Lurtsema's Reaction: QBs, Pro Bowlers, etc.

Former Vikings defensive lineman Bob Lurtsema talks about the Vikings' quarterback situation with Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson, the offensive line, his opinion on the block Jared Allen took to the knee, and which Vikings he sees as Pro Bowlers this year.

VU: I know you had your doubts about how Tarvaris Jackson would do entering the season, and you weren't alone. What's your assessment of his last game?

BL: He played outstanding when he came in against Detroit. Everybody is saying, ‘Well, it's Detroit.' No, no, no. When he hasn't played for about 11 weeks, to come out and be that well-prepared – and I think offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell deserves some credit telling him to relax – he said he put too much pressure on himself. That can happen. Some fans say if they were an NFL player they wouldn't go out on Monday and they'd rest every night. You can't lock into a game on Tuesday or Wednesday – the pressure would drive you crazy. Every player does it differently, but myself when I was a regular I'd start to get a little tight on Friday and really lock in on Saturday afternoon or Saturday night. Then, come Sunday, I was ready. You cannot put that heat on yourself.

VU: If Jackson plays this week and there is a struggle for Gus Frerotte to get back health-wise, what do you do when you're entering the final regular-season game or even the playoffs? Do you go back to Gus because of the veteran status?

BL: It depends to what level Tarvaris plays. If he matches what he did last week – that was a great performance – you'd have to stay with Tarvaris and give Gus another week off. Gus has done a great job. Everybody looks at his interceptions or his passer ratings. Sometimes that doesn't make a difference, because in two particular games his veteran leadership and reading his checkdowns to the third and fourth receivers won the game for the Vikings. That would be a controversial problem. Gus is definitely hurt and tweaked his back. It's a little tender for him, but I think Gus will be back next week.

VU: As an ex-defensive lineman, I've got to ask you about that hit that Jared Allen took. Do you think it was dirty?

BL: Totally legal. Fans shouldn't even bring that up. They say Gosder Cherilus went for Allen's knee – no, he didn't. They said Jared Allen was out of the play he didn't have to block him. Wait a minute – then why is Jared Allen running that hard in that direction? There might be a fumble. The runner might cut back. He's still involved in the play. I thought it was a very smart play for a rookie offensive lineman to see another player that he could knock down. He didn't go for his knee intentionally. You can't think fast enough going at that speed and you're on all fours. Then you're going to aim yourself to go for his knee? No. That was a legal block and I'll give him credit for being very alert as a rookie.

BL: This is the time of year that players can get worn down. Do you see any of that?

VU: I think they're doing a good job resting the offensive linemen during the week. In the locker room the other day, they really seemed fresh and that's so important. When we would play, Bud Grant would taper things off as you would go later into the season. But you can overdo it and rest the players too much, especially with those teams that are going into the playoffs and have a bye week and rest players the last game as well. That's almost three weeks in between games and you're going to be rusty coming out. You have to stay fine-tuned. If you rest too many players too early, I think it affects the way they're going to come out for the first quarter or so. It's like the Super Bowl – it always seems like the great ones are when there is only one week between the conference championships and the Super Bowl. Sometimes you can rest so much that your body exhausts itself. It always you used to hit me about three weeks after the season was over – three weeks, one day, four hours and 12 minutes after it, my body would shut down. Everybody is different, but I like the way that Pat Morris and Jim Hueber are doing it with the offensive linemen. With Adrian Peterson having the year that he is, setting record after record, fans can sometimes still get frustrated when he doesn't have a 200-yard game, but the offensive line is looking good.

VU: As long as we're on the topic, let's look at the last game of the season against the New York Giants. If they've got the No.1 seed wrapped up at that point, do you think a guy like Tom Coughlin would come out with his starters and play them extensively against the Vikings?

BL: After what I just said, that's going to be an interesting watch. I'm going online saying one thing and now you can watch what Coughlin does. That comes into play with players having three weeks off. It will be interesting to see what he does, but I think he will start his regulars. But he won the Super Bowl and I didn't, so it will be watch time for the old Benchwarmer – open up mouth and insert foot.

VU: Pro Bowl selections are announced on Tuesday. Who among the Vikings do you think is worthy?

BL: Since I saw the greatest defensive goal-line stand a couple weeks ago on Sunday night against Chicago, even Carl Eller was down there. He said, ‘That touchdown was ours. It was a defensive touchdown.' Of course, he was talking about the 99-yarder on the next play. The defense set that up. Paul Wiggin said it was the best defensive stand he's ever seen. Now, Paul played 11 years, coached defensive line and was a head coach and he said that. So with the Pro Bowl, you've got the Williams Brothers, they are both there. And Jared Allen is a slam dunk. You should have three Pro Bowlers off the defensive line, period. I know back in the Purple People Eaters days, they had the front four actually start the Pro Bowl. The same they started, I was an alternate and I was playing with the New York Giants. I wonder if that was a vision of things to come. What a coincidence, huh? As far as the defensive backs go, Antoine Winfield has made some huge plays. After a while, they don't even go to him. Him being 5-foot-1, pound-for-pound he's the toughest defensive back I've seen since Bobby Bryant. He should go, but he will probably be a backup.

Steve Hutchinson is Hall of Fame material. You watch him, the way he plays. He just totally dominates. He'll come off his blocks, pick up second blocks, pancakes all the time. He's worth every nickel they gave him. You have to throw Matt Birk in there as well. Since recovering from his injury, he's having a much better year and he'll go. The reason he should go is that Adrian Peterson isn't getting all those yards by himself. You have two great offensive linemen, and the center is the one that sets everything up and makes the calls. Adrian Peterson, questionable, maybe – but make it a strong maybe (tongue in cheek).

With Ryan Longwell, there are a couple of other kickers that are having just fantastic years, so I don't think Longwell will make it. Chris Kluwe should go because he has a great gross average and has tremendous hang time. Kluwe could be questionable because so many writers look at what his net average is and they don't always look at what his coverage did. His coverage can ruin a Pro Bowl punter's stats, but it shouldn't take away from what he's done.


Bob Lurtsema registered 57 regular-season sacks and three in the playoffs during his 12-year career as a 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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