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.”
Tags: Antoine Winfield, Darrell Bevell, Leslie Frazier
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