I asked on Twitter yesterday what Vikings fans would like to have addressed in the next vikings.com Blog entry. The overwhelming response was something to the effect of the Vikings defense going against San Diego’s passing attack. So, let’s talk it out…
After watching the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers passing offenses hit the ground running last night, it looks like the lockout this past offseason won’t have much of a negative impact on the NFL’s elite QBs early in the season. Drew Brees was 32 of 49 for 419 yards and 3 TDs, while Aaron Rodgers was 27 of 35 for 312 yards and 3 TDs of his own. The Vikings task of Sunday in San Diego will be to slow down another of the NFL’s most prolific passers in Philip Rivers.
Rivers and Co. fall under the “you can’t stop them, you can only hope to contain them” category. But there is a way for the Vikings defense to contain the Chargers passing offense.
I think the key will be pressuring Rivers. This isn’t a novel concept, but so often when we think about stopping the opposing team’s passing offense we talk about only the secondary. And while it’s important that the Vikings secondary plays well on Sunday, it’s just as important that the rest of the Vikings defense finds a way to collapse the pocket around Rivers and make him uncomfortable.
Brees and Rodgers were dominant last night, but they weren’t perfect. When they weren’t pressured, they looked unstoppable. But when they were pressured, the defenses usually got off the field. Brees and Rodgers were sacked a combined 5 times on Thursday night, and only one of those 5 drives that contained a sack ended with a TD. The other 4 drives ended in 3 punts and 1 FG.
Earlier in the week, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier was asked about his confidence level in the secondary going against a prolific passing attack such as San Diego’s. Frazier also mentioned that containing a passing attack is as much about rush as it is about coverage.
“It’s an important position because for us to be successful, our secondary will have to play well,” Frazier said. “But it’s a combination of our front being able to stop the run with our linebackers and forcing them into situations where they have to throw the ball and we can make them predictable.”
With that in mind, the task of containing Rivers and the Chargers passing attack is as much the responsibility of DEs Jared Allen and Brian Robison, as well as the rest of the Vikings defensive line, as it is the secondary’s responsibility. Allen had the best training camp of any Vikings player in my opinion and he looks poised for another double-digit sack season.
But going back to the topic of the Vikings secondary, a group that has been criticized in recent seasons, Frazier seems confident the Vikings have the right personnel in place to make an improvement in 2011. And Frazier’s confidence might not be misplaced. The group will certainly get a boost with the return of both Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin to the lineup. The Vikings drafted Cook in 2010 with the idea that the combination of he and Griffin, along with Winfield, would give the Vikings defense the bodies and talent to matchup with many of the great passing offenses in the NFL.
“I think we have the right guys on the field in the secondary between Cedric (Griffin), Chris (Cook), and Antoine (Winfield) that can get the job done,” Frazier said. “When we looked at Chris (Cook) when he was healthy and performing, he did a good job for us, and the same with Cedric (Griffin) and they have made enough progress physically that that’s not an issue. It’s a matter of getting game experience now for Cedric, in which we tried to give him some during the preseason and the same with Chris, and then he tweaked his hamstring in the Dallas game. Just the experience part was more important than determining whether or not they could do it.”
Tags: Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin, Chris Cook, Leslie Frazier
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