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Analyzing The Vikings Defense

Posted by cjsiewert on December 15, 2010 – 4:33 pm

Aside from the fact that the Vikings suffered a deflating 21-3 loss to the NY Giants last Monday night, the defense played well as it has been since Leslie Frazier took over as interim head coach.

It may not look like any phase of the Vikings team played well by simply looking at the score, but when we take a deeper look into the game, it’s clear that the defense held its own throughout the contest.

Yes, the defense allowed a season-high 213 rushing yards, but if you take away both Giants RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw’s longest runs – 73 and 48, respectively – that number is reduced to 92 yards and 1 less TD since Bradshaw’s 48-yard run in the 3rd quarter was good for a score.

The secondary also played quite well, picking off Giants QB Eli Manning twice in the 1st half. The first INT came on the Giants 3rd play from scrimmage where Vikings CB Frank Walker jumped in front of Giants WR Hakeem Nicks on a seem route down the right hash, picking off Manning’s pass and returning it 10 yards to the NY 34. The turnover resulted in a 31-yard FG by Vikings K Ryan Longwell.

Manning’s second INT came on the Giants 2nd play of the 2nd quarter. Vikings CB Asher Allen established position in front of Giants WR Mario Manningham – who was running a short slant route at midfield – marking Manning’s 11th INT against the Vikings in 5 games. The INT gave the Vikings the ball at their own 41, but they were unable to convert the turnover into points.

To go with the pair of INTs, the Vikings defense allowed Manning to complete a pedestrian 22 of 37 passes (59.5%) for 187 yards and 1 TD. The 59.5 completion percentage was Manning’s 3rd worst of the season. That low completion percentage is a reflection of the Vikings front 4 putting pressure on the Giants QB for much of the game.

Vikings DT Kevin Williams posted a season-high 6 tackles (3 for loss) while DE Jared Allen increased his consecutive games with a sack streak to 5 and now has 9.5 on the season, furthermore establishing his worthiness of a 4th consecutive Pro Bowl nod.

Other positive numbers for the Vikings defense include 6 tackles for a loss for -19 yards while allowing a 23% (3 of 13) 3rd-down efficiency for the Giants.


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Vikings Infirmary Report

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 2, 2010 – 6:41 am

In light of the Vikings decision to part ways with WR Randy Moss, the player whose injury status will be under the spotlight is Sidney Rice, who remains on the PUP list after undergoing hip surgery just before the regular season.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress hasn’t given an indication on how close Rice is to returning and Rice himself has not given a timetable when asked by reporters. Perhaps Childress will be asked about Rice’s status during his regular Wednesday press conference, which you can watch live on vikings.com.

Until then, though, there are other injured Vikings players to talk about and that’s what Childress did during his Monday press conference. Here’s an update on a few of those players…

QB Brett Favre (ankle/foot, chin) – Going into last weekend’ game against the New England Patriots, the big question with Favre was whether or not his injured ankle/foot would allow him to play. Obviously it did, but coming out of the Patriots game the injury concern dramatically shifted from Favre’s ankle/foot to his chin. Favre took a hit directly to the chin and was knocked out of the game in the 4th quarter. The wound required 8 stitches to heal and following the game reporters wondered if Favre had suffered a concussion.

Asked on Monday if there was any doubt Favre would start this weekend’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, Childress said, “I don’t think so. I just saw him in there doing some leg curls. Typically, if you’re concussed we’re not doing any exercise today; we’re not doing an exercise challenge.”

WR Percy Harvin (ankle) – Harvin was the Vikings leading receiver against New England with 6 receptions for 104 yards, but he did all of that after tweaking his ankle in the 1st quarter. It appeared as if Harvin rolled his ankle after making a catch and it was clear he was in pain after the play. Harvin obviously returned and he told reporters after the game that it was adrenaline that enabled him to keep playing.

“He was in there treating as well today,” Childress said. “Sore. How it will be on Wednesday when we come back out here and practice? I’m not sure. He’ll certainly have to treat today or tomorrow.”

CBs Chris Cook and Frank Walker – Both Cook and Walker were banged up late in last weekend’s game and Childress was asked about their status.

“They’re banged up and receiving treatment today,” Childress said. “Hopefully they make it to Wednesday.”


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Vikings Special Teams Unit Continues Solid Season

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 18, 2010 – 7:27 am

It’s easy for special teams play to get lost in the shuffle when evaluating and digesting NFL games. But we won’t let that happen here, not after the Vikings put together perhaps the most complete special teams performance since Brian Murphy took over as coordinator of the unit before the 2009 season.

We’ve mentioned a few times in the vikings.com Blog this season that the special teams unit is playing well, but often times that praise has been easily overlooked because the team got off to a rocky 1-3 start. So now with win #2 on the season in the books, let’s take a quick look at the impact Murphy’s group had on the outcome.

