Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/19/11
This week, the Vikings move from the impressively efficient style of the New Orleans Saints' offense to the ordinarily average Washington Redskins. After Drew Brees and the Saints' passing offense lit up the Vikings for 573 total net yards, including 412 in the air, the Vikings' secondary that is looking for any glimmer of positive news should be able to find some success against Rex Grossman and the Redskins' 16th-ranked offense (14th passing the ball). In their 42-20 loss to the Saints, the Vikings one of the most successful teams rushing the quarterback didn't register a sack and were only credited with two quarterback hits. Brees was flushed from the pocket on a few occasions, but he extended his streak to 215 passes (five games) without an interception. The Vikings' 30th-ranked pass defense also set an NFL record by now going nine straight games without an interception and helped Brees to a nearly perfect 149.2 passer rating on 32-of-40 passing with five touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks. "Their whole scheme is really designed around that. He always has a check-down and he always has an outlet," said Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, who was stuck at 17 sacks after not getting to Brees before he released the ball. "I thought we got some good pressure at times and he just got rid of the ball. I know that I missed one by the hair of my chin and there were a couple where we had good rushes." Rex Grossman might not belong in the starting ranks of NFL quarterbacks, but he certainly doesn't warrant mention with Brees, who is completing 71.5 percent of his passes for 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and a 109.1 passer rating. Brees also has a 6.3 touchdown percentage and 1.9 interception percentage. Grossman, on the other hand, provides a start contrast. He has more interceptions (18) than touchdowns (13), is completing 58.3 percent of his passes and has a 71.4 rating. And Grossman's touchdown percentage is 3.5; he has a 4.8 interception percentage. Partly because of Brees and partly just because they are simply better, the Saints pose more receiving weapons than the Redskins, too. While New Orleans has five receivers with more than 40 receptions, the Redskins have three, and none with more than 60 receptions or 850 yards. Their main weapons were receiver Jabar Gaffney (58 catches for 842 yards) and tight end Fred Davis (59 catches for 796 yards), but Davis was suspended earlier this month for the rest of the season for a multiple failed drug tests. Even when they had Davis, it wasinteresting to see how the Redskins attack defenses. Grossman clearly trends toward the middle of the field, as Washington quarterback throw both short middle and deep middle more than any other team, even if they aren't effective there (their averages rank 29th and 21, respectively, in those two categories). While the Saints were loaded with offensive weapons in addition to Brees, the Redskins are about as average as they come on offense. They rank in the middle third of the league in numerous NFL categories, but are especially poor in rushing yards per game (29th of 32 teams) and rushing average per carry (27th). The Saints trotted out three capable runners, even with starter Mark Ingram hurt, but the Redskins have only Roy Helu with more than 500 yards (635) and an average higher than 4.0 yards (4.3). The Redskins' rushing propensity is to try to force the run outside. They have the league's second-most rushes around left end and third-most around right end, but that doesn't mean they're proficient. They are mostly average running the ball anywhere, except right up the middle, where they are particularly pedestrian, ranking 30th with a paltry 3.18-yard average. The disparity in yardage between the Saints and Redskins has also translated on the scoreboard. The Saints have the league's second-most points; the Redskins are 26th, averaging only 18 per game. Defensively, the Redskins are also amazingly average, but instead of a few bad spots like their rushing offense and interception percentage, on defense they have a couple bright spots. They are eighth in first downs allowed and they can get to the quarterback. Despite no individual Redskins defender having more than the 7 sacks registered by Ryan Kerrigan, as a whole they rank seventh in sacks per pass play and have 37 sacks as a team. That could be bad news for Vikings QB Christian Ponder, who already has taken 28 sacks in what amounts to eight full games. "The two previous games before this one, I had too many turnovers some yards but too many turnovers," the self-critical Ponder said after Sunday's loss. "This game, I had one turnover at the end but not enough yards. I just need to play a balanced game and trust myself and keep improving." The Redskins, who are no New Orleans Saints, should give him that chance if his offensive line gives him an opportunity.
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