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Will Grant Be The Streak Stopper?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 30, 2009 – 2:55 pm

The Vikings defense is in the middle of an impressive streak – it’s been 26 games since a RB has gained 100 yards in one game against the Williams Wall and Co.

That last RB to register a 100-yard game against the Vikings? Green Bay’s Ryan Grant, who rushed for 119 yards and 1 TD on 25 carries back in Week 10 of the 2007 season. And of course you know Grant and the Packers will visit the Vikings this week on Monday Night Football.

Aside from defeating the Vikings at home, on Monday Night Football and with Brett Favre under center, the Packers might like nothing more than to end the Vikings impressive streak.

Going back even further than Grant’s 100-yard game in 2007, you have to go back to Week 17 of the 2006 season to find the next RB to rush for 100 against the Vikings. Steven Jackson had a good day, rushing for 142 yards and 3 scores on 25 carries.

Let’s go one step further. At the risk of getting ahead of ourselves here, it would be a fun storyline to follow if the Vikings make it to Week 6 without allowing a 100-yard rusher. The Baltimore Ravens come to town that week, and they currently hold the longest streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher (37). It would be fun to watch Adrian Peterson go up against the Ravens and their impressive streak and then have Baltimore try and counter with C Matt Birk and the 3-headed rushing attack of La’Ron McClain, Willis McGahee and Ray Rice.


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Lambeau Rodgers or Metrodome Rodgers?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 30, 2009 – 10:54 am

Much of the hype surrounding Monday night’s Vikings-Packers game will center around Vikings QB Brett Favre. After 16 years of suiting up for the green and gold to battle the Vikings, Favre will now wear purple and gold and try to defeat the Packers.

But there’s another QB in the game whose performance will help determine the outcome of the game – Aaron Rodgers. In 2 games against the Vikings last year, Rodgers couldn’t have had 2 different kinds of starts.

In Lambeau, he was efficient and productive while leading Green Bay to a 24-19 season-opening win on Monday Night Football. Rodgers was 18 of 22 that evening for 178 yards and 1 TD. He had a passer rating of 115.5, was sacked 0 times and even had 8 carries for 35 yards and 1 TD.

In the Metrodome 9 weeks later, Rodgers wasn’t nearly as good. He completed 15 of 26 passes for 142 yards with 0 TDs. His passer rating was just 72.9, he had only 1 rush for 1 yard and he was sacked 4 times. On top of all that, he was responsible for 2 safeties, one via penalty and another when DE Jared Allen ran him down in the endzone. The Vikings won 28-27 along the way to winning the NFC North title.

Standing near his locker on Tuesday, Vikings DT Kevin Williams was asked about Rodgers. He pointed out the differences in Rodgers 2 starts, and said it was clear that the QB was much more comfortable in Week 1 last year than he was later in the season at the Metrodome.

Now that they have 2 games of experience against him, Williams said the Vikings defense should be more prepared and will have a plan of attack.

“That first game last year, we didn’t know what to expect and didn’t realize he could run so well,” Williams said. “We’re going to keep that in the back of our mind and keep him under wraps like we did in the second game; keep him in the pocket and make him throw it.”


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Updated: Vikings Tweak Roster – Add WR Perretta

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 29, 2009 – 3:01 pm

UPDATE: WR Vinny Perretta has also been added to the practice squad.

The Vikings on Tuesday made a series of roster moves involving both the 53-man roster and the practice squad.

Here are the moves the Vikings made:

– C Kory Lichtensteiger was waived from the 53-man roster
– C Jon Cooper (by player) and WR Nick Moore (by club) were terminated from the practice squad roster
– Cooper was signed to the 53-man roster
– OT Patrick Brown was signed to the practice squad


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A Word on 3rd Down

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 29, 2009 – 1:05 pm

In a game with as thin a winning margin as there was in Sunday’s Vikings-49ers contest at the Metrodome, there are likely several factors that, if changed even slightly, could’ve resulted in the opposite outcome occurring.

You can’t help but point to 3rd downs as one factor from last Sunday.

The Vikings did not allow San Francisco to convert one 3rd down in the game, forcing the 49ers to go a crippling 0-11. According to Stats, Inc. (and passed along to me by Jeff Anderson of the Vikings PR department), the Vikings hadn’t held an opponent to zero 3rd down conversions since 12/6/98 against Chicago (they did it twice in 1998 – 11/8 vs. New Orleans was the other time). Even more impressive is that since the 2000 season, NFL teams have held opponents to zero 3rd-down conversions just 30 times.

