One of the first comments Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress made during his press conference on Monday was that in reviewing his team’s win over the Lions on Sunday he was pleased to see young players contributing on special teams.
Childress didn’t go into naming names, but perhaps he was thinking of LB Kenny Onatolu, who led the team with 2 special teams tackles. Or maybe he had Jasper Brinkley or Jamarca Sanford on his mind – they each tallied a special teams stop.
One player Childress was asked specifically about was CB Asher Allen, who has contributed on special teams but has also seen more playing time on defense lately because of the injury to Antoine Winfield.
“He did a nice job yesterday in the special teams area,” Childress said of Allen. “I think he grows more confident with the snaps that he takes there. He played a pretty good amount of snaps in the nickel position. Was smart, aggressive, he gets it. He has good football instincts. He’s a good player and he’s learning from the situations that he is in and the people he is playing against.”
The fact that the Vikings are able to get their young players significant experience while also fielding an impressive 8-1 record is a good sign. The football season often turns into a war of attrition and the more guys who are able to step in and produce at a high level, the better off you are.
“We’ve had a lot of guys that have rolled through and played different positions,” Childress said. “Whether it be kickoff, whether it be as a guy playing the nickel, whether it be in the return game. We’ve had guys that have spotted in and played in a lot of different positions and that only helps Jamarca; the list goes on.
“I think that has been a huge positive, whether it’s because of somebody’s injury or whatever reason. There is no down side to playing a lot of guys and getting those guys that experience factor.”
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Key to the Vikings ability to hold the Detroit Lions to just 10 points in victory on Sunday at Mall of America Field was the pass rush, where Lions QB Matthew Stafford was on his back looking up at the Teflon sky just as often as he was looking downfield at his receivers.
“Defensively, I thought they did a great job of hitting the quarterback,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Monday of his defense. “Any time you can do that [and] make a guy move his feet, I don’t care if he’s a first-year guy or a tenth-year guy, anytime you can make him trick his feet in the pocket he’s not going to be as accurate as he’d like to be.”
Stafford completed just 29 of 51 passes on the day. The 56.8% completion rate represents a 2.5% increase over his season average but one must also consider that Stafford’s yards per pass attempt on Sunday against the Vikings was 4.4, which is more than a yard below his season average of 5.6.
The most frequent violator of Stafford’s personal space on Sunday was Vikings DE Ray Edwards, who registered 2 of the Vikings 3 sacks and hit the rookie QB a total of 4 times. As a team, the Vikings hit Stafford 13 times.
“Ray Edwards was outstanding,” Childress said. “He had a heck of a game.
“I thought he did a great job of studying the guy he was going to play against this week. He had a plan that he wanted to go in and attack that guy with.”
Edwards is on track for a career season, having already established a new season-high in sacks with 5.5 through 9 games and his 5 tackles on Sunday against Detroit have him on pace to set a new season-high in tackles as well. Childress credits a few things for Edwards’ continued development in the Vikings defense.
“He’s grown in the system,” Childress commented. “He’s a guy that does a good job taking care of himself. He’s learned. He doesn’t put the same stuff out there all of the time. He’s a high-motor guy; he makes as many chase plays as he does running over the top of the tackle or run plays or sacking the quarterback. So he’s a high-motor guy all the time, not just on his side of the field.”
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The Vikings notched their 8th win of the season on Sunday by defeating the Detroit Lions 27-10 and now possess the NFL’s 3rd best record (Indianapolis and New Orleans are 9-0).
But based on a couple of negative statistics and some of head coach Brad Childress’ comments during his postgame press conference, you don’t get the sense that this 8-1 team will be resting on its laurels as they prepare for the Seattle Seahawks this week.
At halftime, the Vikings had 302 net yards and 10 first downs. The Lions had just 125 total yards and were just 1 of 4 on 3rd down. Yet the Vikings led just 10-3.
“We didn’t do a great job of holding onto the football,” Childress said. “I thought we did a great job of moving the football up and down the field but the ball has to come with you. That is incumbent on what you are doing. We had a chance to put some distance in there and not be sweating as you go to the locker room (at halftime).”
The Vikings lost 2 fumbles in the opening 2 quarters, at least one of which took sure points off the board because RB Adrian Peterson was dashing toward the end zone when Lions CB Phillip Buchanon punched the ball from Peterson’s arms and the play resulted in a touchback for Detroit.
But there were other factors that led to lost yardage and points as well. The Vikings were penalized 6 times for 45 yards in the 1st half and 13 times for 91 yards for the whole game. In addition, Minnesota was just 2 for 6 in the red zone on the afternoon.
“The penalty thing is disturbing to me because we are really one of the least penalized teams in the League,” Childress said. “We leaked yardage today and that is disappointing.”
We’ve talked about this a couple of times here on the blog this season, but in light of yesterday’s game and Childress’ comments afterwards, it’s worth mentioning again. Some of those statistical shortcomings could be blessings in disguise.
The Vikings have an impressive 8-1 record, but you can be sure they’ll be working this week like a .500 team trying to dig itself out of a hole.
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It was back on October 29 that we first made note of the dynamic duo consisting of RB Adrian Peterson and WR Sidney Rice. At that point, the 2 players had combined for 1,232 of the Vikings 2,475 (49.8%) total yards of offense.
Since that time, the Peterson/Rice duo has not slowed down and they reached another milestone on Sunday. For the 2nd time this season, the dynamic duo set a new team record for most yards by a rushing and receiving tandem in a single game, breaking the mark of 319 yards that they set on 10/18 against the Baltimore Ravens with a 334-yard joint effort against the Lions.
Peterson atoned for 143 total yards (133 rushing, 10 passing) while Rice registered 201 receiving yards. As a team, the Vikings tallied 492 yards, giving the Peterson/Rice duo 70% of the Vikings total yardage.
For the season, the Vikings dynamic duo has collectively gained 1,703 of the team’s 3,322 yards (51.2%).
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice
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