Notebook: RB's Success Helps Motivate Taylor

The Vikings were likely to stick with the rushing game on Sunday either way, but Chester Taylor always likes to outrush his opposing counterpart. Plus, get statistical analysis on the Vikings' running game and results of an NFL poll.

Buffalo Bills running back Willis McGahee is coming off the league's highest rushing performance of the season after rolling up 150 yards against the New York Jets last Sunday, and that offers a bit of motivation for Vikings running back Chester Taylor.

"It ain't about outdoing, that's just my competitive nature. I go into every game to see whatever I can do to help my team win and also try to outrush my opponent," Taylor told Viking Update. "So far, it's been working out good. I just go out there and play hard and work hard, and it usually works out the best for me."

The matchups of Taylor vs. McGahee, the Vikings' rush offense vs. the Bills' rush offense, are intriguing ones.

McGahee leads the league in rushing yards (311) and the AFC in yards from scrimmage (344), while Taylor leads the league in carries (75) and is sixth in the NFC in yards from scrimmage (348), one spot ahead of McGahee in the overall league rankings.

While the Vikings have had a commitment to the running game despite Taylor averaging only 3.7 yards per carry, he likes his newfound workhorse role after four years as a backup in Baltimore.

"I love getting the ball. It's good knowing my team is depending on me to help us win, so I don't mind getting that many carries," he said. "Being the backup for four years, not knowing if you're going to get any carries or not, it's a lot different. I like it better now."

This week, the Vikings will be going against another Tampa-2 scheme, the Buffalo Bills' version under head coach Dick Jauron.

The Vikings played against Jauron's former team, the Chicago Bears, last Sunday, marking that the first of several Tampa-2 schemes Minnesota will face in the coming months. That's hardly a surprise, considering two of their division opponents, the Bears and Lions are running that same base defense this year.

"Chicago is really going to try to stop the run and have more than eight guys around the box. It's a similar style this week with the Chicago-style defense again," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said of Buffalo's defense. "We're still going to try to run the ball, but our passing game has got to help us to be able to do that.

Taylor's carries have gone down in each of his three games with the Vikings so far - he started the season opener with 31 rushes, then went to 24 against Carolina before sliding down to 20 against Chicago - but the Vikings appear intent on trying to continue running the ball no matter what defense they face.

"I believe every defense, the main goal is to try to stop the run. That's why we have eight-man boxes, sometimes nine," Taylor said. "It's all about execution. If we get our blocking schemes right and execute, I believe we can run the ball on them. It's going to take the passing game, too, to open it up for the run. We've just got to work together on that."

The passing game has been amazingly consistent with the number of attempts - 30, 32 and 31 - in the first three games, but the running game is what the Vikings are relying on so far to make the offense go. The results have been mixed.

They have the second fewest (46) first downs in the conference, beating only Tampa Bay. League-leading Indianapolis has 70 first downs. Some of that has to do with the Vikings being ranked 21st in yards per rush with a 3.55-yard average, but a clear indicator that the team is getting in bad third-down situations is the fact that they have only nine rushes in third-down situations compared to 38 pass plays.

But Taylor is still expected to be a big part of the game plan as long as he's healthy.

"I just try to keep my body fresh and do the little things," he said.


In three games, Mewelde Moore has rushed only six times and caught six passes. That might be strong evidence of him being moved into a reserve role behind Taylor, but Bevell still considers Moore an important aspect of the offense.

"He's an important part of the team," Bevell said. "I know right now his main role is punt returner, but we've thrown him in there on third downs and he had some nice, big runs for us last week. He has the opportunity to make big plays when he gets the ball, so we've got to find a way to get him in there."

Moore is currently ranked 24th in the league in punt returns with a 6.5-yard average.


The Vikings gave away the game against Chicago, fumbling late in the fourth quarter with a four-point lead, a turnover that directly led to Chicago's game-winning touchdown pass.

On the play, center Matt Birk wasn't able to get to his assignment, defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who caused Taylor's fumble, but Bevell said the play was close to going all the way for a touchdown.

"I think if you watch the play and it went the way it was designed, he's probably going to hit his head on the goal post or get at least a 20- or 25-yard gain on that play," Bevell said.


A Harris Poll on pro football yielded some interesting results:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers are America's team, followed by the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots.

  • Political affiliation doesn't seem to have much bearing on a person's propensity to enjoy the NFL - 53 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of Independents said they liked the NFL.

  • Race or ethnicity doesn't seem to have an influence either - 49 percent of white people, 48 percent of black people and 42 percent of Hispanics said they liked the NFL.

  • The favorite to win the Super Bowl this season? The Indianapolis Colts.

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