There was only one change to the Vikings injury report on Thursday, as WR Bernard Berrian (groin) took part on a limited basis after sitting out on Wednesday.
Green Bay had a few changes, including the addition of both FB Korey Hall (back) and C Scott Wells (arch), who were limited in practice. T Chad Clifton (knee) and TE Andrew Quarless (shoulder) were both limited on Wednesday but were full participants on Thursday.
Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress met with reporters after practice on Thursday and indicated that decisions on both Berrian and Sidney Rice won’t be made until later in the week. Lastly, with S Eric Frampton sitting out his 2nd consecutive day of practice, it’s good news that CB Asher Allen (concussion), CB Chris Cook (knee) and S Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) were all full participants on both Wednesday and Thursday.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 381 Comments »
The Vikings defense has been nothing short of excellent under Leslie Frazier’s tutelage. Frazier joined the Vikings in 2007 and since then he’s coached the #1 rushing defense twice, the #2 rushing defense once and he’s seen his pass defense improve each season.
That consistent improvement has been a vital part of the Vikings winning back-to-back division titles and marching to the NFC title game a season ago. This year, though, consistency has been a bit tougher to come by and perhaps the most glaring result of that is the Vikings lack of success on 3rd downs.
In 2009 the Vikings had the NFL’s 3rd best 3rd down defense, holding opponents to a 34.5% conversion rate. This year, however, opponents are converting 41.8% of the time, which ranks just 26th in the NFL. The dip in this area was on display last weekend in the Chicago when the Bears, who came into the game with the NFL’s worst 3rd-down offense, converted 11 of 19 (58%) third downs and scored 2 of their 3 TDs on 3rd down plays.
“We’ve been very good on third down in the past,” Frazier said on Thursday. “To not be getting it done right now, it’s not like us. It’s something we’re taking a hard look at and trying to correct.
“It’s a combination of having good coverage and being able to rush the passer at the same time. We’ve been inconsistent in doing both and this will be the weekend for us to be consistent in both rushing and covering.”
Certainly injuries have been a factor for Frazier’s group. Starting CB Cedric Griffin was lost for the season to a knee injury and backups such as rookie Chris Cook and veterans Asher Allen and Lito Sheppard have also dealt with ailments that have kept them out of the lineup at times.
“It would help if we could go through an entire week with the same group practicing and knowing that they’re going to play on Sunday,” Frazier said. “That would definitely help. But whoever plays, you count on those guys being able to make plays.”
Frazier refused to lean on injuries as an excuse, however, pointing out that every NFL team deal with injuries each season. Green Bay, as a matter of fact, might be the team dealing with more significant injuries than anyone. Instead, Frazier explained that the onus is on the defense to perform at a more consistent level.
The last time the Vikings played at Mall of America Field, Frazier’s defense shut down the Arizona Cardinals offense. The most encouraging part of the performance was the pass rush, which came alive at the end of the 4th quarter and in overtime to notch a total of 6 sacks, including 4 in the waning moments of the game.
Tags: Leslie Frazier
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 122 Comments »
If you watched last week’s Monday Night Football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins, you surely saw the value in having a QB with mobility who can make plays and keep plays alive with his feet. Eagles QB Michael Vick had an electric performance, supplementing his 4 passing TDs with 80 yards rushing and a pair of TDs on the ground.
While not to the same extent as Vick, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers also has the ability to use his feet to pickup yards on the ground or buy extra time to allow his receivers to come open. Again, no QB is better or even comparable to Vick in this regard, but the point remains that the Vikings must be cognizant of Rodgers’ mobility this Sunday.
“It makes it a lot tougher when you’re playing zone, or man,” Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said of mobile QBs. “The quarterback buys some extra time because something’s not open and he’s waiting and waiting, it puts a lot of pressure on your secondary to hold up when that happens. It’s something we’ll have to address this weekend because their quarterback in Green Bay does the same thing. It really puts a lot of pressure on your defense.”
Rodgers doesn’t hesitate to abandon the pocket to make a play. In 2009 Rodgers averaged 3.6 rushes per game and picked up 5.4 yards per attempt; he also had 5 rushing TDs. The year prior he averaged 3.7 rushes per game and this year he’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry with 3 rushing TDs. Against the Vikings earlier this season, Rodgers had 3 carries for 14 yards but he was particularly good at moving out of the pocket to find receivers. In fact, being on the move might be when Rodgers is at his best.
