VikingBuzz BLOG: 8/20

Head coach Brad Childress is keenly aware of virtually every detail that occurs with his team, whether it the offense, defense or special teams. But his primary hands-on focus of late has been with the offense, where the team hopes for significant improvement in 2007.

Childress more hands on with offense than defense

One thing you notice from observing the Vikings during training camp practices this year is the ratio of time head coach Brad Childress spends personally engaged with groups of players.

Like most coaches, he spends a fair amount of time meandering from group to group, but it’s hard not to notice the ratio of time he spends working hands-on with the offense as compared to the defense.  In fact, it’s probably 95%.

That doesn’t mean he’s oblivious to the nuances of the defense, but most of his focus has been on offense.  Whether it is the quarterbacks, the receivers, the running backs, the tight ends, the offensive linemen, Childress can be frequently seen engaged with all of them.

On defense, his interaction is far less frequent, but that doesn’t mean he’s unaware of every little detail.

Case in point:  During a recent two-minute drill scrimmage, a defensive back intercepted a pass to kill a simulated end-of-game bid to score.  After the defensive player had advance the ball up the field before being “tackled” Childress chided the player to simply step out of bounds given the situation and not take any chances on turning the ball back over to the offense.

Another example:  When asked recently by reporters if veteran Darren Sharper freelanced on his interception against the Jets, Childress offered a firm rebuttal.

“There’s nobody freelancing out there,” he said.  “Freelancing is for freelance artists, not freelance football players.  Eleven guys have a responsibility; now they have flexibility within that scheme disguise-wise, which we spend a lot of time talking about holding looks.”

Childress might be known as an offensive coach, and that might be where he’s spending much of his focus at this point, but there’s no question he knows the game of football inside and out – all phases.

Overall, Childress is positive about the improvement he’s seen from his team, but he’s far from giddy.

“As I’ve said before, I think it’s incremental,” he said.  “I can’t tell you it’s leaps and bounds, but I see us getting better at things every week.”

Ferguson leaves without deal

Former Packers wide receiver Robert Ferguson reportedly left Minnesota en route to Houston on Sunday night to talk with the Texans.  He is scheduled to undergo a physical and visit with coaches in Houston on Monday.  However, if the Vikings are truly interested in Ferguson a deal could be struck at any time as his agent, Brian Overstreet, suggests he will land somewhere soon.

QB rumors now justified?

With the preseason halfway complete, let’s revisit the speculation regarding whether or not the Vikings are or should be interested in acquiring a veteran quarterback.

We’ve contended before that any pursuit of a veteran quarterback would only undermine the development and progress of second-year man Tarvaris Jackson, who is being afforded every possible opportunity to be “the guy” this season.

On that front, so far so good, as Jackson isn’t out of the woods yet but has at least shown enough to have reasonable confidence that he can make it through his first full season as the starter without personally losing games for the team (like the quarterback position did at times last year).

However, a fair question at this juncture is whether or not the addition of an experienced veteran wouldn’t provide more proven depth behind Jackson.

The question there depends on analysis of the coaching staff to this point of Brooks Bollinger.  Has he shown enough to sustain confidence that he can be the No. 2 quarterback, or should the team try to upgrade?

In practices and limited duty in two preseason games, Bollinger has not clearly proven his case beyond all doubt.  But he hasn’t done anything to clearly disqualify himself, either.

It’s tough to make much of 6-for-10 passing for 50 yards with 2 rushes for 18 yards.  Bollinger looks seriously mismatched physically, lacking the size and stature you hope for from the position, and he has yet to demonstrate the arm strength that will force defenses to “back off” on pass defense.  On the plus side, he’s shown some niftiness and athleticism with his feet.  Overall, he looks like a quicker, more nimble Brad Johnson.

Is that good enough?  The jury is still out and time will tell.  But Bollinger’s performance is still being scrutinized, especially in comparison with other potential veterans out there, like the often-mentioned Kelly Holcomb, who still appears to be running No. 4 in what figures to be a three-man race in Philadelphia.

But the Atlanta Falcons, who lost backup D.J. Shockley recently, could also be in the hunt for Holcomb, as their depth behind starter Joey Harrington is now only Chris Redman.

The Vikings will be pretty protective of giving up draft picks for a player, so stay tuned.

Greenway could quickly emerge

It’s beginning to look like Chad Greenway is on the verge of quickly emerging as one of the NFL’s top weak-side linebackers this season.

Greenway overcame any first-game jitters he showed against the Rams to stand out in the Jets game earlier this weekend.

Greenway has all the tools – physical, mental and intangible – to become a real play-maker for the Vikings in their scheme.

Fason on the bubble?

It’s beginning to look more and more like third-year running back Ciatrick Fason might be on the bubble to make the final roster cut.

The dynamic duo of Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson are going to limit the number of reps and touches for just about anyone else in the offensive backfield.  Mewelde Moore has had a strong camp and appears set as the team’s primary third-down back once again, plus he can also return punts.

The battle for the No. 4 spot seems to be between Artose Pinner and Fason.  At this point, it looks like Pinner is ahead on the depth chart.  It might come down to contributions on special teams unless the team decides to keep five running backs.

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