How the New Orleans Saints should stop the Vikings’ play-action game
How the Vikings find success
The majority of the Vikings’ success in the passing game comes off of bootlegs, mostly because their offensive line’s weaknesses are hidden.
However, on regular play-action plays, their offensive line’s weaknesses are highlighted. As mentioned in my article on bootlegs and play-actions, pulling a guard or using some other method that makes the defense believe that it’s a run is critical for the success of play-action.
Kevin Stefanski, the Vikings’ offensive coordinator, usually does an ineffective job of selling play-action.
The following play is an illustration of this:
This was the very first play-action that I saw the Vikings use when researching.
The play is clearly a pass as the Vikings’ O-linemen drop back into their pass-blocking sets. This ‘key’ is very easy for the D-line and linebackers to pick up on, meaning that it’s pretty much just a drop-back pass; the Vikings struggle immensely when they have to drop-back and pass.
The lesson to be learned from this play is that if you read your keys successfully you will not be fooled by their play-action, and thus, it will be pretty much a straight-up battle between their O-line and the Saints’ D-line.
In this example, the Raiders’ defensive line overwhelmed the Vikings’ O-line. The Saints’ defensive line is much better than the Raiders’, so expect a lot of pressure and sacks.
By getting quick pressure like this, you take away the possibility of them beating you deep. However, there are times when Cousins will have time to throw down field, and thus the Saints’ secondary will have a role to play if they’re going to take away their explosive plays.