Vikings Special Teams Unit Thrives On Talent, Continuity

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 6, 2010 – 3:28 pm

The Vikings are often described as “a team with a lot of talent,” with names such as DE Jared Allen, QB Brett Favre, RB Adrian Peterson and DT Kevin Williams often used to justify the description. When you add in the fact that the Vikings had 10 Pro Bowlers a year ago, the description becomes even more accurate.

The names mentioned in the above paragraph are deployed primarily on offense or defense. But according to Vikings special teams coordinator Brian Murphy, his side of the ball has talent to boast of as well.

“Coach Childress, Rick (Spielman), George (Paton), Scott Studwell and those guys have done a very good job of loading our roster, not only on the front end but those guys that you play with on special teams,” Murphy explained on Monday. “We’ve upgraded every year, that talent pool. I think for the most part we’re consistent this year and have most of the guys back, which I think is a plus. But the way the 53 shook out, it’s a real credit to those guys and the work they put in to make sure every phase has their share of talent.”

Several recent Vikings draft picks have been or currently are core members of Murphy’s special teams unit. From the 2009 draft, Asher Allen, Jasper Brinkley, Percy Harvin and Jamarca Sanford all contributed significantly on special teams. Letroy Guion, Jaymar Johnson, Tyrell Johnson and John Sullivan were all taken in the 2008 draft and have been important members of the special teams unit. And from the 2007 draft you have players such as Brian Robison and even Peterson who’ve been special teams contributors over the years.

But it’s not just draft picks brought in by the Vikings personnel staff that have become key special teams players. Undrafted free agents who’ve recently joined the team and have become important special teams players include Husain Abdullah, Eric Frampton, Erin Henderson and Kenny Onatolu.

The accumulation of talent has produced more than just a long list of names who’ve remained on the Vikings roster over recent seasons. Statistics show that the Vikings have made special teams a priority when it comes to making personnel decisions. In 2008, the Vikings ranked 21st in kickoff return average allowed and in 2009 Murphy’s unit improved to 15th. The Vikings were ranked 32nd in punt return average allowed in 2008 (14.9 yards per return) and in 2009 that ranking jumped up to 12th (7.9 yards per return).

On the other end, the Vikings jumped from 20th in 2008 to 13th in 2009 in kickoff return average and they jumped from 24th in 2008 to 12th in 2009 in punt return average. Harvin earned a Pro Bowl berth as a returner last season and Heath Farwell joined him as a special teams Pro Bowler as well.

Credit goes to the Vikings personnel staff for bringing in players who’ve become special teams contributors. But credit also goes to Murphy, who has been able to take a collection of early-round draft picks, late-round draft picks and undrafted rookie free agents and turn them into a special teams unit that has improved in key areas over the last couple of seasons.

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 18 Comments »

18 Responses to “Vikings Special Teams Unit Thrives On Talent, Continuity”

  1. By Ryan on Sep 6, 2010 | Reply

    I’m telling you, put Webb back on punts.

  2. By lefty on Sep 6, 2010 | Reply

    Erin is going to be a beast this year, watch him i hope he gets playing time. Can someone tell me who did we get for Sage and D Rey ? are we going to see the guys they gave us in game 1? GO VIKES!

  3. By kw on Sep 6, 2010 | Reply

    we got draft picks

  4. By fmfan on Sep 6, 2010 | Reply

    Onatolu would be good size for a safty (6’2″ 220) with a LB mind set. Don’t know if he has the speed just a thought.

  5. By Lito on Sep 6, 2010 | Reply

    I agree with Ryan above regarding using Webb on punt returns. Use him in different situations. He is a remarkable athlete: a multipurpose, multifaceted weapon-punt/kick returns, wide receiver, special teams. Go Vikings!!!

  6. By Rogerthevikefan on Sep 6, 2010 | Reply

    A 5th and most likely a 7th.

  7. By secondnature815 on Sep 6, 2010 | Reply

    Why use Webb when we got a TJ.