The Vikings offense, meanwhile, converted 10 of 20 third-down tries against San Francisco, increasing their 3rd down conversion rate for the season to 42.2%, which is 9th best in the league.

Since the Vikings ranked just 19th in 3rd down conversion rate in 2008, I thought a quick analysis of the team’s success in that area was in order.

I can’t tell you how many times, after the amazing Brett Favre-to-Greg Lewis-TD to beat San Francisco, I’ve heard someone say “That’s why the Vikings signed Favre.” And I can’t disagree, that play is certainly an example of the magic and “never out of it” style that Favre brings to his team.

But it seems another area where Favre will help improve the Vikings is on 3rd downs. As stated above, the Vikings are already up to 9th in the NFL on 3rd downs after finishing 19th last year. A big reason behind the improvement is Favre, who has a passer rating of 99.2 and 2 TDs on 3rd down. Fittingly, Favre’s game-winning TD strike to Lewis on Sunday came on a 3rd down.

Going even deeper, and as pointed out to me by my buddy and Vikings PR maven Evan Koch, Favre’s favorite targets on 3rd down have been WR Percy Harvin and RB Chester Taylor, who have 8 third-down receptions a piece. Harvin leads the team in receiving yards with 128, and 84 of those receiving yards (72.7%) have come on 3rd down (so has 1 of his 2 TDs). Also, 88.9% of Taylor’s receiving yards this year have come on 3rd down.


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Familiar Opponent With A New Twist

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 29, 2009 – 9:13 am

On Monday night at the Metrodome, a pair of teams who are very familiar with one another will renew their rivalry. For the 7th time since becoming head coach of the Vikings, Brad Childress will face NFC North rival Green Bay.

In the 7 games Childress and Packers coach Mike McCarthy have coached against one another since 2006, each man and his staff has gotten familiar with the opposing personnel. But there’s an added twist for each team in their preparations for this season’s pair of games.

The Packers defense will go to work against a man who led the Green Bay offense for 16 seasons – Brett Favre.

“I’m curious to see what he’s doing, what they’re asking him to do, how he’s playing with the new skill-position players that he’s with,” McCarthy said, according to Packers.com.

On the Vikings side of things, Childress and his offensive staff will have to deal with learning how Green Bay runs their new 3-4 defense. Previously, the Packers employed the 4-3 as their base defense. But with Dom Capers added during the offseason as defensive coordinator, Green Bay made the switch to the 3-4.

Although the Vikings faced 3 preseason opponents who run the 3-4 as well as 2 regular season opponents who also run the scheme (Cleveland and San Francisco), there is still learning to be done because each team runs the 3-4 a little bit differently.

“The most interesting thing is to see how Dom (Capers) is playing his version of the 3-4,” Childress said when addressing his team’s preparation strategy for Monday’s game. “He is a little bit out of the Pittsburgh mold in terms of his fire storm stuff. He and Dick LeBeau worked together before and so he was up close and personal when it first started. I am anxious to get in there and look at it.

“From that standpoint there is no familiarity, just because it is a completely different scheme. The personnel, some are the same. (Aaron) Kampman is playing a different position, playing standing up. You are familiar with the guy, but not what they are asking him to do right now.”


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Childress: “A Good Team Win”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 28, 2009 – 3:57 pm

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress, less than 24 hours after his team completed a remarkable come-from-behind win to move to 3-0, held his usual day-after-the-game press conference on Monday and was measured in his reflective comments. He was clearly pleased with the way his team performed but he also pointed out that there’s plenty of work to be done.

“Really a good team win,” Childress said. “At the same time, all of us are aware that at 3-0, they don’t crown any champions at the end of September. I just point to where we were at record-wise last year right about now. Everything is a work in progress.”

Childress said his team has “a ton of things to clean up” in all 3 phases of the game but that the players are willing to do what it takes to improve.

“Our guys are amenable to that (improving),” Childress said. “It’s a long season but they want to get it right and as long as they have that mentality, we’re going to remain a good football team.”

After reflecting on the 49ers game, Childress quickly indicated the team’s focus is now on the upcoming game against the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.

“Don’t know if I’ve ever been involved with a come-from-behind like that with no timeouts, but certainly a bunch of guys made plays, including the offensive linemen, who were able to do a great job protection-wise coming back down the field,” Childress explained. “Like I said, team win, we’ll take it, we’ll move on, we’ll get back going on Green Bay here this afternoon.”


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Submit Your vikings.com Mailbag Questions!

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 28, 2009 – 2:55 pm

Don’t forget to submit your questions/comments to the vikings.com Mailbag, which will be published ever Friday during the regular season.

