Lurtsema's Reaction: Defensive Confusion

The Vikings had a lot of areas lacking crispness Sunday against the Jets, but the defensive players don't appear to have the confidence to play aggressive enough and are being caught out of position too often.

As a player in the National Football League, one thing you must never fear is making a mental mistake — that is, an aggressive mental mistake. This Minnesota defense seems to have that tentative demeanor, as they react to too many situations like they are unprepared. I realize there is a lot of shuffling going in and out on the defense, and that will always create some uncertainty. But when I say they look unprepared, what I mean is that they make the same mistakes week in and week out.

I really thought the defense was improving, but that's not so. I watched them constantly having several players filling the same hole while also looking confused on some very simple line stunts. I personally hate the prevent defense, which is mainly referring to a three-man front. I truly feel that all it does is prevent you from winning. Just this week in three different games I happened to watch, even the announcers were criticizing that type of defensive front, as it allows the opponent's quarterback to have all day to look for an open receiver.

The Vikings will usually blitz when they're in a three-man front. Yet on third-and-15 today they had Lance Johnstone take a 3-yard drop into coverage while sending only three linemen. And with the defensive backs playing as soft as they have — and they definitely have to gain some confidence in themselves to play a little tighter coverage — there is never a reason to throw a 3- or 4-yard pass because the quarterback will usually have time to find the open 10- or 15-yard route, which Jets quarterback Chad Pennington did on this particular play.

When you get an opposing team in these situations week after week and you can't pull the trigger, the end result always seems to be that these young quarterbacks, like Pennington this week and Joey Harrington last week, have career days.

You can blame the turnovers, the interceptions thrown by Daunte Culpepper, and poor end results in the red zone all you want. But when it comes down to hard-core, winning football, the defensive players have got to line up, feel confident about themselves, and for gosh-sake not be afraid to make an aggressive mistake.

Confidence, confidence, confidence. When you play a lousy team like the New York Jets — a team that had been allowing more than 33 points a game and giving up more than 190 yards rushing per game with one of the worst defensive lines I've seen in quite a while — and end up not even being close to having an opportunity to win, it tells me these players are holding back. The Vikings offense has enough power to rock, and the defensive players should have enough confidence in their ability to execute against teams of lesser talent.

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