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Vikings Defense Will Keep An Eye On Saints TE Graham

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 16, 2011 – 7:42 am

When you face an offense that ranks 1st in yards per game, passing yards, total 1st downs and passing 1st downs, and also has the 3rd-highest rated passer in the NFL, there are a lot of challenges. Facing such an offense is the task at hand for the Vikings defense this week, as Drew Brees and the high-scoring Saints offense are bringing their show to Mall of America Field on Sunday.

With all of the superlative stats one can use to describe the Saints passing offense, perhaps the most interesting is that their leading receiver is not a speedster on the outside or a quick-as-a-whip slot receiver. It’s TE Jimmy Graham, a first-year starter who played behind Jeremy Shockey for most of last season.

Graham is a big, physical and fast target for Brees in the Saints offense. He measures in at 6-6, 260 pounds, which gives him a decided advantage over any defender that tries to cover him. Add in the fact that he has excellent leaping ability, good hands, and above-average speed, and you can see why Graham is such a valuable and reliable target for Brees.

For the season, Graham leads the Saints in receptions (80), receiving yards (1,101) and receiving TDs (8).

“He’s a good player, a very good player,” Vikings Defensive Coordinator Fred Pagac said on Thursday. “Obviously doing a great job at this point catching the football. Big body, athletic, can run; we will have to get into him, changeup techniques and coverages on him and go from there.”

As good a season as Graham is having, he doesn’t pose the type of threat never before seen by this Vikings defense. Graham is a lot like San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates in that both are big, athletic pass-catching TEs with basketball backgrounds, and their teams feature them in the passing game. Other TEs that fit this mold in the NFL and that the Vikings have seen recently include Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez, Green Bay’s Jermichael Finley and Detroit’s Brandon Pettigrew.

The Vikings have had mixed results against TEs of this caliber. In Week 1 of the regular season, Gates caught 8 passes for 74 yards, and the Vikings held him out of the end zone. Against Green Bay’s Jermichael Finley in 2 games this season, the Vikings gave up 5 receptions for 80 yards and 1 TD. And against Detroit’s Brandon Pettigrew in 2 games, the Vikings yielded 17 receptions for 169 yards and 1 TD.

It sounds like Pagac and the Vikings defense will be on the lookout for Graham this week to make sure they hold him in check.

“When you are studying film, you will see linebackers, safeties on him,” Pagac said. “You will see people trying to change coverages up on him. Obviously the same stuff that we are going to try to do.”


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48 Responses to “Vikings Defense Will Keep An Eye On Saints TE Graham”

  1. By Twoodsnvikes on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Right now the 2012 draft order will be Colts, Rams, Vikes. The Rams have one more winnable game, but it will most likely end in this order. The Rams will either take Kalil or trade down to someone who is looking for a QB. I think it’s likely the Vikes will trade down as well. The following teams will definitely be looking for a QB in the first round in my mind: Dolphins, Seahawks, Redskins and the following teams I think are probable to be looking for a QB in the first round early: Broncos, Browns, Jaguars, Cardinals. With RG3 winning the heisman this Saturday and Matt Barkely being ranked very high, I think any of these teams would do a semi-desparate trade for either of these Qbs in our spot and we could pick up some great value and still a top 15 pick in the first round. So if we traded number three pick for anywhere between the number 12 and 15 pick, trade value would dictate an additional 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round. (Look at what Falcons gave up last year to get Julio Jones). Players that could still be available here that we would still be interested in are probably Alshon Jeffery (WR), Michael Flloyd (WR), and Jonathan Martin (OT). Let assume a WR since there are two:

    1st Round: Alshon Jeffery/Michael Flloyd (WR)
    2nd round: Chase Minnfield (CB)
    2nd round: Mark Barron (SS)
    3rd round: Levy Adc ock (OT)
    3rd round: Shaun Prater (CB)
    4th round: Keenan Robinson (OLB)
    4th round: Matt McCants (OT)
    4th round (compensatory): Amini Silatolu (OG)

    Lets say Martin is still available for us, I’d keep a few of the same players:

    1st round: Jonathan Martin (OT)
    2nd round: Chase Minnfield (CB)
    2nd round: Mark Barron (SS)
    3rd round: Lucas Nix (OG)
    3rd round: Shaun Prater (CB)
    4th round: Keenan Robinson (OLB)
    4th round: Marvin McNutt (WR)
    4th round (compensatory): George Iloka (FS)

    *Notes: Many of you I’m sure want Kalil, but I think the Rams will either take Kalil ahead of us or trade down to get additional picks much like us since they are not going to go for a QB. So Kalil could be gone. In addition, with the Vikes having SO many need areas, the prospect of picking up additional early round picks might be too attractive to pick up, as simulated in this mock.
    Some might question the OLB pick, but the truth is our LBs had some major troubles in the pass this year. Robinson has shown good pass coverage ability and he plays a bit nasty and getting some aggressive players on defense is definitely something we need.
    In addition, I think the following players need to be targeted/heavily considered by the Vikes in addition to the draft:
    DBS: Finnegan, Branch, Porter, Landry
    WR: V. Jackson, Bowe

  2. By Deertracks on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    The Vikings Offence might just keep an their eyes on Will Smith and Roman Harper…These two home wreckers will come looking for whom ever has the ball…Be it Ponder, Harvin, Peterson…Katy, bar the door!!

