Lurtsema's Reaction: A perfect combination?

With Brett Favre running the show and Adrian Peterson running the ball, it's a great combination for a balanced offense, says former Viking Bob Lurtsema. But will it be like that every game? And what about the younger players in the spotlight and the defense? Lurtz covers it all.

VU: What were your initial impressions of Favre in his first game?

BL: I thought it was a perfect situation. I heard a lot of people complaining about the first half and I didn't see that at all. When you're just starting out a game, you're just getting a feel for your opponent. He didn't go and try to win the game right out of the shoot. He's such a professional that he had the patience to wait and take what they're giving him. As the game progresses, find out if you do have to go deep or if you have to give Adrian Peterson the ball more. He was just very, very calm and I thought it was fantastic. Peterson loved every part of it because he said after the game that he had a good game and next week it could be Brett Favre throwing for three or four touchdowns – whatever works. When you have two weapons like that in the running game and the passing game, that's offense in its entirety. They were very selective, very patient and that's all part of being a top-notch Hall of Famer and an up-and-coming Hall of Famer.

VU: Do you think that mix of run and pass – Peterson carrying it 25 times and Favre throwing it 21 times – is about what you'd like to see to keep Favre's arm fresh throughout the season?

BL: More people are worried about his arm, but his arm is not going to tire. There isn't going to be the attitude that, ‘Oh no, we're down by 20 points but we can't let Favre throw more than 20 times.' That's not going to happen. That's not football. Favre has been doing this for 18 years. His arm doesn't get tired. Last year he had an injury. That's what brought him down a little bit. He was throwing differently; he had a little bit of pain. Does he throw less during practice? Absolutely. Do some of the veterans that have been around the league 12, 14, 15, 18 years like a Jim Marshall – did he take a lot of the week off when I played with him? Absolutely. They have a different set of rules than the younger people that are learning the game and have to be out there every week proving themselves. I don't even want to address that because if it takes 50 throws to win a game, he'll throw 50. If it takes 10 to win a game, he'll throw 10.

VU: What do you think is a realistic top-end goal for Peterson this year? Does the fact that he got off to a 180-yard start in the opener change your expectations for him?

BL: Adrian's goal is 2,000 yards and that's very attainable. We've talked about it before that you're not going to throw nine in the box against Brett Favre. If you do, the pass will beat you. If they don't throw nine in the box, then that's going to help your running game. That's what happened on Sunday. He's not going to have those big games every time. There is also variation and that's the fun part of football – we can second-guess on Monday. He wants 2,000 yards, and the way these two are going to have the patience to work off each other, 2,000 is well within his range.

VU: What were your initial impressions of Percy Harvin?

BL: He really impressed me more than what I thought he would. He did so many things, from kickoff returns to running to catching the ball. He's really a dynamic player for his first league game in the NFL. I think they threw a lot at him and I think they did a great coaching job with him as far as knowing what he did best and what he can comprehend. You don't want to give a rookie too much. They gave him a lot and found out what he's most comfortable with and I think they went with that on opening day. They reaped some excellent rewards.

VU: With John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt, were you happy with the offensive line?

BL: Any time you give up four sacks, you don't like to see that. It's still a work in progress with Sullivan and Loadholt. With Bryant McKinnie and Steve Hutchinson on the left side, they're in pretty good shape. The Browns were doing some moving around and the line did miss a couple of pickups. I think eight games they won't miss that. That's going to take time. Loadholt, to throw a rookie out at that position and expect him not to make a mistake, you're living with blinders on. It's going to happen. If you're looking for any improvement from that game, I think the offensive line could pick it up just a little bit. But then when you have a running back going for 180 yards, I don't think you can say the offensive line sucks. Obviously, it doesn't. But a little too many hits on Favre. It seemed like he was going back there and the blitzes weren't picked up properly. I thought he had a little too much pressure on him.

VU: Speaking of those hits, did you feel like any of those were on Favre and him not getting rid of the ball, maybe not being sure where and when his receivers would break?

BL: Yes, a couple of times. Brett is going to stick in there as long as he can. He doesn't care about taking a hit. It's like Percy Harvin saying he learned more in 3½ weeks with Brett Favre than he did with all the coaches he's had in his entire football career. The receivers have to change their mentality on how they are expecting Favre to throw to them. The receivers are going to get better because they have to know that even Favre's fourth option could be in play quickly. Their awareness has to pick up. The yardage of the routes they run has to be precise. They all have to be like Raymond Berry with that. The receivers are going to make the adjustments. The quarterback is reading all the defensive backs and the wide receivers have their coverage to read, and they had better read it exactly that way. They have to be on the same page.

VU: What stuck out for you positively or negatively on defense?

BL: I was tickled pink with E.J. Henderson and just the way he closed and his acceleration. I don't think I realized how much they really missed him last year until you see what he adds to that defense, even as well as they did against the run last year. That was the most impressive thing. I think Ray Edwards played a whale of a game; he was strong on the line of scrimmage. Edwards and the Williams Wall have to make the sacks because they are chipping on Jared Allen. They doubled, and one time I think they tripled on Allen's side, so your other end and tackles have to pick it up. And I thought Edwards had a great game and took advantage of doubling on Allen.

One more thing: I absolutely loved the opening call. The play was there. The special teams coordinator is working hard to find a way to find a spot to throw in a trick play. So they are believing in their special teams and they are believing in their defense. That's what they did back in the Purple People Eater days. We didn't care. We'd go out and stop anything you've got. So the coaches believe in the defense. Now every team has to prepare for that and every front line they play isn't going to leave as quickly, and if that front line stays in a little longer the edge goes to the coverage people. That was nothing but a positive. If I was a coach, I'd throw in reverses on punts, fake field goals – all that stuff – in training camp and preseason so teams would have to prepare for that. I loved that call.


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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