 carries in the Vikings’ win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. While Murray did look like he had a little more burst than in previous weeks, the key to his big day was the Vikings’ scheme and execution.

When Dalvin Cook was the Vikings’ starting running back, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur focused on a zone running scheme. Cook is an incredibly patient and explosive runner, so it fit his skill set to use outside zone runs which require the running back to wait for holes to open, read the linebackers, then turn quickly up field.

Zone running doesn’t exactly fit Murray as well. He’s taller, and more of a North-and-South runner. In Oakland, he had success on power runs between the tackles. On Sunday, Shurmur dialed up power runs for Murray in heavy sets.

On this 8-yard gain early in the second quarter, the Vikings are in 22 personnel (two tight ends, two running backs). The O-line blocks left and tight end David Morgan double-team blocks with Mike Remmers to clear the defensive end. Remmers then works off the block to the middle linebacker. CJ Ham blocks out to the outside linebacker.

The result is one middle linebacker being eliminated by Remmers and the other reading a run to the left. But Murray cuts right and scammers through the hole created by Morgan and Ham.

Later in the second quarter, the Vikings pulled out a classic power run, handing off to Murray on the strong side of the formation, letting him follow Ham, who sticks the outside linebacker.

Outside of the difference with the fullback on this power run, there’s also a different blocking scheme up front. Right guard Joe Berger pulls to his left to block the middle linebacker. Right tackle Riley Reiff (with some help from Morgan) blocks right on the D-end and left guard Jeremiah sires takes the nose tackle, who is shaded off the left shoulder of the center. Once again, Morgan executes well, giving help then getting to the second level to block the inside linebacker on the right side.

The Vikings’ offensive line is stacked with smart players who can execute different types of concepts effectively, giving Shurmur all sorts of options and forcing opposing defenses to prepare for many different types of looks.

On Murray’s 35-yard carry to open the third quarter, the Vikings switched back to an outside zone run.

The line blocked left, leaving the outside linebacker untouched. Center Pat Elflein got just enough of monstrous NT Brandon Williams to open up a hole and Mike Remmers did a terrific job of getting his feet turned around to seal off No. 97.

The Vikings’ rushing attack has been at the center of their success since Sam Bradford went down with a knee injury. They are seventh in total rushing yards and ninth in yards per carry. In three games since losing Cook, Minnesota has gained 159, 112 and 169 yards on the ground. That speaks to the O-line, Shurmur’s usage and the Vikings’ running back depth.

Other notes

On a weekly basis, the Vikings’ offense has seen a number of different approaches to slowing down their attack. The Tampa Bay Bucs were eaten alive playing cover-3, while the Bears held the Vikings to mostly underneath passes playing two deep safeties. Baltimore often went single-high safety with Stefon Diggs out of the lineup. On quite a few occasions, Laquon Treadwell was 1-on-1 with no help.

On the play below, for example, Case Keenum targets Adam Thielen underneath. Treadwell was looking at man-press coverage with nobody remotely in the area. Ravens safety Eric Weddle was playing 25 yards off the line of scrimmage and safety Tony Jefferson came up into the box.

If Diggs were in the game, it would be tough to leave him 1-on1 with that much room to work.

Also, Shurmur found another way to work in a creative Kyle Rudolph screen. The Vikings lined up all three tight ends to the right, the ran play action with Rudolph showing block, then leaking out to the flat.

Here is the result…

You have to wonder if the Vikings’ running game was struggling if No. 55 Terrell Suggs would have focused on the QB instead of chasing Latavius Murray. In that case, he would have crushed Keenum.

As you can see, the Vikings have found many different ways to move the ball, resulting in the 10th best offense in yards per play. That might not have been expected without Bradford under center.

The post Vikings film review: How the Vikings got Latavius Murray going appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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