Vikings investigating red zone woes

Leslie Frazier (Adam Bettcher/Getty)

The Vikings were looking for solutions to their red zone problems after starting their 38-26 loss to the Redskins with three straight field goals. Leslie Frazier said they would go through their red zone struggles "with a fine-toothed comb."

After three straight trips inside the Washington Redskins' 20-yard line that failed to produce a Minnesota Vikings touchdown to start the game, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is reviewing what the team could have done differently.

The Vikings had to settle for three field goals in those situations, taking a 9-0 lead that had evaporated into a 17-9 deficit by halftime. For the game, the Vikings were 2-for-7 scoring touchdowns in the red zone, with both of their successes coming in the fourth quarter after they had gotten behind 31-12.

"From a staff standpoint, maybe we could maybe do a couple other things that might help us in that situation if we get into that situation again, where we're first-and-10 from the 10, we might approach it a little bit different," Frazier said Monday. "After the turnover when we got down, I think we were first down and 10 from the 15 after a completion. So there were some things that we might do a little bit different in our approach, and our execution would need to be a little bit better as well."

The Vikings had a 6-0 lead nine minutes into the game when Antoine Winfield intercepted a Robert Griffin III third-down pass and set the Vikings up at the Washington 35-yard line. They advanced to first-and-10 on the 16-yard line after a 19-yard pass to Michael Jenkins, but two runs that netted no yards and a 7-yard pass to tight end John Carlson in the middle of the field left them 3 yards short of a first down and settling for their third field goal in as many drive.

They had made it to the 2-yard line and twice to the 9-yard line, but they couldn't score a touchdown and help tilt the game decisively to their advantage.

Frazier said their third series, after the Winfield interception, was the most painful of the red zone failures.

"When we got the turnover from Antoine, the emotion on our bench was like, ‘OK, this is it. We're getting ready to really put the pedal to the metal here,'" Frazier said. "When we came away with a field goal, and I know how we are on defense – after that turnover, when you keep a team to a field goal in plus territory, it's like a win. So I would imagine from their standpoint it reversed.

"Instead of us getting inflated, they were the group that got inflated from being able to hold us to a field goal. So that one because of the emotion from our team and our bench and everybody being involved, that was the one I really wanted to see us get in the end zone."

The Vikings didn't get into scoring position the rest of the half, but they started the third quarter with a drive that went 11 plays and 42 yards, but when they got to the 23-yard line, two runs and an overthrown of Percy Harvin stalled the drive at the 19-yard line and Blair Walsh had to kick his fourth field goal of the game.

Their ensuing drive made it the Washington 17-yard line, but a false start penalty on center John Sullivan was followed by a poorly thrown pass to Michael Jenkins that Redskins safety Madieu Williams intercepted.

"When that happens, when you get thwarted like we did in the red zone, you look at everything – what we're calling, the plays that we're running, how we're calling those plays. We really stress not kicking field goals and trying to get touchdowns. Even if we get one touchdown in any one of those three situations, it's probably going to affect the way they're going to call the game on the other side at that point. But it didn't happen, so, yes, we're going to go through it with a fine-toothed comb – what could we have done a little bit better."


  • Frazier had no new injuries to report from the Redskins game. He said WR Percy Harvin just had general soreness while RB Adrian Peterson battled through an ankle injury from the week before.

  • WR Jerome Simpson expects to play Sunday after being active against the Redskins, Frazier said. Simpson was dealing with a back issue that caused numbness in his leg. "I just talked with him a few minutes ago and he feels like he's going to be ready to go, told me to just watch the tape and that will prove it," Frazier said. "So, I'm looking forward to how he progresses as the week goes on."

  • Like Ponder, Frazier praised defensive lineman Everson Griffen's attitude in playing just four days after the unexpected death of his mother. The funeral is expected to be Saturday, so it remains to be seen if Griffen plays Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals at Mall of America Field.

  • OL Geoff Schwartz rotated in for 11 snaps at right guard in place of Brandon Fusco and Frazier said the Vikings will look to continue to get Schwartz some playing time. "We'll definitely keep giving him a few reps considering he didn't play last season, didn't play at all in training camp and now we're getting a chance to take a look at him," Frazier said.

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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