Scouting Report: Minnesota Vikings

In-depth scouting report on the Minnesota Vikings as Detroit prepares for its Week 12 battle.


Strengths -- Minnesota has the top rated offense in the NFL, averaging 385 yards per game.  Quarterback Daunte Culpepper has thrown for 2000 yards and 16 touchdowns this season.  However, his passing success can be credited to more than just his arm.  As a scrambling quarterback, he has the ability to buy time for his receivers to get open or run for a large chunk of yardage.  He has 232 yards and four touchdowns on the ground thus far in the season.  At 6'4 260, he is willing to take on most linebackers for the extra yard to reach first down.  After Culpepper comes the running back committee of Moe Williams, Onterrio Smith, and a healthy Michael Bennett.  Williams, once considered a short-yardage and goal line back, has dispelled that notion, as he has averaged 4.7 yards per carry this season.  Bennett, who is coming off of a foot injury, is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.  All three backs are dangerous as receivers out of the backfield, too.  Lastly, who could forget about Mr. Randy Moss?  Moss is one of, if not, the premier wideout in the league.  He is a prototypical receiver: tall, fast, strong, great hands, and a great route runner. 

Weaknesses -- Part of the Vikings' four-game slide is because of the decision making of Daunte Culpepper. Through his first four games, Culpepper had no interceptions and only fumbled five times, a vast improvement over his play the first four weeks of last season (eight interceptions and eight fumbles). However, over the past four games, he has thrown six interceptions and lost three fumbles.  Last week against Oakland, he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and another one when his team was buried deep in their own territory.  Sometimes, Daunte tries to do too much when his team is down or even in a close game. 


Strengths -- Safeties Corey Chavous and Brian Russell have seven and six interceptions respectively. Chavous, a former cornerback, has reaped the rewards of switching to the safety position.  He is able to roam in coverage more often, and at around 210 pounds, can lay the wood on a running back breaking up the middle of the field.  Both safeties are ball hawks, in that they are always in the area of the ball, no matter where at on the field.  Former Lion linebacker Chris Claiborne is sixth in the NFC in tackles with 72.  Claiborne has also been in on three sacks, one interception, and has five passes defensed. 

Weaknesses -- A rumor began to swirl after the Green Bay game in week eight.  "You can run on them," said one ESPN NFL expert after Ahman Green and the Packers put up 261 rushing yards.  The following week, LaDainian Tomlinson scorched the Vikes for 162 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries.  Last week, Tyrone Wheatley ran for 109 yards and a score, while the rest of his team had 82 and two.  Those ball hawking safeties Chavous and Russell are now mixed in with the linebackers to stop the run, and teams are able to go over the top of the crammed line of scrimmage.  If the run is unable to be stopped, then the passing game starts to open up and large gains began to eat away at the Vikings' seemingly now hapless defense. 

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