By Air Or By Ground, Harvin Continues To Deliver

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 4, 2011 – 3:57 pm

The traditional way to combat opposing defenses that crowd the line of scrimmage to stop the running game is to strike downfield in the passing game. The Vikings will continue working on this part of their offense in an effort to free up Adrian Peterson on the ground.

But the Vikings may have found another effective way to challenge defenses who stack the line of scrimmage – attack on the ground with Percy Harvin.

Last week against the Chiefs, it was apparent that Kansas City’s top defensive priority was to suffocate Peterson before he could get into a rhythm on the ground. Peterson did his best to grind through the Chiefs defense, as he gained 80 hard yards on 23 carries. While Peterson continually worked against the interior of the Chiefs defense, the Vikings were able to deploy Harvin to attack the edges of the defense.

Harvin collected 67 rushing yards on 4 carries against Kansas City, with each carry occurring on a play where he would motion toward the center of the formation, take a short pitch from QB Donovan McNabb in the backfield, and then burn the edges of the Chiefs defense to get around the corner and burst upfield. Harvin gained 8, 13 and 23 yards going around the left end of the offense and then he picked up another 23-yard gain going around the right end.

Click here to watch one of Harvin’s 23-yard gains against the Chiefs.

Using Harvin as a RB is nothing new. This has been a part of Harvin’s skill set for years and it’s something the Vikings have been doing on occasion for the past 3 seasons. In fact, Harvin now holds both the single-season and career records for rushing yards by a WR – he has 141 rushing yards this season and 383 for his career. Harvin also holds the single-game rushing record by a WR and he needs just 3 more attempts to break the Vikings career mark for rushing attempts by a WR.

Using Harvin in this way will eventually force opposing defenses to guard the edges, which will help Peterson get rolling on the ground, too. With both Harvin and Peterson posing as threats in the ground game, McNabb and the passing game will have a better chance for success through the air.

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Vikings Tweak Roster; Add D’Imperio

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 4, 2011 – 1:11 pm

The Vikings on Tuesday made a roster change, signing a player from their practice squad to the Active Roster.

FB Ryan D’Imperio, a 7th-round draft choice from 2010, has been added to the 53-man roster.

To make room for D’Imperio, the Vikings waived TE Allen Reisner.


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Shiancoe, Rudolph Emerge In Passing Game

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 4, 2011 – 8:23 am

Head Coach Leslie Frazier said on Monday that, after watching tape of last weekend’s game with his entire coaching staff, he feels the Vikings are “on the verge of getting things headed in the right direction.” It’s not an easy thing for fans to hear after the disappointing start to the season, but it will be interesting to see if Frazier is indeed correct when the Vikings return to Mall of America Field for a game against the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday.

Beyond citing the fact that this weekend’s game is at home, Frazier didn’t go into specifics for why he felt a turnaround was in store for his team. But one reason I have to believe Frazier feels improvement is imminent is that we finally saw the Vikings get their TEs involved in the passing game. Both Kyle Rudolph and Visanthe Shiancoe were factors in the passing game against Kansas City, and hopefully that will prime the pump for Donovan McNabb going forward.

Shiancoe had his best outing of the season against Kansas City, hauling in 6 receptions for 56 yards; he had just 4 receptions for 36 yards and a TD over the first 3 games of the season. In addition, Rudolph caught 3 passes for 44 yards, giving the TE duo more than half of the team’s production from pass catchers.

More important than just the sheer numbers for Shiancoe and Rudolph were the situations in which McNabb leaned on them. McNabb favored Shiancoe on critical downs, as the two hooked up for two completions on 3rd downs and another on 4th down. In fact, all 6 of Shiancoe’s receptions resulted in 1st downs.

Also, McNabb found Rudolph down the left sideline for 41 yards when the Vikings were backed up on their own 15-yardline early in the 2nd quarter. That drive ended in a turnover, but until that point Rudolph’s long reception looked to be the key play in what would become a scoring drive that would’ve increased the Vikings lead to double digits.

Click here to watch a video highlight of Rudolph’s catch.

It’s a negative situation to start the season 0-4, but in looking for a bright spot here and there you can’t help but notice the improvement from Shiancoe and Rudolph in the passing game. It will be interesting to see how Arizona defends this aspect of the Vikings offense, and what other areas of the Vikings offense will open up as a result.

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