Know Your Enemy: Minnesota Vikings Q&A
By Keith Myers
It’s Friday! and that means that it’s almost time for another big game for the Seattle Seahawks. This week, the Seahawks welcome The Minnesota Vikings to CenturyLink Field in what feels like a must win game for the Seahawks.
I figure, the best way to get started looking at exactly who the Vikings are, is to ask an expert on the team. So joining me this week for a quick Q&A is Dan Zinski from The Viking Age.
Oct 25, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) throws during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
1. The team is playing better than last year, but Ponder’s numbers are still below average. Is this just because of the team’s run-first approach on offense, or are there legitimate concerns about the 2nd year passer?
Ponder’s numbers will never be great because, like you said, the Vikings play a ball-control, run-first style. But even when you play that way sometimes your QB will be called upon to make plays. Ponder made some of those plays earlier in the season but he hasn’t been making them the last few weeks. A lot of it is teams game planning to take away Percy Harvin who is really their only receiving threat. A lot of it is teams blitzing heavily. And sometimes it’s just Ponder not making good throws. The biggest problem for me is, when you have kind of an average arm like Ponder does, you have to be so perfect. You can’t come out and make up for a mistake by throwing a 50 yard TD. You have to be incredibly accurate and absolutely not commit turnovers. But he’s been inconsistent in his accuracy and has been turning the ball over. So even though they game plan to take pressure off him, he isn’t playing well.
2. Is there any way to stop Jared Allen? It’s not like he’s sneaking up on teams, and not teams seem to be unable to game plan him away from their QB.
Jared’s numbers aren’t huge this year but he’s still having an impact on games. Teams really don’t seem to be doing anything special with him this year in terms of chipping or doubling up. Mostly it’s just one-on-one blocking. So I think the key is just getting the ball out as fast as possible. That’s the main thing against any team with good speed rushers. If your QB has the habit of holding onto the ball, Jared will get there. In the past teams have tried to take advantage of his up-field speed by running to his side, using his aggressiveness against him.
3. Adrian Peterson is have a great year, even by Adrian Peterson standards. What makes him so good? Are there any concerns that such a heavy workload for him cause problems in the future?
Peterson’s greatness is all about his will. It sounds silly and cliched but in his case it’s true. He just wants it more than the other guy. If there’s one single thing that sets him apart skill-wise I’d say it’s how great he is in traffic. He doesn’t need big holes. He breaks tackles. Even with teams stacking the box, he breaks off five yard runs consistently. And now he’s getting his explosiveness back and hitting the holes hard. It seems his speed burst is back to where it was before the injury. I’m guessing the Vikes would like to limit his workload as much as possible but the problem is, he’s about 70% of their offense right now so they can’t really afford to rest him.
4. The Vikings have played one of the league’s easiest schedules so far this season. Is that 5-3 record a mirage, or is this a team that can stay in the playoff race down the stretch?
The Vikes did get a break with the schedule but they also beat a pretty good San Francisco team and went to Detroit and beat the Lions. So they mixed in a couple of good legit wins there along with beating some weak teams like Jacksonville and Tennessee. Their schedule does get a lot tougher the second half of the season. They’ve got the Packers and Bears twice each, plus Houston. They’ll have to up their game to survive the second half and maybe squeak into the playoffs. A win in Seattle would be huge for building their confidence back up after last week’s mess against Tampa Bay. Not a lot of optimism around here right now though with the way the run defense got shredded and the way the offense played.
5. What do the Seahawks need to do to win this game?
The way things have been going for the Vikes’ run defense the easy answer would be to run Marshawn Lynch until he drops. But I wouldn’t necessarily go to the ground-and-pound. The Vikes’ best outside corner Chris Cook is injured so they’re vulnerable back there. Play action has been a particular issue for them. Their linebackers are overly aggressive at times and get caught out of position. Screens and draws give them fits. They’ve struggled with their defensive discipline the last few games. Playing defense against them is pretty simple. Stop Peterson from breaking big runs, throw a double team on Percy Harvin and watch Christian Ponder throw checkdowns. They have no deep game at all.