Expect Rotation With Schwartz To Continue

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 16, 2012 – 9:40 am

When the Vikings signed Geoff Schwartz this past offseason, the thinking was he could perhaps compete for a starting position at right guard while also providing depth on each side of the offensive line as a swing tackle. An injury slowed his progression during training camp, though, so the Vikings didn’t get a great look at the free agent signing before the season started.

With the season in full swing now, though, the Vikings are starting to take a closer look at the reserve lineman. They rotated Schwartz into Sunday’s game at Washington, inserting him into the lineup at right guard for several snaps.

“We wanted to be able to take a look at Geoff (Schwartz) yesterday and get him some game action,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said on Monday. “Yesterday allowed us to do that, and we want to be able to do it periodically. We felt like that was a good game to do it and it worked out pretty good to get him, I think he had about 11 snaps, so we got some good game-action tape that we couldn’t get in the preseason to evaluate him and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

So, how did Schwartz do in his first extended regular season action as a Viking?

“In those plays, I thought he did a good job, good enough to where we feel comfortable if something were to happen, we could get him in there,” Frazier said. “But there are some other things we want to be able to see from him, but we’ll continue to evaluate him as we go forward.”

Frazier stopped short of saying the right guard competition was suddenly open for competition. Brandon Fusco is the starter there, and the second-year player out of Slippery Rock is playing well so far. More than illustrating displeasure in Fusco’s performance or trying to shake things up along the offensive line, the Vikings goal in rotating Schwartz in seems to be exactly what Frazier stated – just to get a look at a player who hasn’t seen much action on the offensive line since signing in Minnesota.

Frazier intimated the Vikings may continue to rotate Schwartz in during games, though he didn’t say if it’d be at right guard or a different position.

Schwartz measures in at 6-6, 340 pounds and is in his 5th season out of the University of Oregon. He was a 7th-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2008 and played in 32 games with 19 starts. He missed all of last season with an injury. Schwartz’ young brother, Mitchell, was a 2nd-round pick of the Cleveland Browns last April.

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Frazier Says Vikings Will Go Through Red Zone Offense With “Fine-Toothed Comb”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 16, 2012 – 6:17 am

One of the main takeaways from the Vikings 38-26 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday was how different the game could’ve been had the Vikings been able to convert more of their red zone opportunities into touchdowns rather than field goals, particularly three drives in the 1st quarter that all resulted in field goals of 27 yards or less.

The Vikings have not been horrible in the red zone this season. They’ve made 22 trips inside the opponent’s 20-yardline, and have come away with 21 scores. The only issue is that just 11 of those 22 trips to the red area have resulted in touchdowns. The Vikings rank middle of the road (tied for 17th) in red zone (TD) scoring efficiency (50%), so there’s no cause for panic on the issue. But on Monday while meeting with reporters, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier did emphasize the importance of the Vikings scoring more touchdowns in the red zone.

“We really stress not kicking field goals and trying to get touchdowns,” Frazier said. “Even if we get one touchdown in one of those three situations (against Washington in the 1st quarter), it’s probably going to affect the way they’re going to call the game on the other side at that point. But it didn’t happen, so yes, we’re going to go through it with a fine-toothed comb on what we could have better.”

The immediate reaction many outside the team had to the Vikings red zone woes on Sunday was to blame the playcalling. It’s a convenient complaint to register because fans and other outside observers can more distinguish the difference between a run and a pass than they can analyze the blocking performance of a lineman or the route-running technique of a receiver. But Frazier wasn’t willing to pin the issue on one aspect of his team, preferring instead to take a more global look and make comprehensive improvements.

“When that happens, when you get thwarted like we did in the red zone, you look at everything,” Frazier said. “What we’re calling, the plays that we’re running, how we’re running those plays.

“We did some things that we thought would give us the best chance to be successful. We go through our red zone study each week and we put together some plays that we think will help us get the results that we want. It didn’t happen yesterday. We’ll continue to do the things we have to do to try to improve but you can always come back and say ‘maybe you should have done this, should have done that.’ We thought we had a good plan. They did a good job on defense of keeping us out of the end zone.”

And if all goes according to plan moving forward, it will be the Vikings who have a good plan in the red zone and opponents who will be saying the opposition did a good job of getting into the end zone. This week is a good week for the Vikings to improve in this area because on Sunday they’ll play an Arizona Cardinals defense that ranks 5th in red zone defense.

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