This should be interesting.
The Vikings are too far into their season to make any major changes, but new coach Leslie Frazier certainly could alter things and cause the Redskins some big-time headaches.
Let's just say the Vikings might do some things that aren't on film.
Keep in mind Brett Favre and Brad Childress never saw eye-to-eye on how the Vikings' version of the West Coast offense should run. With Childress out of the picture, it largely now will be offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Favre running the show.
Frazier was the Vikings' defensive coordinator, and while he's certainly sitting in on offensive meetings, that doesn't mean he's going to try to take control of that area.
It wouldn't be surprising to see the Vikings attempt to open it up a bit, take a few more downfield shots and run the West Coast system more along the lines of how Favre did it in Green Bay. Bevell spent time as Favre's quarterbacks coach with the Packers, so they are very much on the same page.
Working in the Vikings' favor is that Washington's defense is ranked last in the NFL, including 29th against the pass and 27th against the run.
Frazier will remain very involved in the defense, but linebackers coach Fred Pagac essentially will assume the duties of coordinator. Don't be surprised if the Vikings begin to blitz a little bit more in order to make quarterbacks, such as the Redskins' Donovan McNabb, uncomfortable in the pocket.
Rookie cornerback Chris Cook and second-year corner Asher Allen struggled in a big way against Green Bay last Sunday — Cook was benched for most of the second half — and Frazier has indicated he's going to try to tweak things a bit to help the corners out and make sure there isn't a repeat performance.
Despite losing RB Clinton Portis, C Casey Rabach and G Derrick Dockery (playing because of an injury to Artis Hicks), the Redskins racked up a season-high 465 yards (376 passing) in last week's 19-16 overtime survival test at Tennessee. With Portis and Ryan Torain out, rookie free agent back Keiland Williams will make his second straight start. That could put more pressure on QB Donovan McNabb to produce through the air against a Minnesota defense that is stronger against the run with DTs Pat Williams and Kevin Williams. WR Santana Moss (57 catches, 738 yards) and TE Chris Cooley (49, 554 yards) could have big days against a Vikings secondary that features two young starters, but LT Trent Williams needs to keep Minnesota RDE Jared Allen in check.
Washington's defense is still ranked last, but it rebounded from a hideous performance against Philadelphia, when it allowed five touchdowns in the first 15:09, to keep Tennessee out of the end zone last week (the Titans scored on a punt return) despite playing without SS LaRon Landry and C Carlos Rogers. LBs Lorenzo Alexander and Rocky McIntosh and DE Kedric Golston could join them on the shelf this week.
With QB Brett Favre, 41, struggling, Minnesota relies even more on RB Adrian Peterson, the NFC's top rusher. LG Steve Hutchinson is the standout up front for the Vikings, who are a shocking 3-7 after reaching the 2009 NFC Championship Game. Minnesota will be playing its first game under interim coach Leslie Frazier.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings CBs Asher Allen or Chris Cook vs. Redskins WR Santana Moss, who leads the team with 57 receptions for 738 yards and three touchdowns. Allen and Cook were both brutal last Sunday against the Packers, but the Vikings have little option but to use one of them unless they want to employ more of Frank Walker or Lito Sheppard. Cook started last Sunday at right corner, and Allen then entered in the nickel as solid veteran Antoine Winfield moved inside. Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier indicated he might tweak some things on defense to help his young cornerbacks out, but they also must flat out play better or Moss is going to have a big game.
Vikings DE Jared Allen, who had a sack last Sunday and now has 6.5 on the season, vs. Redskins LT Trent Williams, who was the fourth overall pick in the draft last April. Allen has 5.5 sacks in the past three games and could prove to be a good test for Williams, who has been reliable in his rookie season. The Redskins could elect to give Williams help at times against Allen, but the issue there is left end Ray Edwards has four sacks in the past three games, and he could take advantage of a one-on-one matchup.
Redskins LB London Fletcher vs. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson. In their only previous matchup, Fletcher and the Redskins held then-rookie standout Peterson to 27 yards on nine carries. Peterson leads the NFC with 980 rushing yards, 1,277 yards from scrimmage and 65 first downs. Fletcher is the top tackler for a 27th-ranked run defense that might be without injured fellow run-stoppers LaRon Landry (already out), Rocky McIntosh and Kedric Golston.
Redskins LT Trent Williams vs. Vikings DE Jared Allen. Williams, the fourth overall pick in April's draft, has faced a seemingly endless string of elite pass rushers during his rookie season: DeMarcus Ware, Mario Williams, Trent Cole, Clay Matthews, Dwight Freeney, Julius Peppers and now Allen, who led the NFC with 14.5 sacks in 2009 and whose 58½ sacks the last five seasons rank second to Ware's 65.
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