VU: With the Bears having a win in hand against the Vikings, do you view this Sunday night game as a "must-win" game?
BL: I actually believe this could be their season. We can look down the road and all that and the schedules are in Green Bay's favor and Chicago's favor while the Vikings have the toughest. But if you're going to be a Super Bowl champion, you've got to beat all the tough teams that you are supposed to beat. With this game, it's been a long time that you have a game this big with four games to go after it. This means so much. I think it's the whole season. You can't fall back two games with four games to go. Sure, they could make up that difference and you can play that mind game – I know as an athlete I would play that positive side constantly. If there was a way I could win a game or a division in my head, I'd try to execute that in the game. As a player, you've got to stay positive. Sometimes as a fan I'm starting to realize you become a little more of a realist.
VU: As I look at it, I tend to think the Vikings have the better personnel overall than the Bears. Do you think their loss down in Chicago was just a case of things snowballing with all of their mistakes?
BL: Definitely. You're going to have some bastard games throughout the season. That's why as an individual you've got to prepare yourself mentally so you don't make a mistake that could possibly cost you a game. One or two plays can often determine the outcome, and that game was just one of those fluke games. If you ever ask long-time trainer Fred Zamberletti what was the best team the Vikings ever had, he'll say 1972. We were 7-7, but in five different games, one play made the difference. That still hasn't changed.
VU: With what went on with Reggie Bush returning two punts for touchdowns before that Vikings-Bears game, do you think the Vikings just had too much concern over punting to Devin Hester when Chris Kluwe dropped that punt snap?
BL: Absolutely. The part that I like about what Brad Childress is starting to do with those fourth-down calls is that he's telling the players that he believes in them. But when you kick away from Hester so much – number one, it put the ball on about the 45-yard line every time – but it puts a big negative thought to the players that you don't believe they can get it done. Even on that punt in the Jacksonville game when they took the intentional safety, I understand why he did it, but I think I would have punted and challenged them with that big of lead. He really put a negative thought with the special teams group that he was expecting something bad to happen. I'm looking at it like it's 30-10 and everything is great. Let's keep smoking them. I understand why he did it, but I also understand how the players felt.
VU: What about the way Gus Frerotte has been playing lately? Do you think he's getting beat up or do you think he's getting the proverbial happy feet in the pocket?
BL: There are some plays that I'm surprised at, where I think a 15-year veteran would make them, but the receivers aren't getting the separation they should be getting. They have yet to have a 300-yard passing game in Brad Childress' coaching regime. Do you blame Gus? Maybe on a play here or there, but Gus is trying to hang onto it as long as he can to try to get those receivers to open up a little more. Gus has actually made a couple of throws that have won ballgames because he knew where his third and fourth receivers were and kept a couple of drives alive. It's hard to say why he hasn't made a couple of those plays, other than him feeling in his heart he make those plays.
VU: With Visanthe Shiancoe, do you think he has turned things around now? Do you think it was more of a mental game for him when he started to drop a couple?
BL: I played one year at tight end in college. You either can catch it or you can't. The psychological part, I don't know you can have time to think about dropping the ball when it's coming your way. I think for the money they paid him, I assumed he knew how to catch the ball when he got here. As an ex-tight end, I do not understand the psychological part that he's going through. If he's thinking that much and that hard and that long, then he's giving up on himself because you have to carry a certain arrogance or confidence as a receiver that you're going to catch it. You've spent your life catching the ball that it should be ho-hum, here it comes again. Not having watched him much before he got here, I'm not sure if he's on a roller-coaster ride and I don't like athletes that go on roller-coaster rides. I like more predictability, where you know exactly where a player is going to be in every situation. In the NFL, there were a lot of things that I could not do, but the things that I did excel at coach Jack Patera always put me in that position.
Bob Lurtsema registered 57 regular-season sacks and three playoff sacks as a 12-year veteran defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and was 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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