Digging Deeper On RB2 Situation

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 1, 2010 – 9:53 am

In a blog entry on Monday we included comments from Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress regarding the #2 RB position, with the head coach characterizing Toby Gerhart and Albert Young as “2 and 2A” (he didn’t identify who is 2 and who is 2A). Essentially Childress said that both players will be used regularly and the playing time will be determined on a game-to-game or even play-to-play basis, depending on personnel, play-calling and injury situations.

This strategy runs a bit contrary to how Vikings observers have viewed the situation all offseason. What I mean by that is media and fans have been looking for indications on who would replace Chester Taylor in the role of complementing star RB Adrian Peterson. This search including veterans (LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook), current Vikings (Albert Young) and prospective draft picks (C.J. Spiller, Jahvid Best, etc.).

Ultimately, the Vikings will use a combination of the options listed above, with Gerhart (draft pick) and Young (current player) being relied upon to fulfill the role Taylor held for the past 3 seasons. If there was any doubt that the Vikings were truly using that strategy, even after Childress explained it earlier this week, that doubt should now be erased given how offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell addressed the issue after practice on Tuesday.

“It may end up having to be by committee,” Bevell explained. “There will be times when Adrian’s in there, there will be times when Albert’s in there, depending on the game. It may have to be Toby that’s in there. We’ve been trying to go kind of like that, in terms of getting all three of them ready, seeing what the strengths and weaknesses are of all those guys. I think it’s still formulating itself right now.”

The loss of Taylor is significant, but it can also be managed and the key to managing it is something Bevell referenced on Tuesday – “seeing what the strengths and weaknesses are of all those guys.” Both Gerhart and Young are talented enough to make the Vikings roster, so the fact that it could end up taking both of them to fill the role of Peterson’s complement is not a bad thing. In fact, it gives the Vikings a great chance to develop depth at the RB position.

But the Vikings do need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each of their RBs and then deploy the players in the offense appropriately, so they are able to neutralize the weaknesses and capitalize on the strengths.

“I feel like I’m gaining a better understanding of what their strengths and weaknesses are,” Bevell acknowledged. “It was good to see Adrian pick up after the 49ers game to pick up a couple pressures last week. He was strong at the point (of attack). He did some good things there. I kind of know where Albert is. We’ve been able to move Toby in there a little bit as well. [We’re] learning their strengths and weaknesses but it may depend on how the game plan shapes up. It may depend on who’s up and down. Sometimes we only went with two backs last year and that may solve your problem.”

As my buddy Paul Allen pointed out on his show page, Young is effective in pass protection and that is on tape. And based on what Bevell said Tuesday, executing proper technique in pass protection is paramount to being Peterson’s complementary back. While it’s preferable that Peterson’s backup be a talented runner, it’s vital that the backup/3rd down back be a solid pass protector.

“The biggest thing for us, particularly with that second guy, is to be able to handle all the pressures and different looks that they can give us,” Bevell said. “Albert’s been here for a while, he’s been in (RBs) coach (Eric) Bieniemy’s meeting rooms. He’s well versed in it. That’s just half of it. You have to be physically strong enough to stand in there and take the pounding, step up and pick up a linebacker. Sometimes you’re going to be blocking a defensive end. [We have] to see if he can hold up in those situations. We know Albert’s running skills. We know Toby’s running skills. We need to see them in those other situations.”

In the end, the Vikings have the personnel necessary to get the RB2 job done. It’s a matter of the offensive staff deploying the talent effectively. Given the success of the Vikings offense, especially over the past 2 seasons, Vikings observers can be confident the RB2 job will be in capable hands.

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Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 25 Comments »

25 Responses to “Digging Deeper On RB2 Situation”

  1. By PurplePeopleEater on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    Why was Reynaud not mentioned in this article? He appears to have plenty of talent and should not be overlooked in the conpetition for #2/2A. I’ve been more impressed by Darius than either Young or Gerhart during preseason.

  2. By Cory on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    I would love to see Darius Reynaud a bit more in the 2nd RB position. He has great explosive skills and has demonstrated he can catch the ball while he was a WR.

  3. By Pat the Viking on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    I think they going to use Reynaud on special teams – to return kick-offs and punts.

  4. By Carl K on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    Mike – If the coaches don’t like Reynaud at RB why don’t they move him back to WR? It just doesn’t make sense.

  5. By Jones on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    Young should be 2nd no reynaud is not a natural back he doesn’t have that swift he needs to stay at special teams to return punts. gerhart haven’t seen much he still has work to do.

