- Adrian Peterson
- Offensive Line
- Joe Webb
- Wild Card?
- Blitz Happy?
- Comeback Player
- Stick Around
The Vikings inactives today are: Quarterbacks Brett Favre and Rhett Bomar, cornerback Asher Allen, wide receivers Sidney Rice and Jauquin Iglesias, offensive lineman Thomas Walsh, linebacker Erin Henderson, and defensive end Jimmy Kennedy.
What I’ll be watching today…
Adrian Peterson quietly gained more than 100 yards rushing last week. It was a quiet performance because rookie quarterback Joe Webb absorbed all the spotlight with his delightful play against the Eagles.
But Peterson’s ability to run is a central reason why Webb was so successful.
The Lions gave up 154 yards rushing during last week’s victory over the Miami Dolphins and 176 yards during their overtime victory against Tampa Bay the week before.
So how will AP close out the season? How many yards will he accumulate today despite…
…an offensive line that has, I would argue, been the single biggest factor contributing to this abysmal season. Will they find enough to open some holes for Adrian Peterson? Will he get his yards despite them?
Beware the Red Zone because the line has not shown any ability to knock defenders off the line of scrimmage. When we get two yards out or closer, have you noticed how many times our running backs get stacked up? There’s no push whatsoever.
I would do play-action passes or roll outs down there exclusively.
Can they protect the rookie in the passing game? The failure to protect the quarterback on passing plays is the primary reason Brett Favre has had such a poor season and the only reason he’s been sitting on the bench since suffering a concussion early in the Bears game.
It’s a big, big deal that will need to be the primary focus of shoring up during the offseason. But it’s not as big of a problem with Joe Webb taking snaps than it is when Favre is calling the plays.
I want to see an encore performance from Young Joe Webb today, of course. I like him. I like everything about him on paper and a lot of what I’ve seen on the field thus far. I hope he gets a chance to win the starting position next season.
I’d like to see him get the ball out quicker to his receivers on the wide receiver screen and the swing pass. I’d like to see him execute a couple of traditional screen plays to running backs. I’d like to see him throw the ball away when a play is not there. I’d like to see him have the presence of mind to toss the ball away rather than taking a sack without incurring a grounding penalty.
This should be another great chance to see what we’ve got with Webb because he’ll be playing with some handicaps. He will be without Sidney Rice and with a gimpy Bernard Berrian and we know, when Bernard is hurting, he might not last too long.
He ain’t no Percy Harvin, that’s fer sure.
So in addition to Harvin and Berrian, Webb’s complement of receivers will be Greg Camarillo, Greg Lewis, Hank Baskett. The only receiver that should strike fear in the Lions is Harvin.
Depending on how Detroit plays Webb, he’ll either have to deal with excessive blitzes or he’ll have to try and figure out coverage if the Lions opt for trying to confuse the rookie with disguised blitzes, fake blitzes and zone coverage.
In that case, he’ll need to lean heavily on center John Sullivan for pre-snap calls but he’s still going to have to diagnose the defense.
Can he do it?
We know the receiving corps is depleted but we’ve also got one Lorenzo Booker on the roster. I like what I’ve seen of him and I’m excited about his potential in the Vikings offense.
He’s show he can make people miss, he’s got some elusiveness, speed and burst but he also appears to be a multidimensional back. We’ve seen him line up as a receiver and he’s got soft hands.
Will Booker be utilized in the passing game as another receiver today?
However he’s used, I’d love to get a good long look at him today to have a better idea of where he might fit next year.
The only real question I have on the defensive side of the ball is whether or not Fred Pagac will go all blitz-crazy on the Lions like he did against the Eagles.
If it worked so well against Michael Vick, imagine what it might look like against Shaun Hill.
The Lions, of course, will have prepared for it and unlike the Eagles, they are less likely to go long as often as the Vick-to-Jackson or -Maclin connection does, so if that’s the Vikings plan, we’ll see a lot of short passes, screens and run audibles. Shaun Hill, remember, is a nine-year vet, so he’s not going to be easily flustered.
The number newly-acquired wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias will wear. Iglesias wore number 17 with the Bears but that’s Greg Lewis‘ number.
I’ve discussed previously how while I think Michael Vick definitely deserves consideration for Most Valuable Player, I do not believe he merits Comeback Player of the Year because of the circumstances by which he is being considered were self-inflicted.
When you remove Vick from the discussions, I believe the clear leader for the honor is our own E.J. Henderson.
Not only did E.J. return from a grotesque snap of his femur, he remarkably returned in time to start this season’s first game, start every one since, and play at a high level, all while defying most people (yours truly included) who believed his career was over. Henderson also set the precedent and medical/rehabilitation protocol for how a professional athlete returns from a broken femur.
Sports Illustrated‘s Don Banks makes a great case for Henderson. Banks has a bit more credibility than most national NFL reporters because he was a Vikings beat writer for the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press during the mid-90s.
By the way: Check out Banks’ Twitter feed. The Vikings must’ve really turned him off from Twitter: He hasn’t tweeted since expressing his disgust with the ugly play during the loss to the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium.
I probably shouldn’t be pointing this out because it will likely happen to me some day, but it was quite amusing to read Kevin Seifert‘s piece a day before Judd Zulgad reported the Vikings were in talks with Frazier about hiring him full-time, that logic dictated that Frazier was not the Wilf’s man.
So you might want to keep the radio tuned to the post-game shows or to hang around Vikings.com for the live stream of the post-game press conferences to see if Zygi Wilf steps to the podium to introduce Leslie Frazier as the Vikings head coach for 2011.