Tag:Cedric Griffin
Posted on: December 24, 2011 1:28 pm
Edited on: December 24, 2011 1:32 pm
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Percy Harvin knocked out of MIN-WAS game

By Josh Katzowitz

UPDATE: Harvin has returned to the game.

Despite having Adrian Peterson and Cedric Griffin, who actually made the start today, the Vikings handed the ball to Percy Harvin on a rush attempt early in the first quarter against the Redskins.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, Harvin – who’s been beat to hell lately with an illness, finger injury, ankle injury and rib injury – hurt himself again after rushing into a pile of Redskins, left the game and walked to the locker room.

Early indications are that Harvin might have suffered an arm injury.

After not utilizing Harvin much last week (he caught three passes for eight yards and rushed once for minus-one yard), the Vikings might have been using Harvin to try to jump-start the offense. But it’s hard to jump-start anything when one of your top receivers is in the locker room.


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CLE-BAL | DEN-BUF | TB-CAR | ARI-CIN | OAK-KC | MIA-NE | NYG-NYJ | STL-PIT | JAC-TEN | MIN-WAS

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Posted on: November 20, 2011 6:09 pm
 

Heyward-Bey has feeling, should travel home

D. Heyward-Bey had feeling after this hit (AP).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Early in the fourth quarter of the Raiders-Vikings game, Darrius Heyward-Bey caught a pass across the middle of the field, and while Cedric Griffin tackled him, E.J. Henderson’s knee caught Heyward-Bey in the head and knocked off his helmet.

While the play looked serious and awfully scary, Raiders coach Hue Jackson said Heyward-Bey had full use of extremities. Jackson also said he was optimistic that Heyward-Bey would travel home with his teammates tonight.

Heyward-Bey led the team with four catches for 43 yards in Oakland's win, and as he was stretchered off the field, his raised his left hand to the sky, much to the relief of everybody watching.

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 9:43 am
 

Film Room: Bears vs. Vikings preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Few people are excited about this week’s Sunday Night game. The 1-4 Vikings and 2-3 Bears look like non-contenders in an NFC North division housing a pair of 5-0 clubs. This Film Room post is not about the Bears-Vikings game. We’ll touch on the matchup towards the end simply because it’d be weird not to. But the main point here is to examine why the Tampa 2 defense – which both these teams run – is on its death bed.



1. Tampa 2: What it is
The Tampa 2 (aka Cover 2) is a classic zone scheme. Four pass-rushers up front; three linebackers underneath; a left and right cornerback outside; and, as the "2" refers to, two safeties over the top.

Against the pass, as the illustration to the right (click to enlarge) shows, the safeties each cover half the field deep. The linebackers and cornerbacks each cover 1/5th of the field underneath. The middle linebacker is responsible for any vertical routes inside. Up front, the linemen shoot the gaps. There’s no blitzing.

The advantages are that all pass defenders have straightforward responsibilities and the action (for the most part) always takes place in front of them. As for the disadvantage ...

2. Run Defense
In football there are two traditional ways to stop the run: have a defensive line that wins battles in the trenches or have a strong-tackling safety drop down as an eighth man in the box. A Cover 2 naturally misses on both of these. The defensive linemen are instructed to rush the passer first and play the run if it’s convenient along the way.

Defensive line penetration is great for stopping the run, but it can be hit or miss (especially if the offense knows that the defensive linemen are trying to penetrate on every play). The safeties must stay back and cover deep. If they step forward, they run the risk of biting on play-action (which is a great way to get beat deep).

Because of this, Tampa 2 defenses rely on their linebackers and cornerbacks (yes, cornerbacks) to stop the run. More on this in item 4.
Worth noting is that not all Tampa 2 defenses are bad against the run. In fact, the Vikings and Bears have been spectacular in run defense over the years. That’s a product of phenomenal personnel.

The Vikings have had the Williams Wall at tackle (and Pat Williams actually played a nose tackle role, which is a twist on a traditional Cover 2 front) and the Bears have had star linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. But Tampa 2 teams without top-echelon run-stuffers (like the Colts) are very susceptible to the run.

3. Tampa 2 vulnerabilities
Cover 2 defenses are vanilla by nature. That was fine in the late 90s and early 2000s when the scheme was still new and offenses weren’t spreading the field every down. But complex, motion-oriented offenses have an easy time creating mismatches against a Cover 2.

