Posted on: April 10, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2011 4:43 pm
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.
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.
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.
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: November 1, 2010 3:21 am
Edited on: November 1, 2010 10:53 am
Posted by Andy Benoit
Tags: Aqib Talib, Arizona Cardinals, Asher Allen, B.J. Raji, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brandon Chillar, Brandon Meriweather, C.J. Wilson, Charlie Weiss, Cincinnati Bengals, Clay Matthews, Dallas Cowboys, Darren McFadden, Denver Broncos, Derek Anderson, Detroit Lions, Devin McCourty, Donovan McNabb, Frank Gore, Green Bay Packers, Isaac Bruce, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jared Allen, Jason Campbell, Josh Freeman, Kansas City Chiefs, Kyle Orton, Larry Fitzgerald, Max Hall, Miami Dolphins, Mike Shanahan, Mike Wright, Minnesota Vikings, Ndamukong Suh, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, NFL London, Oakland Raiders, Phil Loadholt, Pittsburgh Steelers, Randy Moss, Rex Grossman, Ron Brace, Ryan Succop, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Steve Weatherford, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Todd Haley, Tom Brady, Vincent Jackson, Washington Redskins
Posted on: October 22, 2010 9:47 am
Posted by Andy Benoit
Bryant McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson, Ryan Cook, Anthony Herrera and Phil Loadholt should all send Jenn Sterger a gift. Obviously, not the kind their quarterback allegedly sent her. But something nice. You know, to show their appreciation. In fact, they should send Favre a gift, too. And Randy Moss.
Thanks to Sterger, Favre and Moss, no one is talking about Minnesota’s inconsistent offensive line. Yes, injuries at the wide receiver position have hurt the Vikings. And Favre has been less careful with the football this season (though the difference between ’09 Favre and ’10 Favre is not as drastic as most think). But inconsistency up front has been just as significant to the Vikings’ problems in 2010.
One of the greatest myths in all of football is that the Vikings have an upper-tier offensive line. This myth stems directly from the erroneous reports that left tackle Bryant McKinnie is a good player. There’s a difference between being big and talented and actually being effective. McKinnie has shoddy technique in pass protection (hence his benching in the Carolina game last season) and, quite frankly, he’s soft on contact.
Steve Hutchinson, who turns 33 November 1, is not quite the player he was a few years ago – his decline shows up against bull-rushers in pass protection – but shrewd run-blocking angles and fluid mobility still make him a top five guard.
The problem is that Hutchinson has been forced to play next to three different centers – John Sullivan, Jon Cooper and, lately, Ryan Cook – who lack power. That has been a major hindrance to Minnesota’s run-blocking efforts, especially when you consider that right guard Anthony Herrera struggles against lateral movement in the ground game and right tackle Phil Loadholt often seems to forget he’s 6’8”, 332 pounds. Herrera is a reliable veteran on a good line. But playing between two callow youngsters, he can be a liability.
Adrian Peterson has helped his offensive line this season by being a more patient runner. But far, far too many of Peterson’s yards are still hard-earned. And without Chester Taylor sharing Peterson’s load, the Vikings have taken a step back in the screen pass game. That has allowed opponents to tee off against this line.
If the Packers can get Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Ryan Pickett (ankle) back, their front seven will be on the right side of a considerable mismatch Sunday night. Matthews skims the corner as well as any pass-rusher in the NFL; because he maintains his startling speed while dipping low, he can really use McKinnie and Loadholt’s height to his advantage. Inside, Pickett and nose tackle B.J. Raji have the thundering power to own the line of scrimmage.
The Vikings, of course, have enough talent at the skill positions to overcome blocking deficiencies. They managed to survive last week against a Cowboys pass-rush that swarmed their backfield throughout the first half. But last season it became just a little harder each week for the Vikings to camouflage their blocking weaknesses. That issue has carried over in 2010.
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