When the Vikings named Leslie Frazier interim head coach, the entire defensive staff had to step up with added responsibility. Frazier, of course, has been the Vikings defensive coordinator since 2007 but his new role as interim head coach doesn’t allow him to focus exclusively on the defense.
The Vikings defensive staff has responded well, particularly LBs coach Fred Pagac. He’s assumed much of the play-calling duties for Frazier’s defense and he might have done his best work on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. And it was more than just playcalling – it was the formulation of the game plan all week as well.
In coming away with an impressive and decisive 24-14 win over the NFC East-champion Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, the Vikings stymied one of the league’s most explosive offenses. The Eagles came in averaging 29.4 points per game, thanks in large part to one of the most dynamic weapons in the game of football – QB Mike Vick. He’s taken the NFL by storm in 2010 and is a legitimate MVP candidate because of his ability as a passer – a 20/5 TD-to-INT ratio – but also his rushing ability – more than 6.0 yards per carry with 9 TDs.
But he didn’t take the Vikings by storm. And it was an “old-school” approach by Pagac that led to the Vikings ability to contain Vick. Not old-school as in old-fashioned, but old-school as in how Pagac slowed down opposing offenses when he was coaching at Ohio State when CB Antoine Winfield was a standout there.
On Tuesday night, Pagac called a barrage of blitzes and pressures, frequently using DBs and LBs to rush Vick and make him uncomfortable. Pagac’s ace in the hold was CB Antoine Winfield, perhaps the surest-tackling CB in the entire NFL and arguably the Vikings best playmaker. Winfield came up huge on Tuesday night, tallying a sack on the game’s 2nd play and then registering a game-changing play late in the 2nd quarter.
On the play, Winfield blitzed off the corner and sacked Vick, causing him to fumble. Winfield then spotted the ball, got up off the ground scooped the ball and sprinted 45 yards for a TD to tie the game at 7 just before halftime. The Vikings went into the locker room with momentum and were able to expand the lead early in the 3rd quarter.
Tags: Antoine Winfield, Fred Pagac
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