Bill Huber: While Gus Frerotte isn't making people forget about that Tarkenton guy, the Vikings are 4-2 with him as the starter. How much more dangerous is the Vikings offense with Frerotte compared to the scattershot Tarvaris Jackson, who played so poorly in the opener at Lambeau?
Tim Yotter: The numbers don't lie, at least in this case. In Jackson's two starts at the beginning of the year, he threw for 178 and 130 yards, the first one coming against the Packers. His passer ratings were 59.0 and 73.3. Since Frerotte took over, his yardage totals have been 204, 266, 222, 296, 298 and 182. While he still hasn't erased the fact that the Vikings haven't had a 300-yard passer in the Brad Childress era, Frerotte has come close and played pretty well. In fact, his lowest yardage total was 182 last week, but that was also the highest passer rating for the Vikings this season.
The coaches seem to have more confidence in Frerotte's ability to run the offense and hit on passes down the field. That's been a key in scoring points in the last four games with defenses continuing to concentrate on stopping the No. 2 rushing attack in the league.
BH: Adrian Peterson took the NFL by storm last season, and while he's certainly putting up big numbers again, he seems to be mortal. What are defenses doing to – sort of, kind of – keep Peterson under control?
TY: As I mentioned in the last answer, they continue to concentrate on Peterson first. Eventually, if Frerotte and Bernard Berrian keep up their pace of the last four games, in which Berrian has had three 100-yard games, then maybe defenses start to loosen up at the line of scrimmage. But no one – including the coaching staff and players – is expecting that.
Peterson has actually been a little more consistent this season, with only one game with less than 75 yards and five with more than 100, but he just hasn't had the monster 200-yard games that he pulled off twice last year. He's been close to breaking a number of runs, but to this point he only has one run over 50 yards.
TY: He sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder in the first half of Sunday's game against the Houston Texans. While he returned to that game after reportedly taking a pain-killing injection at halftime, his status for this week is certainly up in the air and likely will be until game time. His shoulder was wrapped in ice after the game, but he didn't seem to be in terrible pain while conducting interviews. As for on the field, he has been coming on strong lately, getting two sacks in each of the last two games to raise his total to seven for the season. Even before that, he was consistently giving great effort and hurrying the quarterback even if he wasn't getting to him. And his addition to the Pro Bowl-studded defensive line has helped Kevin Williams get the occasional single-team, helping him to seven sacks so far this season.
As you said, Allen can talk a big game, but he just loves to play – and talk. However, he admitted that he hasn't had great success against Chad Clifton. So if the Vikings do lose him for this game because of the shoulder injury, it might not hurt quite so much. Overall, I just think Rodgers played lights-out in that game, and the Packers had a great quick-release plan to neutralize the pass rush.
BH: What's the latest on the possible suspensions to defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams? If they're out against Green Bay, do the Vikings have anyone capable of filling in?
TY: It's seems unlikely that the Williamses will be suspended for this game since they were at the Vikings' Winter Park training facility Monday, and the NFL typically has suspended players stay away for the full week before a game in which they can't play. The latest indications are that their reported suspensions are under appeal, and if they did indeed test positive for Bumetanide like the Saints players that have appealed their cases, it will be interesting to see how the NFL handles that.
The argument is that StarCaps, which suspended sales last week, didn't list Bumetanide as an ingredient and marketed the pill as an all-natural weight-loss solution. While the players are ultimately responsible for what's in their bodies, it would seem harsh to hand down a four-game suspension to players who truly believed they were taking an all-natural weight-loss pill. The issue with Bumetanide is that it is listed as a potential masking agent. But look at Pat Williams. Do you think he's `roiding? I doubt it.
BH: How much pressure is on Brad Childress? Is it playoffs-or-unemployment for the former University of Wisconsin offensive coordinator?
TY: We'll have to wait and see how the rest of the season plays out, but that has been my feeling all along. The ownership has spent heavily to build a winner, and if the Vikings finish at 8-8 again, it will be three straight non-winning seasons for Childress – a coach who took over a 9-7 team from 2005 and called it the plum opening in the NFL at the time. He has to show progress. So far, it appears that the offense is getting better, but they still have several issues they need to address for the future.
If they don't make the playoffs, it will be hard to justify to the fan base why Childress should stay around for a fourth season. They have struggled to sell out in the last two seasons and are looking for a new stadium. Another non-playoff team this year, status quo on the coaching staff probably isn't going to sell a ton of hope for the fans next year.
To read Part II of this three-part series, where Bill answers five questions from Tim, Click Here.