Daily Chat: Take Two

Some more thoughts from the Vikings victory over Washington after having had a chance to review the tape…



After the loss to the Bears, I discussed how the Vikings were in dire need of pressure up the middle, primarily in the form of the Kevin Willaims of old.

Sunday’s performance was what I had in mind.

Almost all of the pressure the Vikings brought to bear on Donovan McNabb was a direct result of Kevin Willaims’ stellar play.

Though he missed an interception that he might’ve been able to take to the house, Willaims’ pressure allowed Brian Robison to record a sack and Jared Allen can thank Willaims for a sack, as well.

Willaims knocked down a McNabb pass at the line on a third down, forcing the Skins to kick a field goal and it was Willaims’ pressure that forced an underthrow by McNabb on the deep pass on which Madieu Williams got roasted…again.

On the play, Anthony Armstrong just blew by Madieu Williams, who was playing too close to the line, who did not jam Armstrong, and who was helpless once Armstrong ran past him.

Armstrong was so wide open he had time to camp under the ball and were it not for Kevin Willaims’ pressure, Armstrong certainly would’ve scored.

While I’m picking on Madieu, I suppose I might as well point out that he even when he plays flawlessly, he screws things up. Exhibit A would be the interception he had in both hands after positioning himself perfectly for the pick, only to fail to maintain control as he hit the ground.

Madieu Williams might learn a thing or two about holding onto a pick by watching how E.J. Henderson flies through the air to take advantage of Santana Moss‘ deflection of a Donovan McNabb pass.

Henderson leaped into the air to grab the ball with both hands for the pick. None of this arm-cradling crap.

Poor McNabb. That pass hit Moss in the shoulder (plunk) yet his receiver not only couldn’t catch the damn ball, he deflected it high in the air for a pick that set up the Vikings offense deep in Washington territory.

Henderson also had a very nice Winfieldesque shoestring tackle that prevented what looked to be a very long run.

The number of pounds the 5’11” 182 lbs. Washington receiver Anthony Armstrong gives up to Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway (6’2″ 242 lbs.). [WATCH Chad Greenway Crush Anthony Armstrong.]

As I noted yesterday, Sidney Rice was a non-factor for the second week in a row after coming off the PUP list.

You typically give a player the benefit of the doubt when coming back from injury but given all the questions surrounding Rice’s injury and motivation (or lack thereof) for returning, I feel compelled to point out that he gave up on his route on the deep ball Brett Favre threw up for him to go run under.

The Vikings should bring in Hall of Fame-nominated receiver Cris Carter to teach Percy Harvin how to catch with this hands. On those curl routes where Harvin sits down between coverage, all too often he catches the ball with his arms.

Under former head coach Brad Childress, the Vikings too often abandoned the run game early.

That was definitely not the case Sunday, as the Pioneer PressJeremy Fowler points out, quoting tackle Bryant McKinnie: “We never got away from the run; that was our main focus.”

It sounds like run-first is what you should expect from here on out, considering interim head coach Leslie Frazier told Fowler: “If you go back to 2008 when we won the NFC North, we were a dominant run defense, a dominant run offense. I think that’s who we are. We kind of lost that identity along the way, but we should be able to run the football on anybody with the hall of fame quarterback we have.”

Speaking of identity, the Pioneer PressBob Sansevere has this doozy of a quote from Leslie Frazier in the event both Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart went down: “It would have been Tahi. He would have had to have been the guy.”

To which I would, of course, reply with The Scream: Nnnnnnnoooooooooo!

The primary reason the Vikings were able to run the ball so effectively, with or without Adrian Peterson, was that the offensive line was getting fantastic push off the snap.

On play after play, it seemed the Vikings runner had a three yard cushion before he had to deal with defenders.

The run-heavy game plan helped the offensive line establish a rhythm that was uninterrupted by penalties. It was not until there was about three and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter that the Vikings were called for their first penalty of the game, a false start by Ryan Cook.

You need no more proof than that that Leslie Frazier‘s call for a return to fundamentals was heeded by his team.

Poor Toby Gerhart. He has the game of his young career and he can get absolutely no love from the Vikings official photographer, with not one picture on the Vikings website documenting his 22 carries.