This week ahead of the huge matchup on Sunday(yeah I'm being sarcastic) Chris from the great Vikings blog, The Daily Norseman, has agreed to trade 5 questions with me. My answers to his questions are here.
By the way... be sure to check out his response to my question about how feels about the job Brad Childress has done. It'll give you deja vu.
BGN - Forget Pats/Colts, clearly this is the game of the year... Seriously though, there are two exciting playmakers in this game. Brian Westbrook and Adrian Peterson lead the NFC in yards from scrimmage. Could you talk for a sec about the guy that seems like a shoe-in for rookie of the year?
DN - I've been a Vikings fan for about a quarter of a century now, and I can say that during that time, we've had some pretty outstanding running backs. Guys like Chuck Foreman, Robert Smith, Bill Brown, Terry Allen. . .but Adrian Peterson has the potential to be the greatest back this franchise has ever seen. He has the potential to be one of the best this league has ever seen. He's got speed, he's got power, he's got vision, and he's got size. The only thing standing between Adrian Peterson and a long, illustrious career is injury. I don't buy into the stuff about him being "injury prone" that so many people seem to want to perpetuate, but running back is probably the most injury-prone position in football, so it could become an issue at any time.
Basically, the kid is an outstanding talent, and I hope he's putting together highlight reels in Minnesota for a very long time.
BGN - A quick look at the stats will show you that the Vikings are a really great run stopping team, 5th best in the NFL in fact. However, those stats also show you that they're really awful at stopping the pass, dead last in the NFL. How is that possible?
DN - It comes from a combination of reasons, I think. The main one is that teams get so tired of running head-first into the brick wall that is Pat and Kevin Williams that they eventually give up on the idea. Last year, when Minnesota was on the verge of having a historically great rush defense, people would say "Well, teams don't run that much against them." But at the same time, they were giving up less than 3 yards/carry, so when teams WERE trying to run, it just wasn't working.
So, when teams see that running the ball against Minnesota is a pretty tall order, they just drop back and throw the ball every play. The main problem that the Vikings have when that happens is that our pass rush isn't quite where it needs to be. It's improved over last year with the additions of Brian Robison and Ray Edwards to the starting lineup, but it could definitely get a little bit better. The secondary has plenty of talented players, but not even superstar DBs can cover forever when the pass rush isn't there.
BGN - Tarvaris Jackson is supposed to be the future of the franchise, but so far he's had some mixed reviews. What are your thoughts on Jackson and will he even play this weekend?
DN - Fortunately/Unfortunately (and, frankly, I'm not even sure which is appropriate at this point), it sounds as though the start on Sunday is going to go to former Eagle Kelly Holcomb. Jackson apparently has an injured finger on his throwing hand that he sustained in the third quarter of the game against Dallas. As I wrote in an article earlier this week, I'm not sure if this is an injured finger or an "injured finger." (Imagine some air quotes around that second one.)
As far as physical talent, Jackson has everything you want in a quarterback. . .big arm, decent mobility, all of that is there. But as far as the mental aspect, he's clearly not ready to be a starting quarterback at the NFL level. He takes too long to get the ball out, he's not accurate, he flat-out misses wide open receivers constantly, and it looks like he's scared to death to make a mistake. I don't know if he's being overcoached or what the deal is, but he looks completely lost out there. I'm rooting for the guy to make it, I really am. . .but it really doesn't look terribly promising at this point.
BGN - Vikings head coach Brad Childress worked for the Eagles for several years as Andy Reid's offensive coordinator, how do you feel about the job he's done so far?
DN - That depends on how family-friendly you'd like your site to be.
Honestly, though, I just don't get Brad Childress at times. He has this unbelievably annoying tendency to go away from what works on offense, like against Green Bay when Adrian Peterson was over 100 yards rushing by halftime, and the Vikings went out and let Kelly Holcomb throw 25 passes in the second half. He doesn't appear to make very good in-game adjustments, and he seems to be trying to jam a lot of square pegs into round holes. For example, we've got a huge offensive line, average weight of about 315 pounds or so from tackle to tackle, and our offensive scheme is based around a finesse-based zone blocking approach. If you've got a line that big, why not just go out and maul people?
So no, I'm not a huge Brad Childress fan. The guy seems pretty arrogant for someone that really hasn't accomplished that much at the NFL level, and seems more intent on showing everyone how smart he is rather than silly things like. . .oh, I don't know. . .winning football games.
BGN - If you could steal one Eagle for your team, who would it be?
DN - Man. . .so many ways to go on this one.
The obvious answer would probably be Donovan McNabb. He's run this offense before, done it with receivers that are every bit as crappy as Minnesota's current WR corps (although I love me some Sidney Rice), and been successful doing it. A lot of people are saying that with average QB play, the Vikings could be at 4-2 or even 5-1 rather than at 2-4, and it's really hard to argue that point.
With the way this team is currently constructed, however, a more intriguing option might be Shawn Andrews. Think about it. . .Adrian Peterson lining up in the backfield with Bryant McKinnie at LT, Steve Hutchinson at LG, Matt Birk at C, and Shawn Andrews at RG? Shoot, you might not even need a right tackle with a set-up like that.
If it came right down to it, I'd probably end up flipping a coin between those two guys.