Heck, even basic offensive formations can create mismatches. For example, something the Eagles do against a Cover 2 is line up their speedy receivers in minus splits (close to the formation).

Because Cover 2 cornerbacks always line up outside, this formation dictates that DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin run their routes against linebackers and safeties. Talk about a mismatch.

There are other avenues for mismatches. For a long time, Cover 2 defenses did not have No. 1 and No. 2 corners, but instead, left and right corners. If the left corner stunk, offenses would simply align their best receiver over there. Mercifully, most Cover 2 defenses (the Bears and Vikings included) have recently shown a willingness to at least move their corners from one side to the other based on where they expect certain receivers to be.

That still doesn’t mean a defense will get the corner-on-receiver matchup it desires. This past Monday, Calvin Johnson ran what amounted to a slant-and-go against the Bears’ Cover 2. Charles Tillman stayed with Johnson for about 15 yards. He should have jammed Johnson in an effort to reroute him. Instead, he played the basic Cover 2 technique, which meant he let Johnson go once Johnson went inside towards safety Chris Harris’ deep zone. That left the most athletic wideout in the world matched up on a strong safety. The result was a 73-yard touchdown.

Besides matchup issues, there are natural voids in the Cover 2 that everyone knows about. The gaps 15-20 yards downfield outside the numbers are the main ones, though the voids behind the linebackers in the seams can be enticing too. Really, Cover 2 is the new Prevent Defense. And because the Cover 2 became such a popular defense in the early 2000s, every offense in the NFL has a special chapter in its playbook specifically designed for beating it.

4. Stringent personnel needs
Obviously, a Cover 2 is not a completely hapless defense. If it were, nobody would run it. With the right personnel, the scheme can be quite viable. A great defensive line can sometimes be enough; look at the 2011 Lions or previous years’ Colts, for example (But keep in mind, great defensive lines are going to make any scheme look good.)

Because of the Cover 2’s simplicity and NFL offense’s familiarity with it, the “right personnel” has gone from being “strongly recommended” to “absolutely required”. And the bar for the “right personnel” has risen considerably.

In a Cover 2, you must generate a pass-rush with only four defensive linemen. Thus, you need top-notch speed rushers and defensive tackles with outstanding initial quickness. Those types of players are usually found only in the first rounds.
 
Because the cornerbacks only defend the first 10-15 yards outside, and because the safeties are aligned so deep, Cover 2 cornerbacks are counted on as part of the run defense. Thus, they need to be good tacklers. This is why Antoine Winfield is so potent in Minnesota’s D. Or why, in part, Ronde Barber has stuck around for so long in Tampa Bay. Or why Indianapolis always brings in firm-tackling corners.

It’s also why you’re always hearing about Tampa 2 teams needing fast linebackers. Yes, the linebackers need speed in order to play the pass (especially the middle linebacker, who must run with any targets running vertically between the numbers). But really, Tampa 2 linebacker speed is needed for stopping the run. With the cornerbacks lined up along the front, the defensive linemen are told to shoot the gaps and force runners to that help outside. It’s up to the linebackers to chase them down along the way.

Finding quality Cover 2 type players is certainly not impossible. Problem is, if you don’t have the right guy in every spot, offenses can easily punish you. If a team like the Packers has a weak spot on D, they can use disguises and zone blitz concepts to cover it. If a team like the Bears or Vikings have a weak spot, they can only hope that their defensive ends reach the quarterback before the quarterback exploits it.  

5. Studs and Duds
The star defensive players for both teams have lived up to their end of the deal. For the Bears, middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has moved with more quickness and fluidity than in any of the past three seasons. Monday night’s game aside, Lance Briggs has been the fierce hitter he always is. Julius Peppers has only two sacks, but he’s been a force in bits, if not chunks. Opposite him, Israel Idonije, who has great movement skills and a real feel for executing moves based on the situation, remains one of the most underrated ends in the game.

For the Vikings, Jared Allen has recaptured his 2008/2009 form. End Brian Robison has been fast and tenacious. In fact, he’s having a much better season than Ray Edwards is having in Atlanta. As usual, defensive tackle Kevin Williams has shown his uncommon mobility/power combination. Cornerback Cedric Griffin has been stout in coverage, and E.J. Henderson, while not always great versus the pass, remains a smart, assertive downhill force against the run.
 