“You’re in third-down situations, you’re trying to get off the field, you have things covered up pretty good, and then the quarterback moves around, moves around, and somebody eventually gets open,” Frazier explained. “It puts a lot of pressure on your defense when that happens, so we have to have a good plan to keep him in the pocket and try to contain him. That will be the challenge for us this weekend.”
Tags: Leslie Frazier
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 30 Comments »
I mentioned several times in the days leading up to last week’s Vikings-Bears game in Chicago that weird things tend to happen at Soldier Field. We won’t go through all the examples right now, but there are several that come to mind immediately. And now there’s another one to add to the list – Ryan Longwell’s missed FG in the 2nd quarter of last week’s game.
The wind was whipping at Soldier Field last Sunday but Longwell appeared to have the conditions under control. He nailed 36-yard try in the 1st quarter and he was solid during warmups. As he lined up a 39-yard attempt with 12:14 to play in the 2nd quarter and the Vikings winning 3-0, the wind was still whipping and Longwell apparently was prepared to compensate for it. The trouble was, the wind changed its behavior at the last second and Longwell’s attempt went directly at the left upright and bounded away.
“That’s where he was aiming it,” Vikings special teams coordinator Brian Murphy said at his press conference on Thursday. “There was a gust going across the field and just as he goes to approach, the wind dies down and the [kick] stayed true right to where he hit it. If that wind continues on the way it was, that thing would’ve been good. Unfortunate moment in time right there.”
I offer this bit of information not to make an excuse for Longwell, but to illustrate the preparation and thought that goes into the kicking aspect of the game. Murphy and the Vikings specialists are on the field before anyone else – especially when playing on the road and in an outdoor venue – because they need to test the field and weather conditions to try and figure out what adjustments need to be made.
Tags: Ryan Longwell
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 18 Comments »
Part of the reason – a big part of the reason – for the NFL’s popularity on America’s sports landscape is its unpredictable nature. From season-to-season and even from week-to-week, no knows what to expect. Look no further than the Vikings for a perfect illustration of that point – they were 12-4 last season but are struggling at 3-6 with a similar lineup this season.
But whatever makes the NFL unpredictable and so apt to change has not impacted Vikings G Steve Hutchinson. Year-after-year, Hutchinson is at the top of his game and the numbers support that assertion. Adrian Peterson is 92 yards from 1,000 rushing yards this season, and when he reaches that total it’ll mark the 10th consecutive season Hutchinson has blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher.
While 1,000 yards rushing might not be the standard by which NFL RBs are measured anymore, the streak Hutchinson has going is impressive nonetheless, especially when you look at the rushing performances the Vikings have recorded since Hutchinson signed with the Vikings in 2006. The Vikings have had one of the best running attacks in the NFL since that point, rushing for 9,802 yards over the past 73 regular season games. The Vikings 134.3 yards per game average ranks 5th in the NFL during that span.
Pro Bowl voting is underway and we’ve been promoting both LB Chad Greenway and P Chris Kluwe this year because they’ve never earned an all-star nod and they deserve consideration this year. Hutchinson, though, has 7 Pro Bowls to his name and through 8 games this year it’s clear to me he deserves another one.
You can cast your Pro Bowl ballot by clicking here.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Steve Hutchinson
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 11 Comments »
In the NFL, there are no sick days for players, coaches or true fans. To celebrate fans that never lose a moment, Vicks has launched the “Vicks NyQuil/DayQuil Search for the Most Dedicated NFL Fan” contest. The true fan that can prove they are the “Vicks Most Dedicated NFL Fan” will be invited to Super Bowl 2011 for an all-expense-paid ultimate experience for two.
To enter, fans that never miss a moment should visit http://www.Facebook.com/NyQuil and submit a photo with caption that shows why they are “Vicks NyQuil/DayQuil Most Dedicated NFL Fan.” After the submission period, 32 finalists, one from each NFL team, will be selected and then the final voting period will begin. Shortly after the NFL’s regular season comes to an end, the winner of “Vicks NyQuil/DayQuil Search for the Most Dedicated NFL Fan” contest will be announced.
The winning fan and a friend will receive an all-expense-paid Super Bowl XLV prize package. All thirty-two finalists will receive a $100 gift certificate to NFLShop.com and Vicks products.
To enter the contest, visit www.Facebook.com/NyQuil.
Note that this contest is only open to U.S. residents.
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Without a doubt, Sunday afternoon’s matchup against the Green Bay Packers at Mall of America Field is the most important game of the season – for both teams.
