I hate football. Let me get that out of the way, right away.
I don't understand the sport, I don't like the violence, I don't get how a sport with so much non-action time built into it could be so successful. And so on and so forth.
That being said, every now and then I'll catch a game, and due to the fact that the NFL and the Vikes are the elephants in the Minny sports room, I tend to pick up bits and pieces of Purple-related information via osmosis, whether I want to or not.
Keeping those two things in mind (my distaste [and lack of knowledge] about pro football + random knowledge about the league and the local team), please let me know if I'm off the reservation about the following line of logic:
- The NFL is well on its way (and, apparently, has been for a while) to being a pass-dominant league.
- The best way to secure victory in the NFL is to score (and limit) the most points/drive.
- What is the correlation between rushing and an effective points/drive number? Are longer, run-dominated drives more conducive to scoring more points/drive than shorter, pass-dominated ones?
- What is the stronger corollary for more points/drive: time of possession or run/pass mix?
Taking a quick look at a few of the advanced NFL sites I was able to find, it seems that teams with a high success rate on passing downs are easier to positively predict success than are teams with longer average possession times.
I bring this up because while I know very little about the NFL, I caught today's Vikings/SD game and was kind of taken aback by just how backwards the Vikes' approach seems when compared with what I have heard about the rest of the league.
The announcers (and KFAN personalities during the week) constantly talked about how in order for the Purple to be successful, they would have to use Adrian Peterson to generate long drives so that their defense stays off the field. This simply doesn't make any sense. What do long drives have to do with scoring and points/drive? Is there a stronger correlation between time of a drive and points/drive than there is, say, passing success rate or the number of snaps with an uninterrupted passing motion? (Is there such a thing as NFL advanced stats? Do the Vikings use them?)
Why on earth would you lock so much money into a guy that may not be all that important to winning in a league that appears to be moving away from the sorts of rules and play that would make a guy like Peterson effective? Football isn't like basketball where a supreme talent can dominate the action by simply imposing his will + talent. On a roster with more than 50 players, this sort of single outlay on a position that may not be highly correlated with a successful points/drive ratio seems kind of baffling.
On top of this (to me) baffling decision, I was amazed at how the Vikings' offense seemed to base their entire offensive approach off of the ground game. This seems to be a coaching philosophy. Again, does anyone know if there is any solid correlation between running efficiency and a higher points/drive number? What about stopping the run? Apparently, this has been a hallmark of the Vikes for the past few years. This sounds like a great thing but is it? Listening to the announcers and talk radio, I was surprised by the number of statements that are tossed out as football dogma that, to the untrained ear like myself, really didn't make all that much sense. Shouldn't a team's biggest investment (aside from the QB) be in the offensive and defensive lines in order to minimize or maximize passing effectiveness? Who cares about running backs? Don't they break easily, too? Why is there an obsession with time of possession? What does that have to do with points?
Looking around at the box scores of the other NFC Central teams, it seems that the Vikes not only have decided to hitch their wagon to an out-moded way of play, but they are doing it in the most modern/up-to-date division in football. One where 3 young quarterbacks toss the ball all over the field and where 2 defensive lines are built to limit the passing effectiveness (not the run effectiveness) of their opponents by large margins.
Am I misreading this as an NFL know-nothing or is the Vikings brain trust kind of clueless? (Or, are they simply super clued into the [likely true] belief that fans would revolt if they let Peterson walk?)