  3. By Twoodsnvikes on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    The headline should really be “Vikings pathetic excuse for a secondary tries to keep Brees under 500 yards and Saints under 50 points”

  4. By SmileyStar on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    I’ll be watching the game, hoping it doesn’t take Ponder giving the other team 24 points before Webb gets back under center.

  5. By SmileyStar on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    @deertracks I agree…I’m more concerned about the offense then the defense. The Offense needs to not turn the ball over. Ball security should be the theme of the week, especially for Ponder.

  6. By Ricky on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Dear Coach Frazier,
    Beat the Saints, kick their butts! Beat them, I’m really upset at the Vikings now. My father is really angry at the Vikings, I try to tell them “Move those big butts!” All my folks like the VIkings. Next time, beat them, I’m sick of this, I’m finished, I”m done!

  7. By KLAWZ on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Gezzzz……. this blog is garbage ……………..half the time it does not post…………. works almost as good as our vikes……………lol!

  8. By Rogerthevikefan on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Nfl.com has an offical report that Kalil will be joining the draft and Rieff will go back to school. So really Kalil is the only early 1st round talent at LT. J. Mart is Over-Rated stay clear away from him. LTs D. J. Fluker, Barrett Jones, and Ricky Wagner all have a chance at being late 1st rounders. LTs Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders will likley be around in the 3rd round.

  9. By ponderpurple on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Lets show the Saints how to really be loud, we finally get a chance for some payback, even though our team needs much help I think this will be an exciting game and we owe them big time on our turf! MAKE NOISE ON SUNDAY

  10. By hippster on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    what vikings defence are we talking about ? there is no viking defence anymore . aside from allen this D could;nt stop a crippled brees in a wheel chair , coaching is our biggist problem my pridiction 54 – 10 viking loss once again at home .if we can hope for anything, it would be someone gets a few cheep shots back at brees as pay back for all the none calls on farve, put him in a wheelchair.

  11. By Twoodsnvikes on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    @hippster: Nah I don’t think NO’s second stringers are that good, after saints are up 35-0 they will put in their second string to keep all their starters healthy for the playoffs, so it will be about 45-10

  12. By Regfan on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    I’m hoping Asher Allen has a really great day ,beating Saints 45-14

  13. By Rogerthevikefan on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    @Twoodsnvikes A better idea during FA would be to target Bills LT Bell. He is one of the better young LTs. WR Bowe would be a great complement to Percy. Wr V. Jackson resigned with the Chargers I believe. Like any DB because the secondary the Vikes have is not even worthy of being called swiss cheese. The secondary is just one giant hole.

  14. By Rogerthevikefan on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Get LT Bell and WR Bowe in FA. Draft CB Morris Claiborn in the 1st. OG Kelechi Osemele in the 2nd. CB Stephen Gilmore or OT Andrew Datko in the 3rd. 4th DT Jerel Worthy or SS Ray Ray Armstrong. Compensatory 4th CB Cliff Harris. 5th WR B.J. Cunningham.

  15. By Saddy on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    I heard in an article if Rams and Vikes are tied at 2-14, Vikings will have the No 2 Draft pick, Now Matt Kallil is available I say Vikes draft Matt Kallil, I saw a few highlights where Running backs were running behind Matt Kallil for huge yards.

    I also read an ESPN article that our current defense coordinator’s calls are not respected by our secondary DB’s and they have been playing their own plays…and they are tipping our Defensive coordinator is gone by the end of season and Viking are going to be a 3-4 defensive scheme…

    Frazier is trying to bring his buddy Mike Singletary as defensive coach and some of the players have privately said singletary is bad..I don’t want Mike Singletary to be our Defensive Coach ever…

  16. By Twoodsnvikes on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    @Roger: Unless something has been completed recently… the contract he signed this year was only a one year deal so he will be a FA again this offseason

  17. By 61vikings on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    The Vikings will not pass on Matt Kalil!! He will be our first pick!! Trade for his brother at Carolina because we need a center as well!! Since Matt Birk left, we haven’t had a center worth mentioning!!

