EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer spoke earlier this offseason about how he wants Minnesota's offense to be more efficient near the goal line.
Statistics back up Zimmer's point. The Vikings scored touchdowns on 14 of their 22 possessions inside the 5-yard line, which equates to a success rate of 63.6 percent.
Zimmer made those comments in February, and the Vikings kicked off free agency by signing Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers to bolster the offensive line.
The pair of new offensive linemen — as well as new running back Latavius Murray — could help the Vikings inside the 5-yard line.
In the 14 games Reiff played in last season for Detroit, the Lions had a success rate of 76.5 percent (13 of 17 possessions for touchdowns).
Remmers, meanwhile, made 16 starts and helped Carolina score 19 touchdowns in 26 possessions for a success rate of 73.1 percent.
None of this guarantees Minnesota more touchdowns near the goal line in 2017. While Reiff and Remmers might have played well, one lineman's block likely doesn't mean a score from a few yards out.
And that doesn't include the fact that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is a wrecking ball near the goal line and had five touchdown runs inside the 5-yard line.
As a team, Carolina scored 18 of its 37 offensive touchdowns inside the 5-yard line. The additional score on a possession that reached inside the 5-yard line was a 14-yard pass that overcame multiple penalties.
Murray, who was listed by the Raiders at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, has scored 13 of his 20 regular-season touchdowns on runs from inside the 5-yard line, including nine from the 1 and a pair from the 2.
Those numbers include a game against Denver last November when Murray scored three 1-yard touchdowns against the Broncos.
"Gotta have a nose for the end zone," Murray said after signing with the Vikings this week. "I was able to double my touchdowns from the last season (from six in 2015 to 12 in 2016), so I just want to continue that, obviously, and find a way to score points. Anytime you get into that end zone, you've got to take advantage if you're close."
Murray's touchdown runs:
Vs. Kansas City, Nov. 20, 2014: 11 run, 90 run
Vs. Baltimore, Sept. 20, 2015: 1 run
@ Cleveland, Sept. 27, 2015: 6 run
@ San Diego, Oct. 25, 2015: 1 run
@ Detroit, Nov. 22, 2015: 1 run
Vs. Kansas City, Dec. 6, 2015: 2 run
Vs. San Diego, Dec. 24, 2015: 22 run
@ New Orleans, Sept. 11, 2016: 6 run
Vs. Atlanta, Sept. 18, 2016: 1 run
@ Tennessee, Sept. 25, 2016: 22 run
@ Jacksonville, Oct. 23, 2016: 2 run, 9 run
Vs. Denver, Nov. 6, 2016: 1 run, 1 run, 1 run
Vs. Carolina, Nov. 27, 2016: 4 run
Vs. Buffalo, Dec. 4, 2016: 1 run, 3 run
@Kansas City Dec. 8, 2016: 1 run
@ Houston, Jan. 7, 2017*: 2 run