With a Vikings win, the Purple would move into 2 games of the Packers in the divisional standings – and the same with the Chicago Bears if they lose to Miami tonight. But if Green Bay comes out victorious, the Packers would jump 4 games ahead of the Vikings with 6 to play, and those numbers don’t bode well for Minnesota reaching the postseason.
History shows that the Vikings home-field advantage has done the same justice as a neutral site would, with the Minnesota-Green Bay rivalry posting a 5-5 record at Mall of America Field over the past decade. But the Vikings have won the last 2 contests at home against the Packers, and will need to extend that streak to 3 if they want to extend their playoff aspirations.
And if playing at home with your backs against the wall and the season dangling by a thread isn’t enough motivation to pull out all the stops, how about playing your former team of 16 seasons for most likely the last time in your career for added incentive?
“No, I haven’t really,” Vikings QB Brett Favre replied when asked if he had any thoughts on playing the Packers for a final time. “We obviously need a win. That’s my focus and hopefully our team’s focus is winning this football game, as it was last week and the week before. We can’t be concerned about anything else but winning the football game. There’s no time to think about those types of things.”
The 20-year veteran’s response to such a question speaks volumes to how a player should approach any game on a week-to-week basis, and the wills of each player’s character will be tested during Sunday’s pivotal NFC North showdown.
“Ultimately you’ve got to want to play for yourself,” Favre said. “All of those qualities that are expected of you really are even more important at this point. Your true character can show. Hopefully our guys will take that approach. I think they will and have. We’ve just got to get a win.”
Oh, and by the way, Sunday’s battle between the Vikings and Packers will mark the 100th meeting between the 2 teams in their storied rivalry, and former Vikings DE John Randle will be awarded his Hall of Fame Ring during halftime. And I can’t imagine Mr. Randle wanting to see anything less than a Vikings victory over a team he collected 14.0 sacks against in 11 seasons with the franchise.
Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 60 Comments »
- DE Jared Allen recorded 4.5 sacks and a FF to go with his eight tackles against the Packers on 10/5/09. Allen had 3.0 sacks against the Packers on 11/1/09 to give him 7.5 sacks against Green Bay in the 2009 season, a team record for most in a season vs. any opponent.
- Allen notched a sack of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in the endzone for a safety when the teams met on 11/9/08. Allen now has 6.0 sacks in his four games against the Packers.
- Allen had his third career interception against the Packers on 10/24/10, picking off Aaron Rodgers, ranking him in third place among defensive linemen in Vikings history.
- WR Bernard Berrian caught a 49-yard TD pass against Green Bay in the 2006 season opener and caught three passes for 93 yards on Christmas Day 2005 against the Packers when he was a member of the Chicago Bears.
- QB Brett Favre became the first QB to defeat all 32 teams when he threw for 271 yards and three TDs on 24-of-31 passing (77.4%) and defeated the Packers on 10/5/09. Favre finished with a 135.3 passer rating and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
- Favre threw for four TDs and 244 yards on 11/1/09, his second game against his former Packers. With the 4 TDS, Favre broke the NFL record for the most career games with 4 or more TD passes.
- LB Chad Greenway posted a game-high 12 tackles and 1.0 sack when the teams met on 11/9/08.
- WR Percy Harvin scored his first career rushing touchdown against the Packers on 10/24/10.
- LB E.J. Henderson led the Vikings with 11 tackles against the Packers on 10/5/09.
- RB Adrian Peterson rushed for 192 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries (6.4) vs. Green Bay (11/9/08). Peterson has 735 rushing yards and five TDs in seven games against the Packers. He has averaged 4.9 yards per carry.
- WR Sidney Rice has caught a TD in all four games he’s played against the Packers. Rice caught his fi rst career TD pass and finished with six receptions for 75 yards at Green Bay (9/30/07). He also caught a 23-yard TD pass at Green Bay in the 2008 season opener (9/8/08) and a three-yard touchdown vs. Green Bay on 11/9/2008.
- DE Brian Robison was the last Viking to sack QB Brett Favre when he played for Green Bay on 9/30/07.
- DT Kevin Williams brought down QB Brett Favre vs. Green Bay (11/2/03) during Williams’ rookie season.
- DT Pat Williams tied his career high with 12 tackles vs. Green Bay (11/12/06) and recorded four tackles for a loss.
- CB Antoine Winfield was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Week for the Wild Card game at Green Bay (1/9/05) when he picked off Brett Favre and posted 13 tackles.
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