Even after spending more than 10 days with the team in Mankato during training camp and watching the entire roster play preseason games, you just never know how everything will unfold once the regular season arrives. But there are some things you can see coming clear as day. And if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: Jared Allen had the best training camp of any Vikings player.
Through 3 games in the regular season, his play on the field affirms that observation. And you can count Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier among those who saw an impressive start to the season coming for Allen.
“I just know in my conversations with him when we came to training camp, you could sense the commitment that he had to having a great start and a great year,” Frazier said on Wednesday. “He was so disappointed in a year ago, that the work that he put into this offseason felt like it was going to pay dividends. Boy, he’s off to a great start.”
Allen, who had just 1.0 sack through Week 8 last year, already has 4.5 sacks this season. Last week against Detroit, a team who came into the game having allowed zero sacks, Allen got to QB Matthew Stafford for 3.0 sacks.
While we associate Allen with being the team’s best pass rusher, the perennial Pro Bowler is also stepping up in other areas. He’s an important part of the Vikings run defense – he almost had a game-winning safety against Detroit last week on a running play – and Frazier says Allen has also stepped up as a leader on the team.
“He’s playing at a high level versus the run, he’s doing a great job of rushing the passer,” Frazier said. “I don’t think you could ask for a whole lot more. He’s doing a terrific job of leading our team in the locker room. He’s really stepped up in all areas, just good for our team.”
Last week the Vikings lost their third consecutive game in heart-wrenching fashion and at points both during the game and in the aftermath Allen was vocal. But he wasn’t a negative influence in his outspokenness. Rather, Frazier says he was being exactly the type of leader the team needs, whether it’s in times of struggle or times of prosperity.
“We talked during the week with some of our leaders about making sure everyone was emotionally engaged in the game, no matter what the scoreboard said or how much time was on the clock,” Frazier explained. “And Jared was one of those guys who did a great job of stepping up and just encouraging guys and making sure that they stayed engaged in the game, both mentally and physically. It was just good encouragement for our players and for our team. We need that from him and from some of our other leaders as well.”
What the Vikings need now is a win to generate some positive momentum and hopefully get back to the .500 mark as soon as possible. With the way he’s playing through the first three games, Allen looks to be the perfect impetus to get a turnaround started.
Tags: Jared Allen, Leslie Frazier
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 175 Comments »
It’s Wednesday, and that means we can flip the calendar away from last week’s loss and start thinking about this weekend’s upcoming game against the 0-3 Kansas City Chiefs. Here are a few quick thoughts on the Chiefs…we’ll of course have much, much more about this matchup throughout the week here on vikings.com and the vikings.com Blog.
– The Vikings (0-3) enter Week 4 of NFL action looking for their first win, and this week they’ll try to find it on the road at Arrowhead Stadium, home to one of my favorite NFL stadium environments. The first road trip of my time with the Vikings came in 2007 when the Vikings traveled to Kansas City for a Week 3 showdown. Our buses get to the stadium about 3 hours prior to kickoff, and when we rolled into the Chiefs stadium complex the entire parking lot was jam-packed with Chiefs fans tailgating. It was an incredible atmosphere and one that all NFL fans deserve to enjoy. The atmosphere transfers inside the stadium for the game, too. It’s a loud venue and the Vikings offense must operate efficiently early in the game to stymie the home-field advantage.
– Yes, the Vikings and Chiefs are both winless. But they’ve gotten to this point in different ways. The Vikings have blown big halftime leads and walked off the field each week knowing they were in a position to win the game. The Chiefs suffered through two blowout losses early in the season, losing 41-7 at home to Buffalo in Week 1 and 48-3 to Detroit in Week 2. Then, Kansas City had the ball in San Diego territory late in their Week 3 contest, but a careless INT from QB Matt Cassel ended any hopes of an incredible upset victory for the Chiefs.
– It’s been a tough go from the start of the season for the Chiefs. Explosive return man Dexter McCluster fumbled the opening kickoff in Week 1, and the Bills responded by marching 25 yards in 5 plays to score a TD and set the stage for a massive blowout. In the loss, Kansas City lost star S Eric Berry for the season with a knee injury. Then, there were positive signs in the Chiefs next two games, but none of those signs translated to victories. In Week 2, the Chiefs played the red-hot Detroit Lions at Ford Field and their offense got off to a quick start, gouging the Lions defense for plays of 24, 8, 24 and 5 yards right off the bat. But then their best offensive player, RB Jamaal Charles, suffered a season-ending knee injury on the 6th play of the series, and from that point on the game was over.
