The Vikings defense this year has been successful at taking their opponents #1 option away. Detroit’s Calvin Johnson found the endzone one time in Week 2, but outside of that score every other team’s #1 offensive threat has been held scoreless by the Vikings.
WR Braylon Edwards, who caught 5 passes for 64 yards and a TD this week only days after being traded to the New York Jets, was playing for the Browns in Week 1 against the Vikings and was held to just 1 catch for 12 yards. San Francisco’s Frank Gore was injured early in the game and wasn’t a factor in Week 3, the Packers WR duo of Donald Driver and Greg Jennings combined for just 7 receptions and 86 yards in Week 4 and then Rams RB Steven Jackson was held out of the endzone in spite of 21 attempts last week.
But the Vikings ability to neutralize the opposing team’s #1 option has come with some collateral damage. On average over the first 5 games, the Vikings are allowing opposing TEs to catch 7.8 passes per game and 4 of the Vikings 7 passing TDs allowed have been caught by TEs.
“You got to decide what you are going to take away,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said. “We don’t want to concede anything. You’re not conceding it. You’re still defending a play, but people have done a nice job of finding that guy (their tight end).”
The success of opposing team’s TEs is not an indictment of the Vikings pass defense. The Vikings are tied for 5th in the NFL with 6 INTs and they lead the league in sacks with 18.0. But it is an area that needs to be cleaned up a bit, especially with a talented TE named Todd Heap coming to town with Baltimore this weekend.
Heap is a 9-year veteran out of Arizona State and he has 395 career receptions for 4,511 yards and 32 TDs. So far in 2009, Heap is 2nd on the team with 21 catches and he also has a pair of scores.
“I expect to see him a good bit,” Childress said of Heap. “He is a good player. He doesn’t have to play standing next to a tackle. They can open him up. He is one of those kinds of guys they can displace. They also have L.J. Smith there from Philadelphia who has the ability to be able to displace as well as play next to the tackle. So I’m sure we’ll see a good diet of those guys. They both have way above average receiving skills, too.”
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