Lurtsema's Reaction: Focus On Defense

The Vikings offense struggled at times this year with all the injuries it had, but the focus this offseason has to be on improving the defense, especially in key areas.

Defense, defense, defense. That has got to be addressed in this 2005 draft and during free agency. The Vikings offense has solidified itself well enough with Daunte Culpepper that he'll always make them competitive, as his leadership qualities are second to none, at least in my short life span. Mike Tice has improved each and every year as a head coach, and handling the Randy Moss situation in the offseason will be a very difficult task for Tice. If he does trade Moss or keep him, Tice is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

But back to defense. I still find it rather difficult to understand how there can be so many mental mistakes in crucial situations. It seems like every time there was a mistake in 2004 the opposing offense took advantage of it. Watching the Philadelphia Eagles defense, everyone seemed to feel that the Vikings should be as aggressive and creative as the Eagles were in the divisional round of the playoffs, but the defensive talent a team possesses dictates to a degree its aggressiveness. I do not believe in the three-man rush and never will, and I've always felt as a player that the front seven has 80 percent control of the entire outcome of a game.

With that importance placed on the defensive linemen and linebackers, they must know where each and every player is on every call. There can be no more lining up improperly or having two players in the same gap. They have to maintain their gap responsibility, and have enough vision and quick enough instincts to make their reads (quickly). I would love to see three or four defensive players around the ball carrier on every play, because at times it seem as if they're saving their energy for the next play.

I couldn't be happier with the defensive coaches staying at their positions for another year, as in the last six years the Vikings have had five different coordinators and constant turnover. With the continuity of the defensive coaches coming back next season, I will guarantee the front seven will shine, without a doubt — with or without one or two new acquisitions.

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