On Wednesday we’ll begin focusing on the huge NFC North showdown between the Vikings and Green Bay, which will be featured on NBC’s broadcast of Sunday night football. Before then, though, let’s empty out the notebook from last weekend’s 24-21 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Percy Harvin has been a sensational playmaker for the Vikings since he arrived last season as a 1st-round pick. But just as impressive as the actual plays he makes on the field is his ability to impact the Vikings in so many different ways. He’s a dynamic kick returner, a productive receiver and he can line up in the backfield and act as a RB.
As a rookie last season, Harvin finished tied for 1st among all NFL rookies in receiving yards (790) and receptions (60). He also ranked 2nd in the NFC and 7th in the NFL with his team record 2,081 all-purpose yards (1,156 kickoff return, 790 receiving, 135 rushing). In total, Harvin touched the ball 117 times and averaged 17.8 yards per touch.
Against Dallas on Sunday, Harvin returned a kickoff 95 yards for a TD, the 3rd kickoff return TD of his career – more than any other Vikings player in history. He also had 3 receptions for 21 yards and lined up in the backfield to take 2 handoffs and pickup 18 yards.
“We talked about that before,” Childress said when asked about Harvin’s versatility, “about Urban Meyer saying he may have been their best running back (at Florida). In fact, he takes a great look at runs coming out of the backfield; outside runs, inside runs. We’re just trying to put the ball in his hands and get him as many touches as we can.
Childress even said the team might take a look at Harvin as a punt returner at some point because of his natural return abilities and vision in setting up blocks.
Replacing Cedric Griffin
The loss of CB Cedric Griffin to another knee injury hurts the Vikings pass defense and his absence was felt against the Cowboys. All 3 of Dallas’ TDs came via the pass, and two of the scores came with CB Lito Sheppard in coverage.
“He was in coverage on the two touchdown throws,” Childress explained on Monday. “I think we felt like he could have played a little bit better technique on the one down in the end zone, maybe could have been in inside technique to deny that slant. He was about to make a great play on the ball, it hit his hands, then [Dez] Bryant makes a great play on the ball.”
It’s not necessary to give up on Sheppard, but the Vikings must correct some of the errors that led to those 3 TDs on Sunday. The Packers have every bit as talented a WR corps as the Cowboys, so expect Aaron Rodgers and Co. to look for a way to attack the Vikings secondary.
Hopefully they’ll try to attack Asher Allen. My sense is that the pieces are falling into place for Allen, who is currently in his second season with the Vikings but is now seeing more of the field on defense. I think Allen is close to making a big defensive play and the timing would be perfect if he could do it against Green Bay. There will still be some learning moments for Allen on defense, but I like what I saw from him against the Cowboys, particularly with him being in the right position at the right time. Eventually he’ll be able to play fast without thinking, and that’s when the big plays will start to happen.
Center of Attention
Staring C John Sullivan has been dealing with a pesky calf injury all season and it’s caused him to miss some games. On Sunday against Dallas he was active but Jon Cooper started in his place – perhaps a precautionary move on the Vikings part. Although I feel the Vikings have missed Sullivan at C this year, Cooper did a good job against a stout Dallas defensive front seven. Jay Ratliff is the Cowboys defender that was lined up directly over Cooper for most of the day and though he did get a sack, he only had 3 tackles. Given Cooper’s inexperience and size disadvantage against Ratliff, it could’ve been much, much worse.
“He did a good job with the line calls,” Childress said of Cooper. “That guy [Jay] Ratliff is a hell of a football player and he gave him fits right from that first pass that he threw complete to Percy. I think he ended up kind of jittering him a little bit at the line of scrimmage and hit Brett on that particular play. But he did a great job with the line calls. Extremely competitive in there. I liked what he did getting a promotion to that starting job.”
Tags: Asher Allen, Cedric Griffin, John Sullivan, Jon Cooper, Lito Sheppard, Percy Harvin
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