  18. By Viking Joe on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    That is true if the Vikings and Rams finish 2-14, the Vikings will have the 2nd overall pick, I sure hope they draft Kalil, if he comes out early, which I’m sure he will.

  19. By Twoodsnvikes on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    There are at least 3 teams that will be desperate for a QB and will trade great value for our number 2 pick, don’t be surprised for the vikes to trade down. Kalil will be a great OT, but we have so many needs I think it will be a good move if the price is right.

  20. By Shawn on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    grr this website is so picky with words. Mike Wobs please respect free speech, and choos a program that doesnt censor. So people can actually talk. the fat is most of us would not abuse our right to say what we are trying to communicate and those that choose to be “vulgar” ( which is an individual opinion and should not be a government mandate) anyway those that choose to be “vulgar” will find ways around your censorship

  21. By Shawn on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    yes titus i mispelled stuff again sorry mr proffesor guy sir .. oops i did it again. im having a worser than usual spelling day

  22. By Viking Joe on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Good point Twoodsnvikes, more draft picks would definitely help, if they are within the first 4 rouinds, meaning most players drafted 5th round or higher are usually scrubs or special teamers, though there are exceptions to that rule, in example Terrell Davis and Tom Brady.

  23. By Shawn on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Possible Defensive changes?

    http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/Pelissero_Dysfunction_on_defense_has_Vikings_ripe_for_major_changes121511

  24. By Twoodsnvikes on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    @Viking Joe: Standard draft points would dictate that a fair trade from the 10th spot (like the cards or seahawks who need a QB) to the number 2 spot, would be at least an additional 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round. And if one of those teams is especially enamored with RG3 (the highest rated QB behind Luck) who knows what they would be willing to give up. Once again, look at what the Falcons traded just to get Julio Jones last year (The Atlanta Falcons gave up 2011 and 2012 first round picks, a 2011 second round pick and both 2011 and 2012 fourth round picks) and that was only to make up 800 draft points, versus going from 10 to 2, which is 1300 draft points. So we would be looking at additional 2013 early round picks, which would be most beneficial for trying to rebuild around Ponder

  25. By Shawn on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    heres another article that says 3-4 not likely. all i know is Frazier with talent can make a 4-3 work and maybe Pagac and Singleterry are the problems

    http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/Pelissero_Switching_to_34_defense_not_as_crazy_as_Vikings_may_think111811

  26. By Shawn on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    umm cards will not be looking for a QB … Im also willing to bet TJack get one more year in Seattle b4 they make a change.

  27. By Twoodsnvikes on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Kolb has been a failure along with Tjack, I will not be surprised to see either of them get a QB early. And it was a for example, I’d say Miami is most likely to make a desperation trade followed by the redskins

  28. By Twoodsnvikes on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Tjack get another year since he has a good RB once again to mask his terribleness

  29. By Spencer on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Jared Allen

  30. By Spencer on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Jared Allen never gets sacks in the clutch!

  31. By Spencer on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    ALLEN IS OVERRATED! WHENS THE LAST TIME HE GOT A SACK IN THE 4TH QUARTER WHEN IT MATTERED??????????

  32. By Viking Joe on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    He leads the league with 17.5 sacks,that’s called good, not overrated, maybe the other lineman need to step up, he’s the only Viking with over 5 sacks.

  33. By James on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    The Saints are going to destroy us. Saints 40 Vikings 3

  34. By Viking33 on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    To Comment on the article – ya Graham is good and I hope they know that already, it is not a secret. They should double Graham and Sproles and Colston and that will leave us 5 guys to rush the passer and cover henderson – Moore and Meacham – So I guess that only leaves us two pass rushers, and since we really only have one anyways we should have an extra guy to tackle which ever running back they give it to every 5 or 6 plays. Ready Set Go!! I am also just being sarcastic, so don’t get all “are you dumb?” on me.

  35. By Viking33 on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    I would love to see them grab a bonified STUD with the first pick of the draft. If they can get that, then I say do not trade down. We do have many needs so I wouldn’t blame them if they did though. It is really a shame though, who knew we would be in a position to draft RG3…..man hard to p a s s on that guy for sure – accuracy percentages and Td and yardage numbers are pretty hard to ignore. Be hard not to take a look at that kid, even with Ponder, and I like Ponder – but check out that Green Grass over there – RG3 looks like a Augusta National!!

  36. By Viking33 on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    I am not a fan of Bowe – let him go and do his one trick pony thing for someone else. Every highlight reel of Bowes looks the same – he jumps up and grabs the ball over someone and falls to the ground. He is not a dynamic WR – that is why he has such up and downs games and goes on droughts. Plus I have seen the half hearted attempts a few too many times this season, for a big guy he is kind of a wimp.