  6. By Sean C on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    How is Reynaud not a natural back that was his original position? He will be used mostly for special teams, but certainly expect him to get a couple catches in here and there lining out in the slot and in the backfield comity (also if someone is hurt). I think Gerhart is a good change of pace back, Young being the better 3rd down guy due to his pass protection skills. I don’t ever remember seeing Young dazzling me with his running ability though, I like Reynaud above them all

  7. By Mike Wobschall on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    Reynaud is in the mix at RB but I think he’s primary focus will be on returns. He’ll be a factor on offense but I’m unsure of his exact role.

  8. By secondnature815 on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    In other words, they don’t have a clue as to what to do when the vikes face a desperate situation on 3rd down. If Han Solo doesn’t come back, we’re doomed. Perhaps RB2 is actually gonna be R2D2 and C3PO will be in at wideout…..Oh, Dear!

  9. By Joe on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    Put Gerhart in late, after Adrian tires em out. Get those fresh legs in when they start arm tackling and he’ll plow right through em.

  10. By Bruce on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    PASS PROTECTION IS KEY! You want a RB with great blocking skills. I don’t care how much emphais is put on the running game, the passing game is what wins Championships. Look at the past winning teams and look at their passing quarterbacks. NO they were not Michael Vick, Tjack type QBs that won those games. They were quarterbacks that threw lots of yards and touchdowns. In the six years Vick was with the Falcons, did they win any Championships? But how many did a PASSING QB like Brady win? The Manning brothers who are known for passing won a couple as well. Peyton gets those Colts in the playoffs all the time with his passing game. I’m telling you, if you look back in the history of the NFL it was GREAT QUARTERBACKS WHO PASSED THE BALL WELL THAT WON THE CHAMPIONSHIPS! So keep the RB that can pass block! PERIOD!

  11. By kw on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    i think secondnature is on drugs

  12. By kyle on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    defense wins championships.

  13. By Bruce on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    Defense helps win Championships, you can’t win with no points

  14. By Pat the Viking on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    I hope they are working on a very complex offense that will confuse defenses by swicthing different players in and out in the back field, wide-outs and slots. and NO defense can stop it.

  15. By Bruce on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    The starters should play at least a quarter this Thursday, they don’t look ready for the Saints yet.

  16. By Dac on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    We were just catering to Taylor the past two years. Maybe slowly bringing along Peterson’s pass protecting or what have you. It is clear to me that he is ready to be an every down back. The whole RB debate is over-rated. Reynaud needs the ball more because he is a play-maker. Electric with the ball. Gerhart is a capable back as is Young. Gerhart is a better prospect simply based on pedigree. Let Peterson dominate on everydown. He can only get better. His durability will increase with more playing contrary to popular belief. Let him loose and watch him beasting. He will get nicked up but Darius and Toby are waiting in angst. That produces top performance. Peterson undoubtably runs with no regaurds so we cant question his drive. He will slip off defenders trying to just knock the ball loose and will break some big gains like the All Day I know.

  17. By PurplePeopleEater on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    I don’t understand how much more effective it would be to have a RB whose main asset is in pass protection. Isn’t that a task that can better be suited to the TE/FB position? We have plenty of guys in this category who could jump in to the fold on obvious passing downs. Kliensasser, Tahi, D’Imperio and even Dugan all are able pass blockers who can still pose the threat to roll out and catch a short dump when needed. I really don’t think that their speed/elusiveness after the catch will have considerable enough deficiencies compared to either Young or Gerhart to make a big enough difference on whehter or not we can get the needed yardage. That was a skill that Taylor had, but I really don’t see it in either of the backs being considered for the backup role.

  18. By Carl K on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    DImperio as a 3rd down option may not be a bad idea. Coach Childress has said our offense is in “FLUX”, so I don’t think we will be doing anything very complex for awhile. I think our offense will be a work in progress…until we get a good look at some of our players in different situations. The good news is we have options. The bad news is we haven’t seen our options much in our offense.

  19. By MGR4FUN on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    the good news is we are a very good football team … more good news we hav a tremendous nucleous of experience and youth with our core team … even more good news is there has been an excellent influx of quality depth by this years draft class and a few other gr8 gets (lito/camarillo/javon) … the bad news only 53 man roster and 8 practice squad positions available … some quality athletes gonna be wearin colors other than purple next week … dag-nab-it

  20. By dennis mcgonigal on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    i still say ian johnson should get a legitimate shot in the regular season opener. this guy is a great athlete. and would be a great addition in the locker room. i am from idaho (thats by utah if any of you dont know) ive seen this guy put his skills to work and he’s a true football player

  21. By jimbo92107 on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    If pass blocking is the main issue, that argues more for a guy like Ryan D’Imperio back there with Favre. Big D is fast, strong and agile, and he’s shown a really tough side on some of those runs and kick coverages. He could be Brett’s personal backfield bodyguard.

  22. By Douglas Que on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    T.J. Houshmandzadeh is available . The Seahawks are looking to get rid of him. Should the Vikings invest in him?

  23. By TWVIKE on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply


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