Bill Huber: We all know about the off-the-field stuff and the bum elbow, but even before any of that, Brett Favre didn't look much like the Favre who defied Father Time with a brilliant season last year. What's the story?
Tim Yotter: As with most things, it's probably a combination of factors, not the least of which could be Favre slowly breaking down health-wise – or maybe not so slowly after all. He came in this year with the bum ankle, which I didn't view as big a factor as many because his mobility is pretty much limited to a slide step here or there and not rolling out too often. He is done with the injections he was getting there, but the bigger issue is his elbow. He was badly inaccurate when it counted most late in the loss to the New York Jets, but after getting a cortisone shot to help with that, he appeared to be much better against the Cowboys. However, he took a number of hits early in the Dallas game and it appeared to affect his confidence in getting rid of the ball on time. At this point, it seems like things are starting to come together with his receivers, but his protection seems to be an issue right now.
BH: Randy Moss is a remarkable talent. He could probably roll out of bed when he's 45, put on a jersey and beat some cornerback for a 50-yard touchdown. So it's obvious that he's going to help. But can you talk about the trickle-down effect and how it will impact the rest of the offense?
TY: Moss had an immediate impact with the offense. In his first game two weeks ago against the Jets, he caught a touchdown, and he gives Favre a big target he believes in. Favre likes having that tall receiver that is his security blanket and he didn't have that after Sidney Rice had surgery in the preseason and hasn't played since. Immediately, we've seen Percy Harvin slip open more often in the slot. The one benefit the Vikings haven't seen yet is increased production from tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. In fact, Shiancoe's production has been down in the last three weeks, catching a combined three passes for 35 yards and no touchdowns. The biggest surprise might be how respected Moss has become in the locker room. He gave a halftime speech that seemed to inspire the players against the Cowboys, and Harvin is uber excited to be learning from Moss.
BH: Did Jared Allen send out thank you cards to the Packers during Pro Bowl week with a Miami postmark? He should have, with 7.5 sacks in those two games. Is he still the guy you absolutely have to stop on that front four, and are the rest of those guys playing at an elite level yet?
TY: Overall, the Vikings pass defense has improved, but their sack production is way down. Allen has only one sack through five games and the Vikings, who led the league with 48 sacks last year, are tied for second-to-last with only six sacks this season. The Vikings claim that Allen is still altering the way that blocking schemes are run and they aren't disappointed with his play so far. However, it's clear that there are mounting questions about what is going on with Allen, but it's hard to question it too much when the Vikings as a whole have been playing better on defense.
BH: Vikings' cornerback situation has been a mess. Give us an update of where they're at because the Packers are going to come out slinging it.
TY: And they should be slinging it with Aaron Rodgers. The Cowboys seemed to miss out on a golden opportunity to test the Vikings downfield often, as they changed their offensive approach from the playoff game to get the ball out of Tony Romo's hands as quickly as possible. In last year's playoff game, the Vikings sacked Romo six times, but the Cowboys' approach this season didn't let them take advantage of a thinned secondary without Cedric Griffin or Chris Cook. The Vikings should have Cook back for Sunday night's game, but if the Packers can protect Rodgers sufficiently – we know that's a big question mark – then their best option would be to go three and four wide to press the secondary depth. In addition to Griffin being out for the season, the Vikings might be without starting safety Husain Abdullah, another reason to test the Vikings in the passing game.
BH: The 2-3 record notwithstanding, as long as Favre's arm doesn't fall off, can you see the Vikings being the last team standing in the NFC? That's a great defense and that offense if/when Rice gets back could be all-time good.
TY: They have a chance to do that, but a few things have to change. First, the offense has to find a rhythm. To date, there hasn't enough consistency there and that has led to an offense that is tied for 26th in the league with 17.4 points per game. The issues have been many, as detailed above, but you have to believe that Moss and Favre will only get better, so if the protection is there, Favre should be able to find one of his many weapons – Moss, Harvin, Shiancoe and eventually Rice – for big plays. And that's not taking into account that so far Adrian Peterson seems like a more patient runner who is taking better care of the ball.
Defensively, I think we still need to see how they respond to a team that is willing to just chuck it 70 percent of the time and with the weapons to hurt them. I'm pretty sure they will be tested there in the next two games with the Packers and Patriots, and if they are successful in those contests they should start to gain the confidence that they can make a lasting impression in the playoffs.
Bill Huber is the publisher of Packer Report and Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this hot topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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