Behind Enemy Lines, Part 2

The Dolphins are set to face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, so we asked Viking Update publisher Tim Yotter for his thoughts. Part 2 focuses on the Minnesota defense.

Q: What has life been like around the Vikings under new head coach Brad Childress?

Yotter: I guess Saban-like might be a good way to describe it. While there was some order needed around the Vikings' complex for sure, Childress has been extremely regimented and disciplinarian. He is also very uptight in dealing with the media, which means less information and probably more off-the-mark reports and analysis. It's a very different atmosphere from the Mike Tice era, and a more uptight one for players and the media. In some instances that's good, but now that they are on a three-game losing streak, I'd guess Childress will start to get ripped pretty good by the columnists, especially if they lay an egg in Miami.

Q: What's the mood in Vikings camp following three consecutive losses?

Yotter: I was surprised by the reaction of players on Monday. I expected a very tense locker room and a very frustrated one. But it almost seems like many of them are beyond that point now and just ready to show people they can play. The players continue to say that they are very close to making something happen on offense and defense, but to this point they haven't shown the consistency there.

Q: Why has Minnesota been so good against the run this season?

Yotter: There are two main reasons. One is Pat Williams' presence at nose tackle. The guy is very stout, but he has incredible quickness for his size and excellent reaction skills. He always seem to be moving the pile toward the running back and has been stuffing the middle running lanes. The other is the quickness of the linebackers and secondary to help close down the outside running lanes. Antoine Winfield is the best tackling cornerback I've ever seen, and a lighter linebacker corps is quick to swarm to the ball.

Q: Conversely, why have they given up so much yardage (particularly lately) through the air?

Yotter: Tom Brady and Brett Favre have each torched the defense. Brady and the Patriots did it by using an empty backfield and four- and five-receiver sets. They basically didn't really try to run against the Vikings, preferring to test the depth in the secondary and it looked too easy. The Packers still tried to keep some balance, but they really exposed the deep middle zones of the defense and had one big (82-yard) catch-and-run that found the seam in the middle of the field after a short slant route. Miami will likely have to have a big day from Joey Harrington if they want to find the end zone consistently.

Q: Do you get a sense that some Vikings players are disappointed they will not get to face Daunte Culpepper on Sunday?

Yotter: It's kind of a strange situation, but because this team is so different from the one that Daunte last played on, I don't really think there is a lot of a strong feelings about it one way or another. Without Nate Burleson or Michael Bennett, and no backup quarterbacks that were here a long time with Culpepper, it's almost like nobody really seems to care that much. It really seems like a long time ago. Even most of the radio shows that I've heard are calling for a current backup to get playing time instead of bemoaning the Culpepper trade. It sounds strange to say that about a former Pro Bowl quarterback, but this team is so different from when Culpepper was still playing that it seems like a non-issue in the locker room.

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