Peterson Selected To PFW’s Midseason All-Pro Team

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 10, 2010 – 4:56 pm

Adrian Peterson was the lone Viking selected to Pro Football Weekly’s Midseason All-Pro Team, an honor voted on by the editor’s of Pro Football Weekly.

PFW’s Midseason All-Pro Team is led by first-half standouts such as QB Peyton Manning, TE Antonio Gates, DT Ndamukong Suh and DE Osi Umenyiora and also includes 4players from the Pittsburgh Steelers — rookie C Maurkice Pouncey, OLB James Harrison, ILB Lawrence Timmons and S Troy Polamalu. Head coach Bill Belichick, who guided the Patriots to 6 wins the first half of the season, was selected as the league’s top coach.

Here is the full team:

QB Peyton Manning/Colts
RB Adrian Peterson/Vikings*
RB Chris Johnson/Titans
WR Roddy White/Falcons
WR Calvin Johnson/Lions
TE Antonio Gates/Chargers*
C Maurkice Pouncey/Steelers
OG Chris Snee/Giants*
OG Kris Dielman/Chargers
OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson/Jets*
OT Michael Roos/Titans

DE Trent Cole/Eagles
DE Osi Umenyiora/Giants
DT Ndamukong Suh/Lions
DT Haloti Ngata/Ravens*
OLB James Harrison/Steelers
OLB Clay Matthews/Packers
ILB Ray Lewis/Ravens
ILB Lawrence Timmons/Steelers
CB Antonio Cromartie/Jets
CB Nnamdi Asomugha/Raiders
S Troy Polamalu/Steelers
S LaRon Landry/Redskins

PK Josh Scobee/Jaguars
P Shane Lechler/Raiders*
PR Devin Hester/Bears*
KR Leon Washington/Seahawks*

Bill Belichick/Patriots

* — Unanimous selection by PFW editors

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 191 Comments »

Vikings Will Plan To Keep Peppers Cool In Chicago

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 10, 2010 – 4:30 pm

In an earlier entry we pointed out that one important aspect of this weekend’s game against the Bears is the Vikings pass rush because Chicago has allowed more sacks than any other team and the Vikings are coming off a 6-sack performance against the Arizona Cardinals.

But make no mistake, the Bears feel the same way about their pass rush against the Vikings offense. And the key to Chicago’s pass rush is DE Julius Peppers, one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers and a player with whom the Vikings became too familiar last season in a game against Peppers’ former team, the Carolina Panthers.

In that game, Vikings QB Brett Favre was constantly pressured and he was sacked 4 times. The offense was never able to get on track as a result. Peppers had 1.0 of the 4 sacks but his impact on the game was greater than his sack total indicated. He was a disruptive force both against the Vikings passing attack and the ground game.

Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie took the brunt of the criticism following the game. While meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress was asked about McKinnie’s mindset heading into this weekend’s game against the Bears and, ultimately, a rematch with Peppers.

“He’s a prideful guy,” Childress said of his LT. “He’ll see him (Peppers) on that side, of course, and you’re also going to see [Peppers] show up on the other side, too. Typically he goes to the open-ended side.”

Regardless of where he lines up, Peppers is an effective defender in both the run game and pass game and he’s a player the Vikings will have to account for on every play.

So how will the Vikings use personnel and scheme to try and neutralize Peppers?

“You usually talk about that, whether you’re going to cover a tight end over on that side or there’s going to be a back fading to that guy,” Childress explained. “All those protections are different. Sometimes you’ve got to stand by yourself because nobody’s going to be left in the backfield. Sometimes you’re going to make sure that you get both the tackles get help with the rush coming off the edge.”

The Vikings offensive line played well during the 2nd half against Arizona, which was an important factor in the Vikings 2nd-half surge and eventual victory. A similar performance this week in Chicago from that group will go a long way toward the Vikings registering their 4th win of the season.

