Lurtsema's Reaction: Preseason Concerns, More

Former Viking Bob Lurtsema has some concerns from the Vikings' preseason efforts and wants to see more of the starters, which isn't going to happen tonight in the preseason finale. He also offers his pointed comments about Gene Upshaw, the late executive director of the players union, whom Lurtsema dealt with as a former players rep.

VU: Any concerns at all for you defensively now that it seems like in the last game the Vikings got the run defense shored up?

BL: I'm still a little concerned about the pass coverage. Jared Allen is the real deal. His motor goes all the time, he's working hard and I really like his energy, but I don't see a lot of energy from a lot of other players yet. The defensive backs, if they really come through and prove that they're good enough with a decent rush, then I'll sit back and enjoy it more. They've given up a lot of points of this preseason. They always seem to have an excuse – excuses don't work. I don't care if it's the preseason or not, you have to have the effort. But in the overall scheme of things, I'm really happy with the personnel.

VU: How about the run offense? It seems like it's struggled in the preseason. Do you just chalk that up to being the preseason or is there some concern there?

BL: They are making some mental mistakes, and that's the part you are supposed to adjust during preseason. But then when you don't play much during preseason, you don't get the tempo as far as picking up the blitzes and getting the calls in front of a loud crowd. The offensive line, with the Pro Bowlers and as good Steve Hutchinson and Matt Birk are, I'm a little bit worried, especially with Bryant McKinnie potentially being gone for four weeks. Adrian Peterson showed absolutely nothing, so are you going to blame Adrian Peterson in the preseason or are you going to say, ‘Wait a minute, what's the blocking scheme? Is man-to-man better than an area or zone block?' That's something I'm going to have to look at real hard, but they do disguise a lot of things in preseason. Right now, they are disguising the running game.

VU: The starters not playing on Thursday, which bring the question of how much did you guys play in the final preseason game ‘back in the day?'

BL: The starters played the whole game. They played more and more as the preseason went on. That was conditioning. Even in New York (Giants) – and Bud Grant did this too – you get the starters in the first half and get them started in the third quarter so they can get used to how to adjust at halftime with a ritual or conditioning aspect for getting the motor going for the second half. He would come out and start them in the third quarter. The regulars did play a lot. Winning did mean a lot more back then in the old days. I don't know why it doesn't mean as much now, but we all felt that in the preseason winning is habit, just like losing is a habit. I'm getting overruled by almost every club now because they all seem to be so worried about injuries. Rather than getting them in shape to avoid injuries, I think they are creating an opportunity to have a player get an injury that he normally wouldn't have had if he had been in better physical shape. By physical shape, I'm talking about the contact aspect of the sport. Some people don't realize how the defensive backs need to get that mental toughness on how to hit and how to force it full speed.

VU: What would your opinion be of shortening the preseason by a game or two and adding that into the regular season?

BL: I think it would great from the standpoint of this is unfair to season ticket holders. They go out there and pay top dollar to see nothing. You're going to see the backups play quite a bit and you're not going to get the full run with your regulars. Even Tarvaris Jackson, I really felt that he should have played a half every game. He needs the experience. Now he's hurt again and not going to play in this game? Come on.

VU: What's your opinion of Gene Upshaw and what he did for the game, the league, the players association, or even your criticisms of him?

BL: In USA Today, one of the lawyers said you shouldn't criticize a person who is deceased, I hope he's at peace with himself, but he was a selfish, bull-headed type of person who really went against the entire alumni. He did not take care of the players he played with and against. They can talk about the strikes when Ed Garvey was here in the early 1970s, but Gene Upshaw was not a nice person. He lied to me on many, many occasions. I was a player rep, so I hope he's at peace with himself, but I really didn't have a lot of respect for him.

Bob Lurtsema registered 57 careers sacks as 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.


Viking Update Top Stories

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","mobileBody":"VU: Any concerns at all for you defensively now that it seems like in the last game the Vikings got the run defense shored up?

BL: I'm still a little concerned about the pass coverage. Jared Allen is the real deal. His motor goes all the time, he's working hard and I really like his energy, but I don't see a lot of energy from a lot of other players yet. The defensive backs, if they really come through and prove that they're good enough with a decent rush, then I'll sit back and enjoy it more. They've given up a lot of points of this preseason. They always seem to have an excuse – excuses don't work. I don't care if it's the preseason or not, you have to have the effort. But in the overall scheme of things, I'm really happy with the personnel.

VU: How about the run offense? It seems like it's struggled in the preseason. Do you just chalk that up to being the preseason or is there some concern there?

BL: They are making some mental mistakes, and that's the part you are supposed to adjust during preseason. But then when you don't play much during preseason, you don't get the tempo as far as picking up the blitzes and getting the calls in front of a loud crowd. The offensive line, with the Pro Bowlers and as good Steve Hutchinson and Matt Birk are, I'm a little bit worried, especially with Bryant McKinnie potentially being gone for four weeks. Adrian Peterson showed absolutely nothing, so are you going to blame Adrian Peterson in the preseason or are you going to say, ‘Wait a minute, what's the blocking scheme? Is man-to-man better than an area or zone block?' That's something I'm going to have to look at real hard, but they do disguise a lot of things in preseason. Right now, they are disguising the running game.

VU: The starters not playing on Thursday, which bring the question of how much did you guys play in the final preseason game ‘back in the day?'

BL: The starters played the whole game. They played more and more as the preseason went on. That was conditioning. Even in New York (Giants) – and Bud Grant did this too – you get the starters in the first half and get them started in the third quarter so they can get used to how to adjust at halftime with a ritual or conditioning aspect for getting the motor going for the second half. He would come out and start them in the third quarter. The regulars did play a lot. Winning did mean a lot more back then in the old days. I don't know why it doesn't mean as much now, but we all felt that in the preseason winning is habit, just like losing is a habit. I'm getting overruled by almost every club now because they all seem to be so worried about injuries. Rather than getting them in shape to avoid injuries, I think they are creating an opportunity to have a player get an injury that he normally wouldn't have had if he had been in better physical shape. By physical shape, I'm talking about the contact aspect of the sport. Some people don't realize how the defensive backs need to get that mental toughness on how to hit and how to force it full speed.

VU: What would your opinion be of shortening the preseason by a game or two and adding that into the regular season?

BL: I think it would great from the standpoint of this is unfair to season ticket holders. They go out there and pay top dollar to see nothing. You're going to see the backups play quite a bit and you're not going to get the full run with your regulars. Even Tarvaris Jackson, I really felt that he should have played a half every game. He needs the experience. Now he's hurt again and not going to play in this game? Come on.

VU: What's your opinion of Gene Upshaw and what he did for the game, the league, the players association, or even your criticisms of him?

BL: In USA Today, one of the lawyers said you shouldn't criticize a person who is deceased, I hope he's at peace with himself, but he was a selfish, bull-headed type of person who really went against the entire alumni. He did not take care of the players he played with and against. They can talk about the strikes when Ed Garvey was here in the early 1970s, but Gene Upshaw was not a nice person. He lied to me on many, many occasions. I was a player rep, so I hope he's at peace with himself, but I really didn't have a lot of respect for him.

Bob Lurtsema registered 57 careers sacks as 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.

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