Vikings Tab LB Ross Homan As Final 6th-Round Pick

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 30, 2011 – 3:03 pm

The Vikings selected 4 players in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft, with the final selection being LB Ross Homan out of Ohio State. It sound like Homan was a leader of the Buckeyes defense and was also a valuable contributor on special teams.

Homan joins a Vikings team that has a former LBs coach Fred Pagac as the defensive coordinator and Mike Singletary as the LBs coach.

Here is the scouting report on Homan: “Homan is an undersized linebacker with good speed that could potentially develop into a starter on the weak side. He runs very well and shows the ability to chase running backs down from behind. He is a smooth athlete that makes plays in space and flashes the ability to mirror tight ends and running backs in man coverage. However, he lacks the strength and shedding ability to be a run stopper at the next level and can be a non-factor on running plays directed at him. Homan has the skills to be a quality Tampa 2 linebacker and will likely be a middle round pick.”

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Pagac Excited To Get “Versatile” Player In Ballard

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 30, 2011 – 10:51 am

The Vikings selected offensive players with their first 2 picks of this year’s draft, so you can bet the defensive coaching staff was pleased to add a player like DL Christian Ballard with the team’s first pick on Saturday.

“He’s a total player,” Vikings defensive coordinator Fred Pagac said when I asked what he liked about Ballard in evaluating the University of Iowa product. “He comes from a program that plays good defense and produces a lot of NFL players and we’re excited about getting him.”

At 6-4, 283 pounds, Ballard has the size to battle offensive linemen in the trenches but he also possesses the quickness to get past them and be a disruptive force in the offensive backfield. Ballard spent the first 2 years of his career at left DE before moving inside and starting all 13 games of his junior season at DT. In his final season, Ballard rotated often at both spots, starting 8 contests on the outside and 5 more inside.

I have a feeling he’ll be more of an interior lineman with the Vikings, but it’s a luxury to have a guy who can slide to the outside should a need arise there. I’d also expect Ballard to be a core contributor on special teams as a rookie in 2011.

Here are a few stats from Ballard’s official bio: Ballard started 39 of 49 games for Iowa (21 at left defensive end, 18 at defensive tackle)…Recorded 153 tackles (60 solos) with 12.0 sacks for minus 78 yards and 21.5 stops for losses totaling 99 yards…Forced 2 fumbles and blocked 1 field goal attempt…Deflected 3 passes and tallied 10 QB pressures.

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Reaction From Musgrave, Pagac, Priefer And Singletary

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 19, 2011 – 4:43 pm

The Vikings announced the hiring of 3 assistant coaches on Wednesday, as new head coach Leslie Frazier continues to round out his staff. We’ve rounded up reaction from a few of those assistant coaches as they begin the next stage of their careers with the Vikings.

Bill Musgrave
“The organization is first class all the way and Leslie Frazier is first class all the way. The players on the offensive side of the ball are very attractive to be associated with. I’m looking forward to utilizing their strengths to get fantastic results. The offensive weapons on this squad are impressive. We as a staff will look forward to utilizing each and every one of them to attack defenses. I first met Leslie about 10 years ago when he was in Philadelphia and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. I look forward to working with him here and moving forward.”

Fred Pagac
“I’m very excited for the opportunity and I think we can get on the right track quickly. I’m excited about our players and staff and think that keeping continuity is very important. It helps everyone involved, the players and coaches both. The players know us, what our expectations are and we have a staff that works well together.”

Mike Priefer
About joining the Vikings: “I’m honored to come to the Minnesota Vikings organization and to work with Coach Frazier. I’m excited to work with the rest of the coaching staff, players and the entire organization. It is a great opportunity for me and I know my family is excited about getting up there and I’m ready to help us win a championship.”

On Current Special Teams Players: “The punting situation is outstanding. We have a great snapper in Cullen Loeffler and have had a great kicker in Ryan Longwell over the years. I have kind of been envious of the core special teams guys here in Minnesota. We had some good players in Denver but I know there are some outstanding players there in Minnesota and I look forward to working with them.”

Scoring on special teams and his style of play: “I have put more of an emphasis on the coverage units. We did a lot of good things in Denver the past couple of years but the scoring (on special teams) has a lot to do with the guys that we have on the units and obviously on the returner. If you have a good returner you have a great opportunity to score or at least give your offense great field position every single time you go out there. That is going to be a big thing working with Percy Harvin, Lorenzo Booker and Greg Camarillo. For me I like to emphasize; toughness, discipline, enthusiasm and effort. Those are the four core words that I use when I talk about special teams play.”

Playing at Mall of America Field: “I’m very excited to play at Mall of America Field, especially late in the year. Having a domed stadium is a definite advantage I think for both teams. You have to look at it as a kicking advantage for your guys that do that every week. Also you have to understand that the people coming in are going to change what they do slightly. I’ve always had a little bit of a different game plan when playing indoors.”

