VU: After what you saw in the game against the Packers, do you think the offensive line is coming around, and is it just a matter of communication for them?
BL: The biggest word you used there was communication. They're learning how to block certain schemes because they made a couple mental mistakes. As we mentioned earlier, they don't see that 3-4 that much, but now they've seen it three of the four games that they've played. I know that Brett Favre was complimenting the offensive line during his press conference and mentioned that before some of it was his fault for holding onto the ball too long at times. Also, remember that the linemen have to know how far he's dropping. If it's a five-step drop and then there isn't an open man and Favre decides to drop further, the offensive lineman has played for a certain drop and it makes the offensive lineman look bad when it wasn't his mistake. You have to be very cautious whenever anybody criticizes an offensive lineman. There are times they are getting beat to the outside with a speed rush or even to the inside. They are going to get beat; nobody is perfect. But I see great improvement and I see great communication. That's a great combination to have.
VU: What about the run blocking? Are their struggles the last couple of games due to too many guys being up in the box on defense and there is no way they can block all of them to get Adrian Peterson 100 yards consistently?
BL: If they get eight or more in the box and they're getting away from that normal 4-3 or 3-4 and they're pressing like that, you don't have enough bodies to block it all. Everybody can't be accounted for. When they do that, that sets up the pass. Some people say that the run sets up the pass, but the pass sets up the run too. When you're playing against this team, you're picking your own poison. Are you going to stop Adrian Peterson or Brett Favre? They seem to think, ‘Let's stop Adrian Peterson first' and then maybe fake some blitzes where you can drop back in different coverage and hope you can confuse Brett Favre, which I think is impossible with his experience.
VU: On defense they switched Jared Allen around from right to left end quite a bit. Do you like that move?
BL: The answer to your question is, ‘Does Jared Allen like it?' I played all five positions when we had a five-man line. When I would switch positions, the offensive lineman wouldn't know if I was a power rusher or finesse rusher. To a degree he did, but now when you get in there for the first time and hypothetically he had been facing Gary Larsen doing bull rush after bull rush and I come in there and do a finesse move, it's a great chance for me to get an easy sack. It's a plus, as long as the defensive lineman likes that position. I didn't like left tackle as a rule; I don't know why. I just wasn't comfortable there. I loved left end, but my favorite was the right side. That comes into play, and Jared Allen feels comfortable at left end. I hate and will never support Jared Allen in coverage. I've talked to some quarterbacks and they say if you're reading quickly, you don't account for a defensive lineman to be down in coverage. They even had Pat Williams in coverage once. If I had false teeth, I would have spit them out. I'd much rather have Allen rushing than covering.
VU: What did you think of Brian Robison? He seemed to do some good things with more opportunities when Ray Edwards was out with a hamstring.
BL: I talked to him Friday and his body language was great. He was happy he was getting some more snaps. You want to play on Sunday. He's got the old spark back in his eyes. Ray Edwards is playing very well, and they are putting Robison inside at tackle a few times. Ray is playing pretty well. I talked to him Friday. He was down after the game, and when I talked to him Friday he was a little worried about the hamstring and I'm sure that was on his mind after the game. He was glad they won, but you don't mess with hammies because that's the one that you can pull at any time and sometimes it just doesn't heal until the offseason. But his is minor. He was happy.
VU: When you talk about defenses having to pick their poison, do you think that's what is going on with the tight ends having such good games against the Vikings defense the last two weeks? Vernon Davis had 97 yards against them for San Francisco and then Jermichael Finley had 128 for Green Bay.
BL: Opposing teams sometimes surprise me with how much they try to establish the run, and I think the quarterbacks see the defense shutting it down and they pick up on the tight end. That could be the quick hitter for the quarterback when the defense is shutting down the run because the linebackers will start hedging a little bit. You kind of forget about the element of surprise sometimes on defense and I think that offenses now have found that open area in the Vikings' zone when they are blitzing.
VU: On the entertainment scale, how did that Green Bay game rate for you?
BL: I can't remember a game that was as exciting as this one was. The Packers were in it until the end and that's not a bad football team. They've got a beat-up line and Aaron Rodgers is a darn good quarterback. He threw for over 300 yards, but a lot of times the score dictated to give him a little bit of yardage. But he's a good quarterback. He holds the ball too much sometimes and I think he'll learn. When Ben Leber nailed him on that one play, he never saw him. But after this game, it was so neat to see how excited Zygi Wilf was and him just showing his love for the game. I've seen that from him since my days with the New York Giants and he was a great fan of them. It's a rush for me to see him that excited for this team.
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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