  37. By Viking33 on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    If you want a stud WR then grab Blackmon in the 1st round – he is the greatest of a lot of great WR’s coming out in the draft this year. He is the total – total package though! I would compare him to that guy who was the greatest WR in history – four letters in his last name and it doesn’t start with an M – his name ryhmes with our once coach who was also a TE in Purple. (Bad luck to say the name in comparison outloud, look what it did to Moss) In Free Agency we should go after one of the Loefflers Punter Brothers – I am so sick and tired of Devin Hester!!!! He beats us at least once a year – Kluwe can barely fill the uniform, someone needs to tell that guy it is ok to eat a little bit. Looks like the crypt keeper in shoulder pads.

  38. By hippster on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    54-10 even with NO 3rd stringers viking loss, siting on frozen lake much better option even if the fish don’t bite

  39. By Frederick Jones on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    ATTENTION ALL VICE PRESIDENTS OF THE VIKINGS:

    IT MIGHT BE WISE TO CHANGE YOUR DRAFTING PROCEDURES.

    WE DON’T NEED ANYMORE RUNNING BACKS, TIGHT ENDS, OR DEFENSIVE ENDS…DUDE!

    WE NEED OFFENSIVE LINEMEN AND DEFENSIVE BACKS!!!

  40. By Puckertrucker on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Attention All Drafting VPS your all fired pick up your last check, and make way for a new GM and great Head coach. One that doesn’t want to hire friends that were old Bear Players, Philly Players or coaches from Philly. When the Vikings hire a GM and New Coaching Staff maybe they can return to greatness of yesteryear and bring home a SuperBowl Trophy and a new fear of the old Vikings Squads of the 60’s led by J Allen and Company.

  41. By purplegoldman on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    The top WR in this years draft is Malcom Floyd of Notre Dame. Look what he has accomplished on a team that is run oriented. Plus Floyd had horrible QB’s throwing to him. M Floyd, Hands down the best WR in the draft.

  42. By DrinkHeavyVikingFans on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    The Stains are a bunch of cheap shot artists..I’m just hoping that our defense actually shows up for once and gives Drew Brees and Co. the severe beat down they deserve..keep plenty of em’ cold guys, we’re gonna need it this week..

  43. By Dueyz on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Min – 21 NO – 38

  44. By Dueyz on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    I’d love to see 69 pick up 3 – 4 more sacks in this game, regardless of the foreseeable outcome.

  45. By Puckertrucker on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    To the Fans:
    The only thing we are going to see this weekend is Ponder throwing an out pattern to our wideouts and the Saints taking it back to the house. I have watched with concern in Ponders playing he telegraphs ever pass he makes and He doesn’t have a strong enough arm to throw back accross the field. We put Webb in last week and He brought us to within one last play of winning. In my estimation that is why he is not playing this week he plays to well and Frazier wants us to lose. Otherwise Frazier would have started Webb at QB he is a better option against the Saints than ponder at this juncture at least we know he can run for TDs at the slightest hint of trouble with the defense gettiing to him. Don’t get me wrong but Ponder was thrown in the fracus to soon he may be the future of this team, but Webb hasn’t even had a good chance to show just what he is capable of doing. Even in the games he played last year and of those he at least won three games. I think he should be given a break and a chance to show just what he can do against the saints this week.

    The One and Only PuckerTrucker!!!!!!!!Skol Fan.

  46. By CanadianVF on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    Once again as I have said many times this season, our coaching staff has been getting exposed and they just are not up to coaching at this level. More evidence has emerged this week with Pagac identified that he has lost the respect of the defensive players and they have been ignoring his defensive play calling. I have said numerous times is it the talent or the system or both? It must be tough as a player because this is their living to be continuallly embarassed on television and in front of home town fans when they get burned time and again. If this is true and I believe it is then the last three games are not going to be pretty. Football requires discipline and if the players have quit on you and you have lost the room you are in big trouble. It is a pretty sad state of affairs when tne only reason we will be bringing Frazier back next year is because we still owe money on Childress contract till after 2012 , therefore we cannot go get a Steve Fisher or a Bill Cowher, men with proven track records in the NFL. Pathetic, I cannot believe it has come to this. You can go on and on about who we should draft and the stadium we should build, but it will not matter at all in my opinion if we do not have the right people giving leadership to the organization. We are going to end up wandering around in mediocrity for an extended period of time and outstanding talents like an Adrian Peterson or a Percy Harvin or a Jared Allen will never realize their championship aspirations because of it. Sorry to be on such a downer, but I love the Vikings and this is painfull to watch. Peace Out !

  47. By DuaneN on Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

    You’re optimistic enough to think the Vikings could actually get Fisher or Cowher.

  48. By Regfan on Dec 18, 2011 | Reply

    You mean Asher Allen hasn’t turned this game around?

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