Did You Know?
Bears DE Julius Peppers has 64.0 sacks since 2004. But Vikings DE Jared Allen has fared a little better, tallying 75.5 sacks since entering the league in 2004, more than any other NFL player over that span.

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 36 Comments »

Vikings List 9 On Wednesday Injury Report

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 10, 2010 – 3:31 pm

Brett Favre and Percy Harvin were instrumental in the Vikings comeback victory over Arizona last weekend, but neither of them participated in practice on Wednesday. Favre (ankle/foot/calf) was at practice but didn’t participate while Harvin (ankle/illness) was not at practice.

CB Asher Allen (concussion) and S Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) also did not participate in practice. T Phil Loadholt (knee) and DT Pat Williams (elbow) were limited while DE Everson Griffen (shoulder), CB Lito Sheppard (hand) and CB Frank Walker (hamstring) were full participants.

The Bears injury report is much simpler. Only C Olin Kreutz (hamstring) did not participate, while 3 CBs were listed as limited participants – Zackary Bowman (foot), Tim Jennings (knee) and D.J. Moore (head).

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 16 Comments »

Rice’s Return Gauged Step By Step

Posted by cjsiewert on November 10, 2010 – 2:18 pm

A pointed topic during Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress and QB Brett Favre’s press conferences Wednesday centered around the possible return of WR Sidney Rice for Sunday’s matchup against the Chicago Bears.

Rice has missed the entire season up to date after undergoing hip surgery during the preseason and was cleared to practice with the team last Wednesday. Rice’s eligibility last week started a 21-day period in which the Vikings must decide to place him on the active roster or Injured Reserve by Nov. 24.

“It’s not going to be a sole source deal where I say he’s playing,” Childress told reporters of Rice’s possible return. “He’s got a pretty good feel having played in this league. Even though he’s not going to flop on the turf out here or get caught in a nutcracker drill out here (at practice). Just that he’s got all the things he can do to play at the high level that he’s used to playing at, that he can defend himself, and that he’s going to feel okay about absorbing a hit.”

Childress has mentioned before that with any injured player there is a process in which they need to go through in order to get back onto the game field. And Rice’s return is no exception. The 4-year veteran has been practicing with the team since Nov. 4 and by gauging his range of motion, running and cutting abilities, it looks as if his hip has responded well to the surgery.

Rice’s return on Sunday at Soldier Field is possible, but the head coach acknowledged that if he were active against the Bears, he would be carefully integrated into the offense.

“I don’t think that it’s realistic that he can come right in and go 60 or 70 plays right away,” Childress said. “He’s been cleared for all activities right now, so the minute he feels that he can play, he can play.”

Favre kept a cautiously optimistic approach to Rice’s return on Sunday, but just like the rest of the team and fan base, wants to see the 6-4, 202-pounder return to form.

“I like the progress he’s making,” Favre said. “I wanted him eight, nine weeks ago, so he can’t get here soon enough. But I do want him, when he steps on for good, to feel confident that he’s not going to look back.”

Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 8 Comments »

Harvin Won’t Practice Wedneday; Vikings Make Roster Move

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 10, 2010 – 11:59 am

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress just finished up his regular Wednesday press conference and we’ll have plenty to share later here on the Blog. In the meantime, though, there are some odds and ends to take care of before the team heads outside to begin on-field preparations for the Chicago Bears.

The last question Childress was asked during his meeting with reporters was about WR Percy Harvin and how much he’d be able to practice on Wednesday given his ankle injury. As it turns out, Harvin will be held out of practice on Wednesday and it’s not because of the ankle.

Childress told reporters that Harvin is not in the building and won’t practice because he came down with a migraine. Childress did not go into any details regarding Harvin’s status, saying that there is a plan to get him back in playing condition. It should be noted that while Harvin has dealt with migraines frequently with the Vikings, he returned relatively quickly from his last episode.

Childress also told reporters that Colt Anderson, formerly on the Vikings practice squad, has been signed by the Philadelphia Eagles and will be placed on their 53-man roster. The Vikings filled the practice squad spot with CB Cord Parks, Childress said.