  8. By Viking Joe on Sep 7, 2010 | Reply

    We may need to convert a WR this week to CB just a thought it worked in NE for awhile. NO is to fast to just put a LB or S back in coverage. Other option is play deep and run to the WR instead of tring to keep up with him. This could disrupt Bress timing long enough for Jared to do his thing or Ray.

  9. By Sheldon on Sep 7, 2010 | Reply

    I think the Vikes really blew it mwithn their trade to New York. In the past, we did really well with them, but this time, someone was asleep at the wheel. TJ should have been the one to go, no confidence anymore, and it shows. Trasding Reynaud was just plain stupid. He looked the best of the backup running backs, and could play wide receiver. If Harvin’s migraines show up during the season, kiss the playoffs goodbye. Someone needs to let Childres know that sometimes it is better to cut your losses than to keep flogging a dead horse. The man never will be much of a head coach, too much locked into his own agenda for the team. Lucky for him he has a ton of talent, and great assistants. I could win with them.

  10. By Robins on Sep 7, 2010 | Reply

    All I care about is that we win with our great team! Protect Brett, Adrian, hold on to the ball, and Jared, sack Drew, over and over, and we will win. Hopefully, the refs will call the right penalties this time. I think it is so important to win this first game! Protect Brett!

  11. By Haywood Jablomie on Sep 7, 2010 | Reply

    Stop crying about not getting any penalties called, we lost the game because of turnovers, 12 men in the huddle and another bad decision by Favre. What makes you think our O-line is better this year? It could be a bad start to a long season…we may see Webb sooner than we think.

  12. By secondnature815 on Sep 7, 2010 | Reply

    I think the Vikings should or could make a trade after Thursdays game with NO. Too late to get a player ready for the opener but with 10 days before the next game we would have enough time to get a decent player whomever that may be… what can we get for T Jack?

  13. By Caspa on Sep 7, 2010 | Reply

    BERRIAN and SHIANCOE on NBC’s Minute to Win It tonight and tomorrow night (8/7 and 8/8) at 8/7c! Check it out!

  14. By Skol_Vikings on Sep 7, 2010 | Reply

    what a bunch of negative fans you guys are — relax. Its a long season. Stop with the “OMG OMg OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMFG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG WE’RE SO TERRIBLE, WERE RUINED! WE CAN’T BLOCK (We can, the line is healthier, they just tend to wear) WE CAN’T PASS (We Can, Harvin is fine, Berrian is a decent receiver despite a preseason error, and we did sign and keep a new reciever who can fill in just fine for Rice,) FAVRES TOO OLD THE SECOND COMING OF SAGE WAS OUR ONLY HOPE, WE’RE DOOMED!!!! NO IS TOO TOUGH TO BEAT, OUR SUPERBOWL DREAMS ARE RUINED FOR ANOTHER 10 YEARS!!!!

    Can you people relax? Its week 1, no team is on all cylanders yet. Its one game, all it comes down too is 1 win or 1 loss towards the end of the regular season. Long season, anything can happen.

  15. By joann on Sep 7, 2010 | Reply

    relax, we’re in good hand Vikings…….

    Brees got a break last year- now we hve to play dirty poker, its not football , it war

  16. By rodney on Sep 8, 2010 | Reply

    OMG Skol _Vikings your right…I think the vikings want this game more then the fans…Win are Lose.There still our vikings.YOU WILL NEVER GIVE ON YOUR VIKES IF YOUR TRUE FANS.

  17. By BCHFUZ on Sep 8, 2010 | Reply

    Every Aints fan I run into I tell them their team is best to just lie down and take it. Because the MINNESOTA VIKINGS are coming! This truly is their YEAR!!!!! I’ll be up there December 5th for the Jills game wearing my Jim Marshall #70 jersey, noW theres an Iron man !!! GO VIKINGS!!!…. SKOL VIKINGS !!!!!!!!

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