Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell was asked Monday if he had any thoughts on the NFC North race. He had none, for good reason.
"To be honest, I've been too busy with this team," Cottrell said with a laugh. "I've got my own things to work on."
The Vikings' pass defense ranks last in the NFL (293.8) after giving up 288 yards passing after halftime in last week's near total collapse in Houston. The Vikings led 21-0 in the third quarter when the Texans abandoned the run, lined up with four wideouts and torched the Vikings' nickel defense.
Andre Johnson caught 12 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. David Carr completed 27 of 43 passes for 372 yards, three touchdowns and a 113.7 passer rating.
Head coach Mike Tice looked at his defense closely Monday and Tuesday and determined Cottrell's approach wasn't as aggressive as he thought it was during training camp.
"I think we have to learn as we progress to have a little bit more of a killer instinct," Tice said of the defense. Although we got after (Carr) pretty good with our front four, I think we also have to be a little more aggressive in some of the things we call and get after them a little bit more. At the same time, we have to go out there and challenge receivers throughout the course of the game and be closer in coverage."
Up front, the Vikings rarely brought a fifth pass rusher. The front four produced four sacks, but most of the pass plays resulted in Houston's five offensive linemen stuffing the Vikings' four pass rushers.
The Vikings need to send a linebacker or an occasional cornerback off the end to juice up the pass rush.
The Vikings also need to play tighter pass coverage and consider shadowing the opponent's top receiver with Antoine Winfield, the cornerback they paid $35 million for in free agency.
Like a lot of teams, the Vikings don't believe in shadowing the top receiver with one player. Sunday, Johnson got too many of his catches and both touchdowns against nickel corner Terrence Shaw, who wasn't even with the team at the start of the season.
Shaw isn't a bad player, but he's not as good as Winfield or Brian Williams. He had good coverage on one of Johnson's touchdowns, but he gave up the other after Johnson lulled him into thinking the play was over.
The Vikings got away with poor pass defense this time. But they can't count on the offense bailing them out every time they get in trouble.
Defensive Aggression To Increase
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