Lurtsema's Reaction: Facing Favre and More

Former Vikings defensive lineman Bob Lurtsema had high praise for Brett Favre as the quarterback approaches two records Sunday against the Vikings. Plus, find out how the Vikings' defenders are approaching the game, as well as Lurtsema's thoughts on Minnesota's rushing and passing offense.

VU: I know you love the way Brett Favre plays. Do you have any favorite Favre moments as he comes to two records, the touchdowns and the interceptions?

BL: I hope he sets both of them. That would be an unbelievable experience to witness if the guy breaks George Blanda's record. I believe he's at 275 and it's 277, so that would tie it and then, of course, the touchdowns to break Dan Marino's record. They were doing a survey on KFAN the other day and I almost called because they were saying Joe Montana is No. 1 and Brett Favre is No. 2. Let me tell you something, Brett Favre is so far ahead of everyone else, there's no one even close to him. No. 1, he didn't have a good supporting cast all the time and then to start that many consecutive games – and you have to remember, how many quarterbacks, not only injuries but whether they played good or bad – haven't been benched or traded, and he's playing with the same club.

VU: One of the things I know they talked about in that informal poll was how these polls are always skewed to the modern-day player. But now you're telling me when you go back to the 1950s, '60 and ‘70s, if you eliminate from 1985 on, who would you say was the best quarterback in those earlier days?

BL: Just to have the job as long as I mentioned before, for me to go back there and I played against a lot of the Hall of Famers, the thing that we always had was that Sonny Jurgensen, Joe Namath, they got rid of that ball so fast that you can't sack those guys. If you look at it like that, they also had decent ratings. John Elway, they say how great he was, but he had nine out of 10 years where he was in the 70s or lower as far as how his rating goes. Now, going back to Favre, I don't want to compare him to the old guys. I've never seen a quarterback in all the years I played with the excitement and the energy, like a little kid, that is contagious. That is totally contagious to your team. Of course, all the fans pick up on it as well, but that's not why he's doing it. He's just like a little kid. I talked to Todd Bouman because Todd was down there and he said he was like a third-grader. Come Thursday, he was so excited for the game on Sunday. He plays it because it's a kid's game and he hasn't grown up yet. His energy is there, and that's what I like about it because that rubs off on the defensive players. For all those that wanted to get rid of him two years ago, you know I went on record with you in the paper and I did this on a few television shows, I'd take him all day long. There was nothing wrong with Brett Favre a couple years ago. The thing of it is, when he's down by two touchdowns with seven minutes to go, there is only one way he can win. He'll force that pass because he doesn't care if he loses by 28 or 14, it's a loss. He knows what he has to do to give his team an opportunity to win. A lot of quarterbacks haven't got the balls to do that, they're worried about their stats and this and that.

VU: Bringing it back to the Vikings, it seems like if they've got a little lead they are so intent on just preserving those few points rather than being aggressive. What do you think of how aggressive or unaggressive they have become?

BL: Well, you have no go-to guy. The go-to guy you have is Adrian Peterson. I know Brad Childress said he went off on the last drive because of pass protection. I look at it that you want to be explosive and he's your most explosive player. If he's your most explosive player and they're running a blitz or something, that just comes down to a hot call where they're hitting him right away out of the backfield. Dump right away. Brad Childress is no dummy, but there is nobody that you can go to, and so far this year Tarvaris Jackson has missed some wide-open receivers. If he's throwing to a spot, he's throwing out of bounds and he doesn't give the player an opportunity to make a big play. He's so far away right now from being a legitimate big play maker. I think his strength might be a 15-yard pass over the middle, but you can't go deep with him.

VU: Are the receivers open enough from what you see?

BL: From what I've seen so far, there isn't a lot of great separation. But if you're disciplined on your routes, whether it's 7 yards or 10 yards, if they're going to take it away on that route, a receiver has got to be able to make an adjustment. If he knows his route is taken away at 10 yards, run it at 8 yards, but he's got to know he's on the same page as the quarterback, and the quarterback has got to know the adjustments. Bobby Wade can find the open spot. He can set in the soft spot. He can find it with his experience. Now you've got to find it on the other end where you're throwing him the ball, to know that Wade is going to make that adjustment.

VU: I asked Brad Childress about what his plan for the running backs is once Chester Taylor comes back and he said Taylor is the starter again when he comes back healthy and they'll spit carries. It's still the same plan that he had at the beginning of the year. Do you think Adrian has shown enough to alter from that plan?

BL: The thing that Coach Childress is wisely doing is he's not tipping his hand. He knows now how well Adrian Peterson bounced back after a game – what his strengths and weaknesses are. It's actually a plus because he's had a chance to see more of Adrian. Then when they come back in, they'll alternate the two. Like with Dallas and Marion Barber and Julius Jones, they'll keep them in for a series and if they're going right, they'll keep them in. That gives a coach a little more of a positive decision-making chance. If something is wrong with one of them, you run the other one more. It really helps. I think if you look at how they are doing it down in Dallas, you're going to understand that having two of them is going to be a tremendous plus. It was basically unfair to the offense to have just one man in the backfield and not even having Tony Richardson blocking. You just lost your three combos, and when you do not have a seasoned quarterback, you've got to have a running game. We said that at the beginning of the season. The only thing that is going to help Tarvaris Jackson mature is a good running game.

VU: From your talks with defenders, what is their mentality about going up against Green Bay in general and then Favre on Sunday?

BL: The defense is really, really stoked for this game because it's always fun to go against the best, and Brett Favre is the best. And it's always fun when the best in the league is your No. 1 rivalry. There is no better rivalry than the Packers and the Vikings. All the defensive linemen were saying, ‘Lurtz, two plays and we're 3-0.' That's what they're feeding off, and it's true. You get a bad official's call in Kansas City and you win that game and then the three inches on that field goal against Detroit and you win that one. So, two plays, 3-0.

VU: When you look at what Favre will probably do and what teams have done to this defense for the past year in spreading them out, what's the key to combating that?

BL: Pass rush.

VU: Even on Favre?

BL: You've got to have the outside force. I'm getting a kick out of what Antoine Winfield is saying. He wants to go one-on-one with Donald Driver. I like that. That's the competitive spirit you like to hear. Nobody has really challenged him like that and if anyone can handle it, it is Winfield because we're getting beat with the corners and we're young back there. You've got Sharper back there, but overall in the nickel and dime package, they're young.

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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