This is Leslie Frazier’s first year as the full-time head coach of the Vikings, and there’s always some degree of transition involved with a change in team leadership. One part of the transition for the Vikings defense this year is a (literally) big change in the middle of the defensive line.
Gone is DT Pat Williams. In his place, the Vikings will rely on youngsters Christian Ballard, Letroy Guion and Fred Evans, and they also went to the free agent market to sign Remi Ayodele. Through the first two games of the regular season, the performance from the interior defensive line has been okay; not great, but not poor.
With Kevin Williams now back in the fold, though, there’s reason to believe a big up-tick in production is on the way.
“I’m really excited to have him back,” Ayodele said of Williams. “To have a veteran right next to you that has dominated the game for so long always help everybody on the defensive line. Everybody is stoked to have him back.”
Tags: Kevin Williams, Leslie Frazier, Remi Ayodele
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 202 Comments »
Generally speaking, the football-following world does a good job of not over-reacting after the first game of the regular season. Teams that came away with a win in Week 1 aren’t anointed as future Super Bowl champions and teams that came out on the wrong end of a Week 1 decision aren’t completely written off.
But that tends to change after Week 2. In today’s highly-sensationalized sports culture, we like to reach wide-sweeping conclusions on how the rest of the season is likely to play out based on the first two games. So for the Vikings, beginning the season with a 0-2 mark has brought about a fair amount of panic from the fan base and a fair amount of criticism from observers. There’s talk about the infrequency with which teams make the playoffs after starting 0-2, and how many wins the Vikings need by their Week 9 bye.
That’s all external talk, though. Internally, Leslie Frazier’s message is an easy one.
Focus on the Lions.
“One of the things I tried to get across to our players and our leadership, is we’re still very early in the season,” Frazier said on Wednesday while meeting with reporters. “Our focus needs to be on the Detroit Lions and finding a way to get a win on Sunday. That’s where our energy and focus has to be throughout this week. Just continue to move forward, one day at a time, and that means having a good day today at practice and a good day tomorrow and a good day on Friday as well.”
Frazier’s message is the right one to convey to his team. But it’s not as easy to expect those outside the building to take the same approach.
Both perspectives of this weekend’s game against the Lions are correct, though.
No matter how you shake it, Sunday’s game is a big one for the Vikings.
“We got a home game this week against a divisional opponent,” Frazier said on Monday. “It’s a big game. Any game in the division. The sense of urgency has nothing to do with where our record is now. But the fact we’re playing a divisional opponent at home. We just got to find a way this weekend.”
Tags: Leslie Frazier
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 45 Comments »
Today is Wednesday, and that means the focus on vikings.com and at Winter Park will shift to preparing for this Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions. We’ll delve into further detail about the Lions over the next few days, but here are a few basics…
– These are not the Lions of the recent pass. Head Coach Jim Schwartz’s group is no longer the perennial doormat of the NFC North. They are 2-0 on the young 2011 season and they’ve done it in style, outlasting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-20 on the road in Week 1 and then throttling the Kansas City Chiefs 48-3 at Ford Field last weekend.
– You can’t help but notice and be impressed by Detroit’s offense through the first two games, specifically QB Matthew Stafford. The Lions chose Stafford with the #1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft and now that pick is paying massive dividends. He has completed 65.3% of his passes for 599 yards with 7 TDs and 2 INTs, which adds up to a passer rating of 112.0. The Lions rank 2nd in the NFL in scoring with 37.5 points per game, have yet to give up a sack and they’re +6 in turnover margin.
– As well as Stafford is playing this season, the Lions have actually maintained a pretty good offensive balance. Of their 9 TDs this season, 7 are through the air and just 2 are on the ground. But, Detroit has called the 4th-most rushing plays and just the 13th-most passing plays. While they’re averaging just 3.3 yards per rush, they are at least sticking with the run enough to have a balanced attack.
– Where Detroit becomes a bit unbalanced, though, is in critical situations such as 3rd downs and the red zone. The Lions have had 26 third-down snaps and 22 of those snaps have been passes (84.6%). They’ve also had 32 red zone snaps and 20 of them have been passes (62.5%). So Detroit can be pretty pass-heavy in big situations, but how can you blame them for that with Stafford pulling the trigger and superstar WR Calvin Johnson out there running routes?