The problem is both teams have had a propensity to give up big plays, in part due to iffy play at safety. It’s worse with the Bear than the Vikings. But, on the flip side, the Vikings’ offense has been worse than the Bears’. We could write a thousand posts explaining what’s wrong with both offenses. In short, neither has a good line nor the receivers necessary for their respective systems.

Perhaps this is the week that these offenses find their rhythms through the air. After all, both will be facing plenty of Cover 2 looks.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 6 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: April 10, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2011 4:43 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Minnesota Vikings

Posted by Andy Benoit



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups .



The Vikings’ perils couldn’t have been any worse for Minnesotans and any better for bloggers. Brett Favre drama took on a whole new tenor. Added to the cacophony of “Will he play?” questions was “Do you think it was him?” speculation.

Favre’s acrimonious relationship with Brad Childress did not improve, either, which was part of the reason the head coach was unable to survive through November.

Things didn’t pick up once Childress was fired. Symbolically, and fortunately for Zygi Wilf and his cadre of business cohorts seeking a new stadium, also literally, the Metrodome roof collapsed, leaving this team homeless for the holidays. The novelty of relocated Monday night games distracted from the fact that the Vikings finished the season in the same way they started it: with a thud.



Fullbacks

There is no reason to keep Naufahu Tahi on the roster. Even if the 29-year-old fullback had played well in 2010 (and he did not), his presence would be a hindrance. Adrian Peterson is a violent, decisive runner who does not have good patience when it comes to setting up his blocks. Peterson’s natural tendency is to get the ball and explode.

When there is a fullback in front of him, he’s forced to slow down and wait for the play to develop. Tahi, like most fullbacks, can’t hit the hole as quickly as Peterson can, even when he’s starting out two yards closer to the hole.

Peterson is better in an empty backfield. And, with a plethora of tight ends already on the roster, including blocking specialists Jeff Dugan and Jim Kleinsasser, the Vikings are better running out of dual tight end formations anyway. Save a roster spot; dump the fullback.




1. Quarterback
Favre is really gone this time (*) and, with Childress gone, the front office has realized it is finally free to admit that Tarvaris Jackson is not the answer.

2. Offensive Tackle
The Vikings won’t draft someone at this position because that’d be admitting it was a mistake to sign Bryant McKinnie to a long-term deal and invest a second-round draft pick in Phil Loadholt. The reality is, the 6’8” 350-pound McKinnie’s heart is the size of a dwarf’s. The 6’8”, 335-pound Loadholt is still developing but is yet to show any signs of ferocity.

3. Cornerback
Antoine Winfield is creeping up in age but can still play, especially if asked to man the slot. Problem is, Minnesota doesn’t have any stability outside. Cedric Griffin tore both ACL’s at different times in 2010. Asher Allen has become every quarterback’s favorite opponent. Last year’s second-round pick, Chris Cook, has character concerns and just six games to his name, thanks to injuries as a rookie.




This team’s window of opportunity has closed. The Vikings knew this was coming – why do you think they were so desperate in their pursuit of Favre last summer? Now they must develop a new green quarterback behind an offensive line that is much, much worse than people realize (Favre’s quick decision making masked many pass protection deficiencies last season).

The defense, which already needs help in the secondary given that the pass-rush has tailed off, will take a step back if nose tackle Pat Williams does not return (he’s an unrestricted free agent).

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Posted on: October 12, 2010 2:15 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 3:55 pm
 

Cedric Griffin's knee to be examined

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Vikings CB Cedric Griffin is hurt again, and he’s scheduled to undergo an MRI today to determine the extent of the damage.

Griffin hurt himself in the second half of Minnesota’s loss to the Vikings, and he was spotted leaving the New Meadowlands Stadium on crutches.

Griffin tore the ACL in his left knee during last year’s NFC championship game, and he only returned in Week 3 of this season. Now, his right knee is injured.

“It’s something new,” Griffin told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune after the game, declining to give further details.

More from the Star-Trib’s blog post:

If Griffin is lost for an extended period it would be another blow for a cornerback position at which the Vikings have been shorthanded for much of the season.

