Frazier Mindful Of Packers Explosive Passing Game

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 29, 2009 – 5:05 pm

Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said on Thursday that he wishes it was Adrian Peterson rushing 51 times and Brett Favre throwing 18 passes instead of the other way around against the Steelers last week.

While the Vikings preferred mode of operation is to establish the run and then just keep running it, the Packers have a different thought in mind. And considering how explosive their passing offense can be, one can’t blame them for preferring the air over ground.

Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers already has 24 passes of 20-plus yards, which ranks him tied for the 5th in the NFL. Of the QBs above him, all but 1 (Drew Brees) have played in 7 games compared to Rodgers’ 6.

Rodgers’ top targets are his starting WRs – Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. While it was Jennings who emerged last year with 1,292 receiving yards and 9 TDs, it’s Driver who has led the way this season.

Driver, a favorite target of Favre’s when he was wearing green and gold, currently ranks tied for 3rd among all NFL offensive players with 9 receptions of 20+ yards. In addition, Jennings averages 44.8 yards per 20+-yard reception.

“They’ve had a lot of explosive plays this season,” Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier explained. “We have to be mindful of it and we have to be able to defend those deep balls with Jennings and Driver.”

Last week against the Steelers, the Vikings gave up a 40-yard TD to rookie WR Mike Wallace and another 45-yard reception to WR Santonio Holmes. Those 2 plays represent an area in which the Vikings defense has struggled this year – giving up the big passing play.

The Vikings have allowed 27 receptions of 20+ yards, more than any other team in the league. On top of that, 7 of their 10 TD passes allowed have been of the 20+-yard variety, which is 4th highest in the NFL.

With a trip to Lambeau for a battle against an explosive passing game such as the Packers, Frazier’s bunch must improve in this area. But there’s reason to expect Frazier’s group will find a way to neutralize Rodgers and the Packers passing offense.

After allowing Ravens QB Joe Flacco to accumulate 385 passing yards in Week 6, most of them after CB Antoine Winfield left the game with a foot injury, Frazier and his unit turned around the next week without their star CB and held Pittsburgh’s passing offense to just 175 yards.

In addition, the Vikings held Driver and Jennings to a combined 86 yards on 7 receptions in the Vikings and Packers first meeting back in Week 4.

Frazier said on Thursday that aside from being in the proper position and executing the proper technique in coverage, the Vikings must also improve on one other area.

“And tackling; we’ve got to tackle if they make a catch,” Frazier emphasized. “You don’t want a 15-yard in or a 6-yard slant to be a 30-yard completion. You just make the tackle and give us a chance to play the next play and we’ll be fine.

“That’s what we’re emphasizing with our guys; no plays over the top.”

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Vikings-Packers Game No. 1 On NFL Ticket Exchange’s Buzz Index

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on October 29, 2009 – 3:46 pm

According to a press release issued by Ticketmaster, the Vikings-Packers game this Sunday is this week’s No. 1 matchup on NFL Ticket Exchange’s “Buzz Index,” which utilizes a proprietary algorithm incorporating site traffic, ticket demand, sales volume and ticket revenue to calculate each game’s popularity for the week.

*According to the NFL Ticket Exchange “Buzz Index”
1.    Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
2.    Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens
3.    Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys
4.    Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints Tickets
5.    Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

For more, click here.

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Berrian, Henderson Limited; Harvin Sits

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 29, 2009 – 3:25 pm

There were some changes to the Vikings injury report on Thursday. WR Bernard Berrian (hamstring) and LB E.J. Henderson (knee) were non-participants on Wednesday but both were back on the field Thursday and limited in practice. WR Percy Harvin, meanwhile, practiced yesterday but did not participate today because of an illness.

Other Vikings who were limited: QB Brett Favre (hip), LB Jasper Brinkley (hamstring), LB Ben Leber (calf), CB Karl Paymah (quad), WR Darius Reynaud (hamstring) and FB Fahu Tahi (knee).

CB Antoine Winfield (foot) did not practice and DT Jimmy Kennedy (not injury related), who did not practice yesterday, was back today.

For the Packers, TE Jermichael Finley (knee), S Derrick Martin (hamstring) and C/G Jason Spitz (back) were held out for the 2nd consecutive day. T Chad Clifton (ankle), however, was limited and practiced for the 2nd consecutive day. Other limited participants on Thursday included QB Aaron Rodgers (foot), CB Charles Woodson (hip) and DE Jarius Wynn (hamstring).

