Lurtsema's Reaction: OL, DL and Coaching

Former Vikings defensive lineman Bob Lurtsema reacts to questions about the Vikings offense, their offensive and defensive lines, running back Chester Taylor and defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.

VU: Do you think the offense broke out last week or is there still more you want to see out of it before you are convinced?

I was really excited to see the offense when they ran the option with Mewelde Moore throwing that touchdown to Jermaine Wiggins. I loved that call on third-and-15 rather than settle for the three points because they did take a chance. Also, with Brad Johnson going deep a few times against Seattle, I absolutely loved that. I don't love it so much from the standpoint of the fans getting revved up, although it does make the game a lot more fun to watching because they were boring for a while. The thing that it does is puts more pressure on the defense, and I don't think fans really look at it through the eyes of a defensive player. Now, even with that halfback pass from Moore, all of the sudden if they have the coverage - and usually the safety is covering the tight end - inside the 15-yard line, everyone is a lot closer to the line of scrimmage. When you run that pass, that safety or whoever is guarding Wiggins cannot be as aggressive now. In other words, there is less pressure on the run. They've created a less aggressive player, one-eleventh, that can come up and jam that run inside the red zone. The same thing when they ran the reverse one time. I liked that call because that makes a defensive end have to stay home and be less aggressive because he has to cover territory first. All this stuff is going down on film. Every future opponent of the Vikings has to address to these particular plays. And once you address too many of them, you start telling your defense to look out for the option, look out for the reverse, look out for the deep, you become less aggressive and that's a win for the Minnesota Vikings offense.

VU: If they are missing Marcus Robinson for a week or two, do you think they'll be able to establish the deep game with basically only Williamson as the speed guy?

You can establish the deep if you've got guys that run a 6.5 forty as long as they are going down and Brad's letting it go up. Just let them know that you will go deep no matter who you have running the route. In this case, there's a No. 1 draft choice and I forgot who he was from a year ago (dripping sarcasm), I think he's known for his speed. You can line Troy Williamson up anyplace you want, send him deep and let them think about that. If they pick it off, big deal. In the overall game plan, that could happen but you're going to keep your opposing defense a lot less aggressive.

VU: With Pat Williams getting off the snap so quickly, he says he's got a little inside secret as to how he does it but he's not going to tell people. Do you have any insight into how he is so good jumping that snap?

Some of that is a God-given talent. But if you do look at certain quarterbacks or certain linemen, they'll go on the second count all the time. If you're a seasoned veteran, you can guess. Sometimes, he'll pick up on something. Once in a while, you might see a quarterback who squeezes his hand, just pucker a little bit. Some centers will actually squeeze the ball and you'll be able to check their knuckles out and fly off of that. You have to be very careful about that. If you've been around long enough, you can check those things out and that's when you can jump it. But you also have to have some God-given talent. Alan Page was unbelievable how he got off constantly. He could just react that fast. His was hand-eye reaction, pure and simply.

VU: Do you think the offensive line is starting to come together or is there still a ways to go?

I think the offensive line still has a ways to go. They do have the No. 2 running back in the National Football League behind the great Tiki Barber, who is a joy to watch play. But last week, you take away that 95-yarder and he averages 2.9 yards a carry. You could probably do that with a lot of backs, although Tike Barber has never had a longer run than 29 yards this season and he's averaging 5 yards a carry. Taylor is averaging 4.3, but he runs so hard that he makes a lot of those yards on his own rather than have the linemen give him 3 yards. They don't do that - if they give you 3, you can pump out 4 to 5, but if they only give you 1, you've got to fight like hell to get 3. I think every week they're getting better and better, but they're still not to where they could be. That's a plus because you want to improve every game so you can play your best football at the end of the season. It seems like that's the progression they're making at this time.

VU: Are you turning into more of a Chester Taylor fan now?

Yeah, I'm definitely turning into a fan of his because when somebody works that hard constantly and then praises his teammates instead of himself, that's the type of character I truly enjoy in an NFL player.

VU: With Mike Tomlin, how soon do you think it will be before he starts getting head coaching interest?

They're already checking him out now. When you've got the No. 1 team against the rush and Tomlin coming from Tampa Bay, where he was the secondary coach, to come in here and do the things he's doing is really a tremendous plus. He's giving the players an opportunity to make a play. He's not playing them to their weakness or putting them in a bad situation. An example is Napoleon Harris. They're letting him (play freely). Everybody says he's coming on, but Napoleon Harris is a good football player who has got the perfect coach for his type of play.

VU: Do you think that a guy who has only been a coordinator for a year has a realistic chance to become a head coach after a year or after two years?

I can't remember if Mike Tice was ever a coordinator (sarcasm, again). They still have clock management problems, so a lot of the little things to be a successful head coach you have to live through more situations at a closer level - be close enough so that you could almost call the timeouts so you dictate clock management. Where you can dictate the little things, from offside to calls and refusing flags, etc., I think you have to live more of those to become a real good head coach.

Bob Lurtsema was a 12-year veteran defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.

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