We’ll be back with more thoughts and updates from today’s press conferences.

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Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 21 Comments »

Turning Focus To The Chicago Bears

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 10, 2010 – 8:17 am

As fun as it is to dissect and review last weekend’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals, we must now turn our attention to the Vikings upcoming opponent – the Chicago Bears. Halfway through the season, Chicago (5-3) sits 2 games ahead of the Vikings in the NFC North standings and they enter this week’s matchup coming off a close road victory over the Buffalo Bills in Toronto.

Soldier Field has not been a pleasant venue for the Vikings over the last decade. Minnesota has won just twice at Soldier Field since 2000 and last year the Vikings lost a nail-biter in overtime on a cold, blustery night. This week, though, the Vikings play a Noon CT game on the road and the weather forecast for Chicago is much better than last year’s – partly cloudy, high of 49 degrees and only a 20% chance for rain.

So who are the Chicago Bears? On one hand they are the team that started out hot, winning 4 of their first 5 games. They have the NFL’s 7th ranked overall defense (allowing 309.6 YPG), the 3rd-ranked rushing defense (83.9 YPG) and the 4th-best scoring defense (16.6 PPG). On the other hand, they’ve lost 2 of their last 3 games (both at home) and they don’t rank higher than 21st in any major team offensive categories (29th overall offense, 21st passing, 27th rushing and 27th scoring).

A major goal for the Vikings this week should be to rush the passer. Bears QB Jay Cutler is talented in that he has a terrific arm, but he’s also prone to mistakes, especially when he’s being pressured. Cutler has 9 TDs this year but he also has 7 INTs and he’s been sacked 28 times in just 7 games played – ouch. But given those numbers, he’s still managed to build a passer rating of 86.0, which is respectable.

In analyzing Chicago’s QB performance, though, we must also look at the team numbers because Cutler was unable to play in Week 5. As a team, Chicago has allowed the most sacks in the NFL (32), they’ve thrown the 4th-most INTs (12) and they rank 29th in passer rating (73.1).

Another focal point for the Vikings this week should be RB Adrian Peterson, who has a history of torching the Bears. Peterson has 11 rushing TDs against Chicago in 6 games played and who could forget his performance at Soldier Field in 2007 as a rookie when he rushed for 224 yards and 3 TDs on 20 carries and also starred as a kick returner. That day Peterson totaled 361 yards in helping lead the Vikings to a thrilling 34-31 win. We’ll have more on Peterson versus the Bears later this week on the Blog.

That’s it for now, but before we go we’ll leave you with a few important Bears-related statistics…

The Good
– The Bears defense ranks #1 in the NFL in forcing opponents to go 3-and-out (35.6% of the time).
— Chicago has the 5th-best 3rd-down defense in the NFL, holding opponents to a 34.2% conversion rate.
— Chicago is +1 in turnover ratio.

The Bad
– Chicago scores TDs just 37.5% of the time they enter the red zone, which ranks 29th in the NFL
— The Bears offense has the 3rd-most 3-and-out offensive drives and they rank last in the NFL with a 22.9% 3rd-down conversion rate.

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 22 Comments »

Historical Perspective On Vikings Comeback Win vs. Arizona

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 10, 2010 – 6:00 am

Our next entry will officially turn the page this week from reviewing last week’s win to focusing on this week’s game against the Chicago Bears. But before we do that, let’s take a look at an interesting fact about the Vikings 27-24 comeback win over Arizona with the help of the Elias Sports Bureau.

According to Elias: “The Vikings overcame a 24–10 deficit in the final 4 minutes of the 4th quarter and then scored in overtime for a 27–24 victory over the Cardinals.  It was the first time in team history that Minnesota won a game after trailing by 14 or more points with less than 4 minutes to play.  In fact, no NFL team had done so since the Colts rallied late for a 38–35 overtime win at Tampa in 2003.”

Thanks go to Kevin Seifert – ESPN’s NFC North blogger – for passing the info along.

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 21 Comments »