Sunday’s NFC North showdown at Mall of America Field features a pair of powerful defensive lines. The Vikings feature the Williams Wall and pass-rushing DEs Jared Allen and Ray Edwards, of course. The Lions acquired 3 new starters along the defensive line this past offseason in #2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams to go along with 3-year veteran Cliff Avril.
While it’s difficult to distinguish which parts of each defensive line are the most valuable, what’s clear to see is how valuable each team’s top DE is to the defense. The Vikings acquired Allen before the 2008 season and the 3-time All-Pro has responded with consecutive 14.-sack seasons. Vanden Bosch was with the Tennessee Titans for 5 seasons prior to signing in Detroit as a free agent this past offseason and he’s already been a difference maker, with 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks in his first 2 games.
Allen’s 14.5 sacks in 2009 helped the Vikings lead the league in that category with 48. But a pass-rushing DE as productive and dominant as Allen does more than just help a team tally sacks. It impacts the overall pass defense and the way coordinators are able to scheme for opposing offenses.
“I know in our case, Jared has made a tremendous difference from a pass rush standpoint and the way I call games as well,” Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “Before he arrived we were a lot more pressure (blitzing) and giving people looks. Once he arrived we were able to stay with our four-man front a little bit more and count on our four guys to rush, which helped improve our pass defense.
“It just gives you a luxury you don’t have if you don’t have a Jared Allen, one of the premier pass rushers in the National Football League. He’s made my job a lot easier and he’s made our defense better. It’s a luxury when you have a guy like that.”
Although it’s been just 2 games, it looks as if Vanden Bosch will have a similar impact on the Lions defensive line and overall defense. Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress described Vanden Bosch as a “Tasmanian Devil” earlier in the week and Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz said the improvement in his defensive line starts with Suh and Vanden Bosch; Schwartz and Vanden Bosch spent time together in Tennessee when Schwartz was the defensive coordinator there.
Schwartz points to the Vikings defensive line as a model for what the Lions are trying to accomplish.
“Go out and get a player like Jared Allen, draft a player like Kevin Williams, sign a player like Pat Williams, develop a player like Ray Edwards,” he said. “They don’t have to blitz to get pressure on the quarterback. They don’t have to get in an eight-man front to stop the run. That’s a very comforting feeling for a head coach and a defensive coordinator for that to be the case. We’re trying to build the same way.”
Tags: Jared Allen, Leslie Frazier
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The Vikings and Lions have issued their Thursday injury reports and there is little change for either team. Let’s go over the details…
WR Percy Harvin (hip) was a limited participant after missing practice on Wednesday. The “illness” designation that presumably indicates a migraine issue for Harvin was removed from Thursday’s injury report, so that is good news for the Vikings. The not-so-good news for the Vikings is that “right elbow” has been added to the injury report next to QB Brett Favre’s name. Favre was a limited participant in today’s practice but my sense is there’s isn’t serious concern at this point regarding the elbow.
Outside of the changes to Harvin and Favre, the Thursday injury report is the same as Wednesday’s for the Vikings.
There were also 2 changes to the Lions injury report on Thursday. S Louis Delmas (groin/biceps/calf) went from not practicing on Wednesday to being limited in practice on Thursday. LB Ashlee Palmer (ankle) was also limited on Thursday.
Tags: Percy Harvin
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In recent seasons there hasn’t been much similarity between the Vikings and the Detroit Lions. The Vikings have won 19 of the last 21 matchups, including 7 of 8 under head coach Brad Childress, and the Lions haven’t won in Minnesota since 1997.
On top of that, the Vikings have won back-to-back titles the past 2 seasons while the Lions have been cellar-dwellers in the NFC North.
But all of that is in the past and stands to be irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that there is a lot of similarity between the 2010 Vikings and the 2010 Lions. Both teams will enter this weekend’s contest at Mall of America Field with 0-2 records and both teams feel they aren’t far away from being 2-0.
While an 0-2 record certainly casts a shadow over the early part of a season, it’s not a cause for panic or despair. In 2009 the Tennessee Titans began the season with an 0-6 record, yet they bounced back rapidly and nearly made the playoffs.
One standout player on that Titans team was DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, who left Tennessee this past offseason and signed with Detroit via free agency. Vanden Bosch told reporters on Wednesday that all it takes to get out of an early-season funk is a win.
“All you need is a win,” the 10-year veteran said. “A win fixes a lot of things. When you lose a game and when you lose close games like we’ve lost the last two weeks, the mistakes are magnified. It seems like things are going a lot worse than they are. When you get a win, you kind of gloss over the mistakes and focus more on the positives. You feel better on Wednesday at practice, you feel better on Thursday at practice, and you just have that confidence. It sounds like a simple answer, but winning fixes a lot of your problems.”
Injuries and miscues have piled up for the Vikings, contributing to some of the early-season woes. But the Vikings will have their bye following Sunday’s game against the Lions and that will provide them an opportunity to regroup and prepare for a rugged month of October that includes trips to New York (Jets), Green Bay and then New England, along with a home game against the Cowboys.
Superstar RB Adrian Peterson feels like his team has been close to winning its first 2 games and agrees with Vanden Bosch that a win will grease the tracks for more success.
“Yeah, I think that’s all it’s going to take to get on the right track,” Peterson said on Wednesday. “Get that first victory in there and go into the bye weekend and we’ll definitely be back on track. It’s going to be nice to get that first win in and have a week to relax.”
Tags: Adrian Peterson
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