One of the main subplots in this weekend’s Vikings-Cowboys Divisional Round playoff game on Sunday is the matchup between Dallas’ pair of outstanding edge rushers – LBs DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer – and the Vikings bookend OTs – Bryant McKinnie and Phil Loadholt.
And that matchup shouldn’t be ignored. Ware and Spencer combined this regular season for 17.0 sacks and they already have 3.0 in the playoffs. Although McKinnie has played well this season and earned his 1st Pro Bowl appearance, he did struggle against Panthers DE Julius Peppers last month and Loadholt will be making his 1st playoff start on Sunday.
Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress acknowledged on Wednesday while meeting with reporters that the Cowboys ability to pressure from the edge is something the Vikings will need to address.
But he also indicated he and his offensive staff will be mindful of Dallas’ ability to bring pressure from the middle of the defense, too.
“With that said, a guy like (Keith) Brooking – they feature him blitzing,” Childress explained. “He does a great job of timing up his A-gap blitzes. And then I look at the nose guard (Jay Ratliff) can bring pressure any way you want it. He can walk the center back, he can make a quick move and beat you with quickness in there, and then they wave people in and have some pretty good people they can bring in the game in their nickel situations.”
There’s no denying that Dallas possesses the talent and scheme to pressure QBs and disrupt offenses. They ranked 7th in the NFL in QB sacks with 42 and they also boast the league’s 4th-ranked rushing defense, a bad statistical combination for opposing offenses.
But there are ways the Vikings can try to deny the Cowboys attempt to bring that pressure. Childress mentioned several tactics, including chipping with RBs and TEs. More important than figuring out one form of effective protection, though, is being sure to use several different tactics to keep the Cowboys defense off-balance.
“You have to mix it,” Childress said, “because people are too good if you’re only showing one kind of protection…typically they’re going to break a protection down.”
Tags: Phil Loadholt
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