Todd Korth: Who do you think will start at quarterback for the Vikings on Sunday?
Tim Yotter: As of Thursday afternoon, it was looking like Kelly Holcomb would be the starter. The Vikings weren't making any announcements and probably won't until Sunday before the game, but Jackson looked like he wasn't able to really step into the throws I saw him make during individual drills on Thursday.
Todd Korth: Why have the Vikings struggled so much on offense?
Tim Yotter: I think for a lot of reasons. They have issues in just about every area. First, the offensive line has been somewhat inconsistent, whether that is on the players or the blocking scheme not fitting the players. Their wide receivers are generally young and relatively inexperienced, with no real go-to No. 1 receiver at this point. And the quarterback situation isn't great either. Tarvaris Jackson doesn't look like he's quite ready to be a playmaker without a strong receiving corps, so he doesn't really have anyone to take the pressure off him. The running game looks as good as ever with the addition of Adrian Peterson, so that's been the saving grace so far.
Todd Korth: What has been the most disappointing area of the offense?
Tim Yotter: Really, the only thing that hasn't been disappointing is the running game because of what Peterson has been able to do, but forced to pick one area I'd say the inability to get the ball deep in the passing game. They have had a couple of opportunities and not connected on them, and until they prove they can do that, defenses will continue to stack the box to stop Peterson. Troy Williamson has been only marginally better with catching ball after a miserable season last year, and lately he has been out with a hamstring injury. That leaves former Packer Robert Ferguson as their best option on a deep route, and he has dropped one of them with another one being just out of his reach.
Todd Korth: How has Adrian Peterson been able to succeed when the rest of the offense has failed?
Tim Yotter: Pure skill. He hits the hole very hard and therefore rarely loses yardage, and he has good power to put the shoulder down and get a couple of extra yards when there is very little there. However, he is also amazingly elusive for a bigger back, and therefore he often shakes the first would-be tackler and can get himself into open space on occasion. He is dangerous in a number of ways, and if the Vikings would have just one more legitimate threat, it would take a world of pressure off of Peterson, making him look even better than he has.
Todd Korth: Do you think Chester Taylor will play against the Packers?
Tim Yotter: It's looking like he might, but I don't think he'll be 100 percent yet if he does. I think he'll be most valuable in helping in pass protection and getting chips on the defensive linemen as he goes out on pass patterns. They could opt to rest him this week with the aid of the bye the following week, but he looked like he might be able to play from what I witnessed in limited practice observations on Wednesday and Thursday.
Todd Korth: Has Robert Ferguson contributed to the offense in any way?
Tim Yotter: With an inexperienced receiving corps, Ferguson has made some decent contributions, but that hasn't always shown up in the stats. He appears to be a guy that the quarterbacks want to find, but he has been a bit inconsistent yet to really become a steady every-game guy that has four or more catches each week.
Todd Korth: What are Vikings' fans thoughts on Brad Childress thus far?
Tim Yotter: Pretty lukewarm so far. While I think they want to give him a chance, they are becoming increasingly frustrated with the offense's inability to progress despite Childress coming in here with the reputation of being an offensive coach. I think he has also been hurt by some of his personnel decisions, like not having a reliable veteran backup with the team during the offseason (they acquired Kelly Holcomb right before the season, so he's still getting comfortable) and not going after a veteran offensive lineman or two in free agency.
Todd Korth: Besides Peterson, what one rookie has made the biggest impact thus far for the Vikings?
Tim Yotter: Peterson has been the major contributor obviously, but the guys from the next three rounds have also seen their share of action. Second-rounder Sidney Rice has been slowly developing. I think he has tremendous ball skills and just needs to become a little more comfortable with the offense and his route-running. Third-rounder Marcus McCauley had a great offseason and is being used as an outside cornerback in their nickel defense. With some NFL seasoning, he has future starter written all over him. Fourth-rounder Brian Robison is a pass-rush specialist who got out of the gates with a two-sack performance in the opener. He hasn't had a sack in the last two games, but he'll probably be pushing for double-digit sacks by the end of the season if his playing time stays where it is once Erasmus James returns from injury.
Todd Korth: If you were Brett Favre, who would you target in the Vikings' secondary?
Tim Yotter: Cedric Griffin has been the popular target of quarterbacks so far this season and he knows it. He was in good position last week on a touchdown pass to Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe, but Bowe simply out-jumped and out-muscled Bowe for the ball. However, Griffin is a physical cornerback and it has been a disappointment with how many tackles he has missed when the Vikings bring the house on the blitz and leave him to make a play in space.
Todd Korth: How would you rate the play of ex-Packer Darren Sharper this season?
Tim Yotter: I wondered in the preseason if he was going to hold up health-wise after he injured his shoulder in training camp, but he has been very solid once again. The guy just has a nose for the ball, and in this defense that really emphasizes getting turnovers, he's been one of their biggest playmakers in the back end. As always, he's been a great quote for the media, this week spending a lot of time needling Favre over the interception record, but it's always in good fun with him. On and off the field, I find him to be one of the more entertaining players the Vikings have.
Behind Enemy Lines: Part I
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