Lurtsema's Reaction: Assessments at 2-0

How's that run defense? Is this the Brett Favre that was expected? How is the offensive line, with two first-year starters, playing? Is Percy Harvin's absence a concern? Former Vikings defensive lineman Bob Lurtsema breaks down the topics of the week.

VU: Let's start with your thoughts on the run defense. Since they've given up more yards than they have in the past few years on average, is there any concern for you there?

BL: Not really. I think what happened, some of the lineman and linebackers might have been over-aggressive and getting out of their lanes. It seemed like whenever they moved out of the line that was the place that Detroit intended to run to start with, so it was kind of a double negative. It boils down to the players needing to be a little more disciplined on certain calls, especially when sending linebackers. Overall, though, I'm not worried.

VU: Is that more likely to happen early in the season when players might be overly excited and wanting to do more than maybe they should?

BL: They don't play enough in the preseason. Bud Grant would seem to play the regulars more so you were a little more in sync the first few games, where now it seems like they almost place themselves into shape in the first two or three games. I think you can tell by some of the scores and things that happen around the league, it seems like pretty much everybody in the NFL is doing that.

VU: Offensively, are you of the mindset now that Brett Favre can stay within the structure of the offense and not be that risky gunslinger for the rest of the season?

BL: Brett Favre could stay within any offense on any club. He's not one to go out there and go off by himself. If you get behind, he is a gunslinger, but there is a difference between staying within your framework and then when the score dictates having someone take it over. When you're the quarterback and a gunslinger, it's going to exaggerated a problem that I don't think really exists. He has brought so much calm to that offense and so much confidence to the entire team. He's old-school the entire way, he loves to have fun and he loves the game. I've said that for years. With that type of attitude, you really can't go wrong. He'll take what you give him.

VU: I know you're a big supporter of Favre and you obviously have a good relationship with Jim Marshall. What are your feelings about Favre breaking Marshall's record for consecutive starts?

BL: The funny thing about it is that you always like your own teammate to hold onto the record, but those two guys are peas in a pod. You wonder what creates longevity, and that's done by love of the game and enjoyment of the game. These two are truly professional athletes, and they've been lucky enough and have the talent. They've worked through a lot of injuries, but everybody is hurt to some degree. When you leave the game, over 75 percent of the players have some sort of partial or permanent disability. It couldn't have happened to two twins any better. They absolutely mirror each other.

VU: How do you think the offensive line has done, both run blocking and pass protecting so far?

BL: They're having a couple problems, as far as their pass protection goes. The offensive line is tough. They have to know every drop situation that Brett Favre has, know when they can set at seven yards and when they can set a four yards. That takes a little time, especially for Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan. Working together after a little while, like when you had Matt Birk and Steve Hutchinson, they knew what each other was going to do. They slide off and cover for one another as far as the rush scheme goes. But that comes with experience, and you've got two young pups out there. Am I concerned about it? As long as they improve every week, no. As long as they're doing their homework, Brett will help the youth to become better football players and he'll do that with how he throws the ball away and how deep he sets. He'll make the adjustments to help those two young players in the games.

VU: Percy Harvin missed Thursday and Friday's practices with illness. Given the fact that he already missed rookie minicamp and that NFL symposium, this being the third time he's been sick since he's been drafted, are you concerned about that?

BL: I'd be concerned. Talking to him and reading an article on how he played all the way back to high school, there is no quit in the kid. Now all of the sudden he's missing certain practices and then got sick when he was flying to Minnesota for the rookie camp, that definitely becomes a concern. Bud Grant always said you could pretty much predict who is going to be in the tub the first week during two-a-days. Jim Marshall had that special blood because he heals so fast. Other people have a different chemical makeup. Some people will catch the flu if it comes within three miles of them and another guy could jump into a pile of 100 people with the flu and never get it.


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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