Mike Singletary
“It’s a great honor and a tremendous opportunity that I would have a chance to coach with Leslie,” Singletary said. “He’s a quality coach and I know that to be a part of something that he’s doing is special. When I look at what they have put together as an organization they have a lot of the pieces in place to do some special things. I’m excited to come there and be a part of that and help take it to the next level.”

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Pagac, Winfield Go Back To School To Stymie Eagles Explosive Offense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 29, 2010 – 7:32 am

When the Vikings named Leslie Frazier interim head coach, the entire defensive staff had to step up with added responsibility. Frazier, of course, has been the Vikings defensive coordinator since 2007 but his new role as interim head coach doesn’t allow him to focus exclusively on the defense.

The Vikings defensive staff has responded well, particularly LBs coach Fred Pagac. He’s assumed much of the play-calling duties for Frazier’s defense and he might have done his best work on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. And it was more than just playcalling – it was the formulation of the game plan all week as well.

In coming away with an impressive and decisive 24-14 win over the NFC East-champion Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, the Vikings stymied one of the league’s most explosive offenses. The Eagles came in averaging 29.4 points per game, thanks in large part to one of the most dynamic weapons in the game of football – QB Mike Vick. He’s taken the NFL by storm in 2010 and is a legitimate MVP candidate because of his ability as a passer – a 20/5 TD-to-INT ratio – but also his rushing ability – more than 6.0 yards per carry with 9 TDs.

But he didn’t take the Vikings by storm. And it was an “old-school” approach by Pagac that led to the Vikings ability to contain Vick. Not old-school as in old-fashioned, but old-school as in how Pagac slowed down opposing offenses when he was coaching at Ohio State when CB Antoine Winfield was a standout there.

On Tuesday night, Pagac called a barrage of blitzes and pressures, frequently using DBs and LBs to rush Vick and make him uncomfortable. Pagac’s ace in the hold was CB Antoine Winfield, perhaps the surest-tackling CB in the entire NFL and arguably the Vikings best playmaker. Winfield came up huge on Tuesday night, tallying a sack on the game’s 2nd play and then registering a game-changing play late in the 2nd quarter.

On the play, Winfield blitzed off the corner and sacked Vick, causing him to fumble. Winfield then spotted the ball, got up off the ground scooped the ball and sprinted 45 yards for a TD to tie the game at 7 just before halftime. The Vikings went into the locker room with momentum and were able to expand the lead early in the 3rd quarter.

“That was the game plan,” Winfield said. “Coach told me, ‘We’re going to send you off the edge. Just contain [Vick]. Come up high because we know he likes to spin out.’ He did a great job of calling them. I tried to execute.”
The Star Tribune’s Chip Scoggins noted that Winfield joked that Pagac “took me back to Ohio State” with his playcalling because Pagac was Winfield’s defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
“That’s what I used to do when he was the coordinator for the Buckeyes,” Winfield said. “Whenever my number is called, I’m going to go out there and give maximum effort and I made some plays.”

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All Defensive Coaches Will See Role Increase

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 24, 2010 – 12:08 pm

We mentioned this morning that one topic sure to arise in interim head coach Leslie Frazier’s first weekly Wednesday press conference was that of the role of defensive coordinator. Since Frazier was the team’s coordinator prior to the change, that role is now technically vacated and it’s a pivotal role as the team prepares a game plan for its opponent each week.

When asked about it this morning, Frazier said that no titles will officially change but that LBs coach Fred Pagac will become the “lead guy.” At the same time, though, Frazier stressed on multiple occasions that all of the defensive coaches’ roles – specifically those of DL coach Karl Dunbar and DBs coach Joe Woods – will increase.

“Fred will handle the brunt of things,” Frazier explained, “but he’ll get input from Joe, he’ll get input from Karl, obviously I’ll have some input on what they’re doing. But he’s going to be the lead guy; he’ll give direction. He’ll give direction in meetings [and] on the field; he’ll be the lead guy.”

In terms of actually making calls and communicating those calls to players on the field, Frazier indicated that Pagac will fill that role and also that the entire process will be more inclusive than when Frazier was the coordinator.

“Yes, with some assistance from our secondary coach and d-line (coach),” Frazier said of whether Pagac will call defensive plays. “They’re (assistant coaches) going to see some things and say ‘Hey think about this.’ It’ll be probably a little more inclusive than it was when I was doing it on game day.”

Speaking of game day, that’s where Frazier’s role will obviously change the most. He’ll be responsible for all game management issues, from guiding all 3 phases of the team to challenging plays to making decisions on whether to punt or go for it on a 4th-and-short situation. As a result, Frazier will rely on his defensive staff to take care of extra responsibilities so he isn’t tied to one side of the ball.

“Between Fred, Joe and Carl, they’ll handle those calls and put our defense in the best position to be successful,” Frazier said. “I have complete faith and trust in them, just like I do with Bev (offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell). And we’ll get it done.”

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