– Defensively, the Lions are mostly very good to solid. They are the NFL’s 7th-ranked defense in yards allowed and the 2nd-ranked defense in points allowed. They are also ranked 7th in pass defense (allowing 187.5 yards per game) and they’re tied with Baltimore for the League lead in takeaways with 8.
– From a personnel standpoint on defense, the top group is the defensive line. Ndamukong Suh is quickly developing into an elite DT; in fact, he’s probably already elite. And then coming off the edge the Lions have Kyle Vanden Bosch, who already has 2.0 sacks this season. Fifth-year LB Justin Durant leads the team in tackles, CB Chris Houston has 2 INTs on the season and you always have to watch S Louis Delmas, who is aggressive in run support and always seems to be around the ball.
– The one vulnerability I see in this defense is in the run game. The Lions are yielding 4.6 yards per carry and 103.5 yards per game, which ranks 23rd and 13th in the NFL, respectively. The Vikings, meanwhile, rank 3rd in yards per carry with a 5.8-yard average and 3rd in yards per game with a 172.5-yard average. Also, Detroit’s two opponents have logged just 22.5 rushes per game, while the Vikings have averaged 29.5 rushes per game so far. I expect the Vikings to challenge the Lions with Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart early and often to see if Suh and Co. can hold up against a powerful ground game.
– Last week the Lions defense allowed just 3 points to the Kansas City Chiefs, an impressive display no doubt. But consider this…Chiefs star RB Jamaal Charles was lost for the game (and, subsequently, the season) at the end of the first offensive series. Prior to Charles leaving the game, Kansas City ripped off runs of 24, 8, 24, 5 and 3 yards (12.8 yards per carry).
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 145 Comments »
The Shriners Hospitals for Children All Pro Dad Father & Kids Experience is a hands-on event providing inspirational bonding opportunities for dads and their kids. This fall’s Minneapolis area Father & Kids Experience at Winter Park Field House will be held on Sept. 24, from 2 – 5 p.m. CDT at Winter Park Field House, and will be hosted by Minnesota Vikings Head Coach and All Pro Dad spokesman, Leslie Frazier. Dads and kids will spend the afternoon running football-themed drills and learning tips on how to be better fathers, while spending quality time interacting with their kids.
“I am excited that All Pro Dad is returning to the Vikings!” said Tony Dungy, former Vikings defensive coordinator. “Leslie Frazier is a great spokesman for the All Pro Dad program.”
As a thank you for being a Vikings fan, we would like to offer the first 20 people to click on this link – www.allprodad.com/vikings – FREE admission to the event! Each admission includes one adult and up to four children. The event is recommended for children ages five and older. If you weren’t one of the first 20 to win free admission, please register today at www.AllProDad.com as the event is expected to sell out.
“It is great to be returning to Minnesota with fun football drills, practical information and fatherhood tips,” said Mark Merrill, founder and president of Family First.
The 2011 All Pro Dad Father & Kids Experience is sponsored by Shriners Hospitals for Children, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Russell Athletic, Comcast and Minnesota’s Sports Station THE FAN 100.3.
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As is the case each Wednesday during the NFL season, fans can head to Mall of America tonight from 6:30 to 7 to check out “Vikings Country,” a weekly radio show hosted by Mike Mussman and co-hosted by either Jared Allen or Chad Greenway. Tonight, Jared Allen is the co-host.
The show will be broadcast live from the Sky Deck Sports Grille and Bar at Mall of America – located on the fourth floor, east side – every Wednesday during the regular season and will air on FM 100.3; the show will also be aired on Fox Sports North at 11:00 a.m. every Sunday. Allen and Greenway will alternate weeks as co-hosts of the show with Mussman, and the Vikings Street Team will be at each broadcast giving away great prizes.
Fans are encouraged to attend the live broadcast each week at the Sky Deck Sports Grille and Bar, where they will enjoy a state-of-the-art restaurant and entertainment facility that features high definition TV’s, quality billiards, 12 lanes of bowling and a great menu of beverages and food.
Allen will co-host on the following dates: September 21, October 5, October 19, November 16, November 30, December 14 and December 28. Greenway will co-host on the following dates: September 28, October 12, October 26, November 9, November 25, December 7 and December 21.
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