Passing offense – The neat part about the Vikings offense now is that Gus, the way he audibles and the way he reads his progressions, even with that pass in New Orleans, he just knew where that fourth man was supposed to be. He threw the ball up there and it turned out to be a big play with where Bernard Berrian was at and it helped them to get in the lead. When the receivers have a veteran like Gus, they have to run their routes every single time and they need to be on the same page. You can't make mental mistakes. With that catch against New Orleans, Berrian runs the wrong route, but it also seemed like he gave up on another other route that led to an interception in the Chicago game. So it seems like a roller-coaster ride with the receivers.
Rushing offense – Every defense is playing to stop Adrian Peterson. Even though they are putting eight in the box, he's putting up decent numbers. But you've got to go back to the first question about the passing offense and get them on the same page. With Peterson, they say that he needs to read his holes and be a little more patient, but he might be too patient. He likes to hit that first yard or two and just really hit it, and then if they've got eight or nine in the box it's going to really open up. Sometimes when you're floating a little bit and waiting to go through, you're taking away from your football ability. I think even Devin Hester, the Bears' return man, he had some terrible returns and I think he's even floating back there, thinking he's going to make something happen rather than taking it up field and then making something happen. If you watch Hester, you wonder what he's doing losing yardage. Sometimes you think too much and become a little too passive instead of pounding the ball. I think sometimes Chester Taylor comes into the game and he pounds it. Sometimes I'll think that's Adrian pounding it and then I'll see it's 29 (Taylor), not 28 (Peterson). In the same breath, from a beat-up old defensive lineman, I would still like to see those two in the same backfield, because with that running-passing combination, it would make me less aggressive. I would have no idea what was coming. Normally, split backs is a passing formation, but they can do so many things out of that.
Rushing defense – The rush defense is good. If Kevin Williams and Pat Williams don't get suspended, I think they've got the best front four in football. When you have a defensive tackle with four sacks, four tackles-for-loss and four hurries – eight total tackles and a knockdown – those kind of numbers in a game are huge stats. With Jared Allen there, the blocking slides. We talked last week that three to five tackles is considered a good game for a defensive tackle. With the way Kevin and Pat Williams are playing, they are almost leading the team in tackles. That's because of Jared Allen. They are getting different blocking schemes, and even Ray Edwards had a good, solid game and registered four solid tackles against the Bears. For defensive ends, two to three tackles a game is about right. I think that defensive line is doing everything it can, plus. I haven't lost any confidence in them, but I'm not a big fan of having defensive linemen have pass coverage. Maybe that's just me not being the total athlete when I played.
Pass defense – With the defensive line putting on that much pressure, there are just too many yards in crunch-time situations where the quarterbacks are able to make great yardage. That comes from the separation on offense that the Vikings are not getting with their receivers. Opponents are getting more separation than the Vikings are. Sometimes, that's against a linebacker; sometimes that's against a defensive back. Kyle Orton seemed to really enjoy that last week. Last year, they kept bringing in defensive backs for tryouts and they signed Madieu Williams and I think he'll be playing next week for the first time. It will be interesting because they are still addressing that problem. They've got Darren Sharper, they've got Cedric Griffin, and they've got player of the week – 5-foot-4 Antoine Winfield – but the overall feeling is that it is still a weakness for the Vikings.
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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