FB Kory Hall (calf) and WR Jordy Nelson (knee) are listed as out while LB Clay Matthews, C Scott Wells (not injury related) and G Josh Sitton (hand) were full participants.

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Wrapping Up And Putting Away The 3-4 Defense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 29, 2009 – 12:38 pm

As the Vikings finish up the first half of their schedule this weekend in Green Bay, they might also be finishing up their battles against the 3-4 defensive scheme. Beginning in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns and continuing this week with the Packers, the Vikings have faced a 3-4 defense in 6 of the first 8 weeks of the season.

The scheme doesn’t necessarily add another level of difficulty – if it did then everyone would use it – but it does present unfamiliar looks for the Vikings, who don’t typically face the scheme as much.

“We’ve played quite a few in a row,” Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said on Thursday. “But obviously when you play that many in a row you get better at it, you get used to seeing it.”

Just as it is with facing different 4-3 schemes across the league, the 3-4 scheme has several different versions and each team presents its own set of challenges for opposing offenses.

“Each team presents different issues with their 3-4 and how they run it,” Bevell explained. “What type of guys they have on the edge, what type of big guys they have in the middle, if they reduce the front or not. Again this is a stout one that we’re playing (this week).”

Earlier in the week, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress described the Packers version of the 3-4 as more of a “New England” 3-4 – likening it to the Patriots scheme – as opposed to a “Pittsburgh” 3-4, which current Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers has familiarity with from his time with the Steelers.

So even though the Vikings saw a 3-4 scheme against Baltimore in Week 6 and Pittsburgh last week, what the Purple sees this week could be significantly different.

One element in the Packers 3-4 scheme is a look that includes 5 LBs on the field at the same time, a tactic they’ve used periodically this year. Against the Vikings in Week 4, Green Bay also used their nickel package to matchup with the Vikings 2-TE, 2-WR look, not a common tactic to use against such a heavy offensive set.

Another factor for the Vikings to consider is the way Green Bay will utilize one of their best defenders, Aaron Kampman. In Week 4, Kampman was relatively quiet against the Vikings, registering just 5 tackles but not a sack or pass defensed. In order to free him up against the Vikings this week, Green Bay may try a different tactic.

“I think they’re rushing him more, letting him put his hand in the dirt,” Bevell said when asked if he’s noticed any difference in how Green Bay has used Kampman since Week 4. “Get back to rushing the passer, which I think is helping him.”

To sum it up, Childress said, the Vikings challenge this week is to be prepared for anything the Packers might throw their way.

“(There are) no articles of war,” Childress acknowledged. “I don’t have any illusions. They could play their five-linebacker thing that we thought we would see that they played the week before against St. Louis. That could be the flavor of the day this week. So you have to prepare for all.”

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Tight Finishes Fuel Vikings-Packers Rivalry

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 29, 2009 – 11:32 am

The Vikings and Packers have one of the NFL’s most heated rivalries, largely because of their proximity to one another and the sheer number of times they’ve gone head-to-head. Border rivals since 1961, the Vikings-Packers have met 98 times, tied for the most games the Vikings have played against any opponent.

But also feeding this rivalry, especially as of late, is the gut-wrenching and fingernail biting games these teams have had. In the previous 24 matchups (1998-2009), including the 2004 Wild Card playoff, the series has been remarkably even with a combined score of 568-564 in favor of Minnesota. The average scores of those games have been 23.7 (Vikings) and 23.5 (Packers).

On top of that, 13 of the past 15 games have been decided by one score or less, including a 30-23 Vikings victory earlier this year and a tight 28-27 contest last season. The Vikings and Packers have gone to overtime on 5 occasions in this series, which is the most by the Vikings against any single opponent.

“I think that they have a great defense and every time we play them they bring out their best and we bring out our best, so it is going to be a battle,” Packers WR Donald Driver told Twin Cities reporters on Wednesday. “It is going to go down to the wire. That is how it always goes down. It is going to come down to a touchdown or a field goal. We just hope that we are going to execute and make the plays that we need to make.”