– The Chiefs rank 30th in total offense, 31st in passing offense and last in scoring offense. Defensively, they rank 23rd in total defense, 28th against the rush and last in scoring defense. They are tied for 31st in turnover margin at -6, which includes 10 turnovers, and their 3rd-down defense and offense is near the bottom of the League as well.
– On paper, the Chiefs look like a team that can be overwhelmed. But these games aren’t played on paper, and after starting 0-3 the Vikings aren’t in a position to expect to overwhelm opposing teams. The loss of Berry and Charles is huge for Kansas City, but they still have a couple of stars – one on defense and one on offense – that can take over games. Defensively, watch out for OLB Tamba Hali, who is one of the NFL’s best pass rushers. He plays that outside edge rusher in the Chiefs 3-4 defensive scheme and he can cause nightmares for opposing LTs and QBs. Hali has 2.0 sacks this season already and he has 43.5 over his 6-year career. On offense, WR Dwayne Bowe can take over games. He has the combination of size (6-2, 221 pounds) and explosiveness (13.8 yards per catch, 55 career 20+ yard receptions, 196 1st-down receptions) to be a dangerous threat for opposing defenses.
– In the Chiefs, I see an offense that can be explosive, even without Charles, and that can be creative. Todd Haley is the head coach, and he was the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals during their run to the Super Bowl with Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. and Kurt Warner. The Chiefs have gone to the no-huddle offense at times this season and they were actually in the no-huddle offense during their first scoring drive of the season. This team knows how to utilize offensive weapons so they must all be accounted for and the Vikings must attack Cassel to give him little time to find those targets and deliver the ball.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 138 Comments »
It was announced earlier this morning that Chris Doleman will become the 19th player in franchise history to join the Vikings Ring of Honor. Doleman, a Vikings DE for 10 seasons (1985-93, 99), will be inducted into the Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony on Sunday, October 23, when the Vikings host the Green Bay Packers.
Doleman’s place in Vikings history is significant, as he registered 96.5 sacks as a Viking (he had 150.5 career sacks), 31 forced fumbles and 16 fumble recoveries, making him one of the best defensive linemen in the history of a franchise with several Hall of Fame linemen. Confirming Doleman’s significant status among Vikings greats is the way in which fellow Vikings speak of him.
Here’s what fellow Vikings Ring of Honor members John Randle and Scott Studwell, as well as Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Vikings QB Warren Moon, had to say about Doleman.
“Chris Doleman had the ability to deliver the big play when you needed it. Teams had to keep an eye on him because they knew it was coming, be it in the beginning, middle or end of the game. He was capable of making that big play. As a young guy learning the NFL game from him, he did so much for me. He taught me how to be a pro on and off the field. He was quiet on the field, a leader without speaking. It was his presence that influenced games. The way he studied the game and showed his teammates the way to prepare and be a mature player made a big impact on me.” — Randle
“Chris was a phenomenal player and a guy who could have excelled in any decade. His size, speed, balance and skill level were ahead of their time. He changed how teams could play against us. Chris was a good friend and teammate and earned the respect of the locker room.” — Studwell
“Doleman is one of those rare guys, maybe one of four or five that I played against during my career right there with Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, that you had to know where they were and set your protection accordingly. You had to know if you were going to help the tackle out with a tight end or running back to chip on those guys. Doleman was someone you always had to worry about because you knew he could get to the quarterback. The amount of time and attention that went to preparing for Chris Doleman benefitted the others guys on those defensive lines. He was one of
those guys that you had to make sure could be blocked in one way or another.” — Moon
Tags: Chris Doleman, John Randle, Ring of Honor, Scott Studwell, Warren Moon
Posted in All | 16 Comments »
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, Chad Greenway 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: October 5, October 19, November 16, November 30, December 14 and December 28. Greenway will co-host on the following dates: tonight, October 12, October 26, November 9, November 25, December 7 and December 21.
Posted in All | 4 Comments »