Griffin and rookie Chris Cook both missed the first two games, meaning the Vikings used Antoine Winfield, Lito Sheppard and Asher Allen as their corners. Cook had torn the meniscus in his right knee in the preseason and didn't return until the Lions game.

At full strength, the Vikings used Winfield and Griffin as their starters at the left and right corner, respectively, and Cook moved to left corner so Winfield could slide inside in nickel situations. But Cook suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee against the Lions and is out again.

Cook was optimistic last week that he wouldn't be sidelined as long this time because the tear in his meniscus was not as severe.
UPDATE (3:23 p.m.): Rapid Reporter Dana Wessel writes that Griffin has a torn ACL and is done for the year.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: September 9, 2010 8:17 am
 

Cedric Griffin in action tonight?

Posted by Andy Benoit

When Cedric Griffin tore his ACL in the NFC Championship loss at New Orleans, no one would have imagined that he’d be playing his next game on that same Superdome field. But such appears to be the case. C. Griffin (US Presswire)

Griffin, Minnesota’s top corner, has been listed as questionable all week. But with rookie Chris Cook now out with his own knee injury, Pro Football Talk says Griffin will be in the lineup Thursday night.

Cook was expected to start opposite veteran Antoine Winfield. Don’t expect Griffin to start. The Vikings will likely go with Pro Bowler turned journeyman Lito Sheppard, a veteran in the Cover 2 scheme but also somewhat of a training camp disappointment. Asher Allen could fill the nickel duties (which he did a few times as a third-round rookie last season).

The Saints, of course, willingly employ four-receiver sets, so even if Griffin is only the No. 4 corner, expect him to see a fair amount of action.

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Posted on: September 7, 2010 12:38 pm
 

Hot Routes 9.7.10 priming for Week 1

Posted by Andy Benoit

With Johnathan Casillas on Injured Reserve (foot), the Saints are trying to figure out who to start at weakside linebacker.

The Ravens aren’t sure who will be available at right tackle against the Jets on Monday. Top option Jared Gaither has been battling back problems; backup Oniel Cousins is still recovering from a concussion.

This is the time of year where quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan usually latches on with a new team. This year, he chose the Chargers. This is O’Sullivan’s ninth different team in the past nine years.


Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens have joined forces for a reality show on Versus. They both had shows on VH1 that recently came to a close.

If, by chance, you care about a bunch of low-level Bronco players getting new jersey numbers, then click here.

Mike McCarthy is willing to use his starters on special teams this season. He must have watched the ’09 Steelers closely. (Most notable starter on special teams: cornerback Tramon Williams, who will be returning punts.)

Nice story here: Dolphins CB Sean Smith reunited with his sisters after 14 years.

Vikings CB Cedric Griffin is ahead of schedule on his ACL recovery and could play against the Saints. Griffin tore his ACL in the NFC Championship game. With Wes Welker and Jamaal Jackson returning, as well, it’s time to reexamine the way we view ACL injuries.

The Jaguars avoided a blackout for their season opener. (The Broncos are coming to town; the Tebow factor?)


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Posted on: September 6, 2010 10:03 pm
 

Favre shows up on season's first injury report

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL released its first injury report of the season today (all together now: YEEEEEEEEEEEAAH !) and while there's not a ton of surprising news, per se, there is something that we should get used to seeing -- "Brett Favre (ankle)."

Favre was listed despite having full participation in practice and given his state of health, it's unlikely he won't be on that list most every week that he plays (which would, given his track record, seem like about 16 times, not counting the postseason).

Also listed for the Vikings are Toby Gerhart (knee), Cedric Griffin (knee), Jamarca Sanford (ankle) and John Sullivan (calf), who all had limited participation in practice, and Chris Cook (knee) and Jimmy Kennedy (knee) who didn't practice.

The Saints included Marques Colston (kidney), Jimmy Graham (ankle) and Pierson Prioleau (knee) as those who had full participation, Tracy Porter (knee), Zach Strief (knee) and Jonathan Vilma (groin) as limited and Stanley Arnoux (ankle) and Chris Ivory (knee) as those that didn't practice.

So, yeah, the point being is that Favre's listed, but he's probably fine and we know that football is truly here when Favre is listed on an injury report.

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