VU: We knew the Vikings were likely to pick one or more receivers in the draft. What are your impressions of who they picked and how they will fit in?
BL: They could have picked 10 receivers as far as I'm concerned. The one I kind of wish they would have gone with is that David Ball from New Hampshire. They said he's only 6-foot-1, he doesn't run fast enough, he doesn't do this, he doesn't do that. Well, he broke almost all of Jerry Rice's records, so he's doing something right. Sometimes all of this, like having defensive linemen do 40-yard sprints, it doesn't mean crap. How fast is he in 10 yards? In that first 10 yards, how is his natural hand movement. That's what makes the difference. I could care less about the 40 stuff. He gets the job done.
But back to the question about the wide receivers, they could have brought in a whole barn load of them. I think they have to find a receiver that's on the same page with Tarvaris Jackson. A lot of times, receivers and quarterbacks get along absolutely perfectly, for instance with the wink of an eye they know exactly how they are going to come off of their route, whether or not they're going to cut their route shorter than what was called in the huddle. They always talk about players playing together and knowing each other. Yes, they do know each other and it's the same with the coaches. The coach should know how you are going to respond to every situation. Then you can adjust your offense or defense knowing exactly what you're going to do. I think the receivers should get in bed with Tarvaris Jackson as far as studying their routes, working together and listening to Jackson and communicating with Jackson. That Sidney Rice, I really like him. A lot of people don't, but I really think he's going to be good. But if you get on the same page as Jackson, he's the one that's going to make you, he's the one that's got control over you, he's the boss, he's the head honcho, he's the one you should be saying, ‘Yes, sir, no sir.' Whatever he wants, you should do. That's where I think if you bring in 50 wide receivers, find the one that works best for this up and coming quarterback that we have.
VU: This Rice is 6-3 ½, so how much to you think they missed having a real big target in the red zone last year after the problems with Koren Robinson and then just didn't use and finally released Marcus Robinson?
BL: I thought that the receiving corps, a couple of those ballplayers weren't that bad. I couldn't understand why they couldn't communicate that well with Brad Johnson. The communication factor, whether it was between the receivers coach and the quarterbacks coach, I don't know. But they weren't on the same page. Basically, that's what I was referring to before. You've got to get the receiver and the quarterback on the same page, but you've got to get the quarterback coach and the receivers coach on the same page with the offensive coordinator. I'm sick of Sid Hartman saying that the players make it on their own. It isn't all about the players—trust me.
VU: Any indication or any feeling on how you see the return game shaping up, both punt return and kick return?
BL: That's what I was wondering about with Chandler Williams in the seventh round, from Florida International. That might be a shot for him. I would have thrown David Ball in there. I think they wanted Williams for that because the return game is such a huge part of football now. Believe it or not, that defensive lineman who has such great 40 speed, Brian Robison, he's supposed to be a tremendous leaper like Matt Blair and blocking field goals and extra points. When coaches or even scouts start making those statements, they're telling you that they don't really need him as a defensive end, but we do need his uniqueness in special teams. That being one-third of the game, that shows you how important that one-third is on special teams.
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 VikingUpdate.com for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.
Lurtsema's Reaction: Rookie WRs, Specialists
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