Around the NFL  

 

Vikes' Rudolph: We 'didn't have an identity' on offense

Print

The Minnesota Vikings fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo on Tuesday after the team's latest offensive flop.

Minnesota has totaled 300 yards of total offense in four of its last five games, averaging 15.6 points per game over that span.

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday the Vikings had lost their identity in recent weeks.

"I think it was public throughout the last month. The frustrations we were having on offense, we weren't sustaining drives, we weren't staying on the field converting third downs. We weren't running the football enough. We really didn't have an identity," Rudolph said. "But then you go back a short two weeks ago, and we played really well on Sunday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers. We spread the ball around to all our playmakers. We moved the ball up and down the field. And then we got away from that the last couple weeks. Definitely could sense a frustration from everybody on offense, especially last night."

It's an oversimplification to simply say the Vikings need to run the ball more. With playmakers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs on the outside and a poor offensive line, the quick passing game is Minnesota's strength. Teams throw the ball to get a lead, and run to close games out.

One issue under DeFilippo was situational game management. Too often in third-and-short the Vikings opted to pass instead of run for a first down. As we saw Monday night, the results were not good (2 of 10 on third down versus the Seahawks).

"It's one thing, converting third-and-long in this league is really hard, but we had a lot of third-and-manageable last night that we weren't able to execute on," Rudolph said. "That's what it always comes down to. No matter what the play call is, no matter what's asked of us, we have to go out and execute as players and that's where we came up short. Unfortunately, that cost somebody their job today because we didn't execute well enough."

Rudolph said the players must take ownership of the struggles and can't expect a spark magically to happen after DeFilippo's firing.

"As a guy on offense, I feel terrible for Flip that we didn't do enough for him to keep his job," Rudolph said. "Bottom line is the players are the ones out there on Sundays or Monday night and we didn't execute well enough for him to keep his job. I feel bad for him. I wish we could have done better. With that being said, they felt like it was time to make a change."

It's fair and natural for players to blame themselves. DeFilippo, however, also shoulders much of the culpability. Aside from getting pass-happy for stretches, DeFilippo bizarrely went away from play-action, one area quarterback Kirk Cousins excels.

The Vikings used play-action on just 18.6 percent of dropbacks (seventh-lowest in NFL) this season under DeFillippo, per Pro Football Focus. Minnesota used play-action on 27.8 percent of dropbacks with Pat Shurmur as the offensive coordinator in 2018 (second-highest in NFL). Cousins has been one of the best QBs in the NFL on play-action passes since he became a starter in 2015. Cousins has thrown 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions with a 113.0 passer rating on play-action, ranking first in completion percentage (72.2), second in yards per attempt (10.0) and second in passer rating on such plays.

Minnesota, still clinging to a playoff spot at 6-6-1, hopes canning DeFilippo lights a fire down the stretch.

"Something has to spark this offense here in the last three weeks," Rudolph said. "If the season ended yesterday, we'd be in the playoffs, so we still control our own destiny. The bottom line is we do have to change on offense, and we've got to go out and score some more points. Our defense played so well last night. It's a shame that we weren't able to capitalize on that effort."

Print