– We’ll begin with the catalyst for the Vikings 2nd-half surge against Dallas. The Vikings went into the locker room at halftime trailing 14-7. But they came out of the locker room in the 2nd half and immediately tied the game when Percy Harvin dashed 95 yards through the middle of the field for a TD. Harvin was virtually untouched on the play, so credit goes to the 10 blockers there. And he did a nice job of sticking his foot in the ground and heading straight upfield.

“Coming out of the half there’s no better way to set the tempo than taking the opening kick back,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said after the game. “It’s a testament to those special teams. You talk about covering people up, I don’t know that Percy broke stride on that return. He set the tempo for us special teams-wise as well as those other 10 guys and then got on the field and got a three-and-out on defense and were able to hold on.”

– As explosive as Harvin was with that return, P Chris Kluwe was every bit as consistent on the day, as he’s been all season. Kluwe had 5 punts on the day for a net average of 41.8. But more importantly, he landed 4 of those 5 punts inside the 20 and 2 of them inside the 10. Of Kluwe’s 5 punts, only 2 of them were returned and Dallas managed just 3 total yards on those 2 returns. That’s outstanding work from Kluwe.

“He’s done a great job of directional punting,” Childress said of Kluwe. “He’s really taken that bit. The other thing he’s doing is kicking with great height and hang-time and I think I’ve mentioned to you guys before the people that do a great job in terms of not having punt returns are the people that are able to hang it up in the air and let our guys go down and cover it. Again, the kicking teams were outstanding.”

– While a lot of credit is due to Kluwe for the lack of Dallas return yardage on Sunday, credit also goes to the Vikings coverage unit. LB Jasper Brinkley tallied 3 special teams tackles on Sunday while the newly-acquired Fran Walker also got in on the action. Dallas returned 5 kickoffs on the day and averaged 16.2 yards per return, a pedestrian average. The most impressive kickoff cover of the day may have been the opening kickoff, when Brinkley smashed Akwasi Owusu-Ansah at the Cowboys 19 after just a 13-yard return. The hit got a great reaction from the crowd that went from “Whoa!” to loud cheers.

– We can’t talk about the Vikings special teams play without talking about K Ryan Longwell, who was perfect on his PAT tries and also hit the game-winning FG in the 4th quarter from 38 yards out. Longwell also appeared to do a nice job on his kickoffs in terms of placing the ball where the coverage team expected him to place it.

– Finally, the best special teams play (aside from Harvin’s return) may have been the last special teams play of the day. The Vikings forced a 3-and-out after Longwell’s 38-yard FG and the offense took over on the MN 25. Four Adrian Peterson runs and a pass interference penalty allowed the Vikings to run over 2 minutes off the clock. Ultimately the Vikings had to punt the ball away with 29 seconds remaining in the game. Kluwe’s punt came down near the Dallas 4, where Dez Bryant received it and tried to make a few moves to pickup yardage. But the Vikings punt team covered the perfectly placed kick well and strung Bryant out. Eventually Bryant was surrounded by the entire coverage team and he was dropped after just a 3-yard gain to the 7. That left the Cowboys with more than 60 yards to gain in 13 seconds to get in FG range, a task too tough to accomplish as the Vikings came away with the 24-21 victory.


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Griffin Placed On IR; Sherels Back On Practice Squad

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 13, 2010 – 3:09 pm

Signing veteran CB Frank Walker wasn’t the only roster business the Vikings conducted on Wednesday.

A roster spot became available because the Vikings placed CB Cedric Griffin on IR.

The team also brought CB Marcus Sherels back to the team and placed him on the practice squad.

 


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Vikings Sign Veteran CB Frank Walker

Posted by cjsiewert on October 13, 2010 – 1:52 pm

The loss of Cedric Griffin left the Vikings with 3 healthy CBs as they prepare to face a pass-happy Dallas offense on Sunday.

But the team added a 4th on Wednesday by signing veteran Frank Walker. The Vikings depth will improve even more if rookie Chris Cook, who is working his way back from a 2nd knee injury, is able to return to the lineup.

Walker – a 7-year veteran – played in 16 games (2 playoff games) for the Baltimore Raven last season, starting 12. He tallied 12 tackles (8 solo) and an INT during his 2009 campaign and has career marks of 134 tackles (117 solo), 3 forced fumbles and 7 INTs – 1 returned for a TD his rookie season with the NY Giants.

“He’s a great competitor,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Wednesday. “I’m familiar with him from when he used to play [with] the (NY) Giants against us (in Philadelphia). I know Leslie (Frazier) talked to John Harbaugh about his competes; he played with the Ravens last year. Ultra-competitive; he ran very well and worked out very well for us here this morning.”

Walker is touted as a solid tackler with great foot speed. He stands at 5-11, 200 pounds and may be an option for special teams coordinator Brian Murphy should Asher Allen or Lito Sheppard become unavailable for kick and punt coverage duty because of an increase in workload following Griffin’s injury.


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Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 29 Comments »