You can submit your question/comment to me by sending an email to wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. I can’t post every question/comment, but I’ll answer them all.

You can check out last week’s vikings.com Mailbag feature by clicking here.


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A Few Things To Watch During Childress Press Conference

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 28, 2009 – 12:00 pm

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress will hold his usual day-after-the-game press conference today at 12:30, and you can watch it live on vikings.com by clicking here.

Here are a few issues I’ll be anxious to hear Childress address:

– Vikings RB Adrian Peterson had a workman-like day on Sunday, rushing for 85 yards on 19 carries for a 4.5-yard average. He didn’t have a signature, highlight-reel run, but the 4.5-yard average is solid and the 19 attempts helped balance out Brett Favre’s 46 pass attempts. At the same time, if you take away the 35-yard burst, Peterson’s stat line all of a sudden becomes concerning. I think the 49ers did a nice job of containing Peterson overall. So, I’ll be interested to see if Childress provides a little insight into what happened to cause this and what the Vikings will do to improve.

– The crowd was loud yesterday in the Metrodome, and I’m sure it was a factor in some of the San Francisco penalties and timeouts. It was also a factor, perhaps, in how the Vikings defense played. Childress has complimented in the past Vikings fans and their ability to make the Metrodome a hard place to play for opponents, and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear him do it again today.

– The blocked FG at the end of the 1st half was a huge play for San Francisco. It yielded a 10-point turnaround and definitely changed the dynamics of the game. Aside from diagnosing the particular error and who was responsible, it’ll be interesting to hear Childress’ perspective on how that changed the game.

– After Jared Allen’s strip-sack on the 1st play of the game, the Vikings didn’t generate much of a pass rush and in fact didn’t tally another sack during the game. San Francisco, meanwhile, was after Favre all day. I’m sure Childress will get into a discussion with reporters about where the blame lands for certain sacks – the QB holding the ball, receivers not getting open and thet line not protecting.


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Longwell Continues Clutch Kicking

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 28, 2009 – 10:35 am

Even though one of his kicks yesterday resulted in a San Francisco TD and negative 10-point swing right before halftime, K Ryan Longwell’s performance was once again instrumental in the outcome of a Vikings game.

In 8 seasons as a member of the Packers, Longwell became the franchise’s all-time leading scorer and tipped the scale in favor of the Packers against the Vikings several times. But then he came to Minnesota as a free agent in 2006 and his prolific career has continued to be, well, prolific.

Longwell ranks 3rd in Vikings history with 6 game-winning FGs and his 50-yarder yesterday puts him in a tie with Fuad Reveiz for most 50-yard FGs in team history (8). Although neither of his 2 FGs from yesterday are considered game-winners, they were still vital to the Vikings winning effort.

Longwell came on to salvage scoring drives twice in the 1st half. He was true from 40 yards early in the 2nd quarter to give the Vikings a 10-point lead. Then, later in the 2nd quarter after a solid punt return and a couple of fortuitous penalties, Longwell came on to split the uprights on a crucial 50-yard try to increase the lead to 13-7.

The Vikings eventually went on to win 27-24, so a couple of 1st half FGs clearly made a difference for the Vikings. And the Vikings are used to Longwell making a winning difference. Longwell is now 54 of 56 from inside 45 yards since joining the Vikings in ’06. Both of those misses are actually blocks. He’s also made 34 straight tries from inside 40 yards, which is a Vikings record.

Longwell ranks 19th all-time with 302 career FGs and 20th in all-time scoring with 1,398 points.


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Harvin Has The Explosive Touch

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 28, 2009 – 8:18 am

Vikings WR/KR Percy Harvin continues to have a profound impact on the Vikings during his rookie season. He made it on the highlight reel again this week with an electric 101-yard kickoff return for a TD in the 3rd quarter.

Harvin’s TD return was significant on a few levels, but perhaps most importantly because it provided a counter-punch to San Francisco’s early 2nd half FG that increased their lead to 17-13. At the time of Joe Nedney’s 37-yard FG, the 49ers had scored 17 of the game’s previous 20 points. But Harvin’s 101-yard return neutralized the momentum San Francisco had generated.

The return also marked Harvin’s 3rd TD in as many games, making him the only rookie other than Felix Jones in the past 5 years to score a TD in his first 3 games. Harvin added 4 receptions for 51 yards, increasing his average yards per reception to 10.7.

Through 3 games, Harvin has 27 total touches for 514 yards and 3 TDs. That averages out to 19.03 yards per touch. The 22nd overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft has gained 10+ yards on 20 of his 27 touches and is now averaging 35.8 yards per kickoff return.


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