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Favre’s Return / Vikings vs. Packers Preview Videos

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on October 29, 2009 – 9:14 am has many videos related to both Brett Favre’s return to Lambeau Field on Sunday and the Vikings-Packers game in general.  To make it easy for fans to find them all, we’ll update this blog post as the week rolls on with links to each.

November 1, 2009

NFL Network: The Real Favre

NFL Total Access: Packers-Vikings Picks

October 30, 2009

NFL Network Favre Interview Excerpt

Best of Favre As A Viking So Far

NFL Network Playbook: Vikings vs. Packers

NFL Network: Will The Vikings Win Sunday?

Favre: ‘We Both Cried’

October 29, 2009

Vikings-Packers Preview from NFL Films

Peterson Thursday Press Conference (Full)

Peterson Thursday Press Conference (Highlights)

Weather Update – Vikings at Packers

MIN / GB Beat Writers Discuss Sunday’s Game

October 28, 2009

Favre Wednesday Press Conference (Full)

Favre Wednesday Press Conference (Highlights)

NFL Network’s Sterling Sharpe Discusses Vikings-Packers

NFL Networks’ Steve Mariucci Sits Down With Favre

Inside the NFL: How Will Lambeau Welcome Favre?

NFL Network Report: Favre’s Homecoming

Top 10 Favre Moments As A Packer

How Will Favre Handle Green Bay?

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Packers Secondary A Better Unit With Bigby

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 29, 2009 – 8:26 am

While the availability of Packers LT Chad Clifton for this Sunday’s game against the Vikings remains uncertain, another Packers player who was not in the lineup during the Week 4 Vikings win over Green Bay is certain to suit up after recovering from an injury.

Starting S Atari Bigby, who suffered a knee injury during the season opener and missed the next 3 games, returned to the lineup last week against the Cleveland Browns and recorded 4 tackles and 1 pass defensed. He was not listed on this week’s injury report.

Bigby has struggled with injuries during his career, missing 9 games in 2008 with a shoulder injury and then the 3 games already this year. But when he is in the lineup, Bigby makes a difference. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month in December of 2007, recorded 7 tackles, a forced fumble and a pass defensed in his 1st career playoff game and also had an interception against the Vikings last year in the season opener.

Aside from a nose for the ball, Bigby is also known as an excellent tackler and fierce hitter. Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress was asked about Bigby’s presence in this game and what it means to the Packers, especially considering Bigby wasn’t able to play in the first Vikings-Packers game this year.

“Well I think they are a different team,” Childress said of the Packers with Bigby in the lineup. “Atari is a good player. He has a bunch of experience. He’s a proven hammer in the run game. It allows Nick Collins to get back in center field and not have to play up by the line of scrimmage as much because Atari kind of takes that role for them.”

In the 3 games Bigby has played this season, the Packers are allowing 139.3 passing yards per game. In the 3 games Bigby has missed this season, Green Bay has allowed 208.6 yards per game.

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The Vikings Dynamic Duo

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 29, 2009 – 6:59 am

Since Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress began his tenure in Minnesota, the Vikings have boasted the league’s 2nd best rushing attack, rushing for 7,631 yards over 55 games. RB Adrian Peterson has paced this production since his rookie season in 2007, leading the NFL with 3,788 rushing yards and 30 TDs.

But this year the Vikings offensive production has been anything but a 1-man band. The Vikings have displayed an efficient and productive passing offense to pair with their dominating ground attack.

The Vikings rank 8th in passing offense and tied for 7th in passing TDs. And it’s been a dynamic duo for the Vikings that has allowed them to execute this offensive balance.

Peterson and WR Sidney Rice are currently the most dangerous rushing-receiving duo in the NFC and the 2nd-most dangerous in the NFL. Peterson’s 687 rushing yards and Rice’s 545 receiving yards account for 1,232 of the Vikings 2,475 total yards. Only the Bengals duo of WR Chad Ochocinco (573) and RB Cedric Benson (720) has more (1,293).

The past 2 weeks have been especially productive for this duo thanks to Rice’s back-to-back 100-yard days. Against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6 and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7, Rice amassed 312 receiving yards, which is the 5th-highest total in team history for 2 consecutive games. No player in the NFL has more yards over the last weeks.

Peterson, meanwhile, is 2nd in the NFL with his 687 yards rushing and he’s averaging 5.0 yards per carry. The 2-time Pro Bowler is on pace for just under 1,570 yards rushing and 18 TDs.

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