- Under Pressure
- Visanth(e) Shiancoe
- Webb At Receiver, Wildcat?
- DeGeare’s Big Chance
- Return Game
- Crowd Love
WHAT I’LL BE WATCHING
Some things I’ll be watching for today…
Can the Vikings get pressure on Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick? Can they do it with a four-man rush, possibly with a rotation featuring Brian Robison and rookie Everson Griffen instead of starting defensive end Ray Edwards?
Will the Vikings front seven be able to effectively contain the mobile Fitzpatrick should he decide to resort to his legs?
If the Vikings are to get pressure from their four-man front, Kevin Willaims will need to prove he’s decided to show up for good by building on the disruptive performance he turned in last week.
If the Vikings need to blitz to bring pressure, will Fitzpatrick be able to take advantage?
If the Vikings blitz, I’d expect more blitzes coming from linebackers than from defensive backs because the Bills have struggled to find answers at the tight end position, a primary outlet to defeat the linebacker blitz.
While Brett Favre will likely be handing the ball off a lot today, when he does throw the ball I’d expect to see tight end Visanth(e) Shiancoe on the receiving end of a lot of those passes.
The Bills defense has had trouble all year stopping with athletic tight ends and Shank qualifies in that category. Add to that the fact that Buffalo’s linebacking corps is battered and bruised, and it could prove to be a big day for Shiancoe, especially with Percy Harvin out of the lineup.
WEBB AT RECEIVER, WILDCAT?
Rookie quarterback Joe Webb will be active for the first game of his NFL career today. That probably because receivers Percy Harvin, Greg Lewis, and Hank Baskett are out, leaving the Vikings with only Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice and Greg Camarillo as receiving options for Brett Favre.
While Leslie Frazier pooh-poohed the idea of Webb playing receiver, as he has had zero reps at the position, he did joke that he might make an appearance at tailback.
Was it just a joke or is Webb simply active today as insurance?
DeGEARE’S BIG CHANCE
Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson is out today which means rookie Chris DeGeare will get his first NFL start at left guard today.
His performance will be crucial to the Vikings run game, which they plan to lean heavily on today. Count the number of runs to either side of center to see how confident the coaching staff feels of DeGeare’s capability.
Having given up a long kick return for a touchdown this season and nearly giving up another last week were it not for a Washington penalty, the Vikings face Leodis McKelvin this week, who is fast and has been close to taking it to the house this season.
The Bills return game is rated 12th best in the league.
Leslie Frazier had no shame in begging Vikings fans to raise the roof at Mall of America Field today…so how will the fans respond now that it’s Frazier at the helm instead of Brad Childress?
If the Vikings start by stumbling as they so often have this season, will the crowd have patience and/or mercy, given the change of regimes?