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COJOMAY
09-30-2005, 04:36 PM
I know that many in the Twin Cities may have read this report in today's Pioneer Press. But it is an excellent article on the Vikes defensive woes and what the future looks like:

Vikings' defense disappoints

Injuries hurt what was expected to be an improved unit

BY SEAN JENSEN

Pioneer Press

Three games into the season, the Vikings' defense is in an all too familiar position: rated among the NFL's worst.

After acquiring linebackers Sam Cowart and Napoleon Harris and spending $16.8 million in guaranteed bonuses to sign cornerback Fred Smoot, defensive tackle Pat Williams and free safety Darren Sharper, the Vikings rank 28th out of 32 teams.

Rank, indeed.

"We have the potential to be a top-five defense," Sharper said Thursday.

Potential, top five. Reality, bottom five.

Players and coaches insist there are reasons for the slow start. Foremost among them: The rebuilt defense has practiced and played together sparingly since training camp.

The M*A*S*H list is vast.

• Smoot missed much of training camp with neck and knee injuries.

• Cowart sat out the second game with a calf strain.

• Sharper (sprained left knee) did not play last Sunday and might not play this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

• Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson was out last Sunday because of a high ankle sprain.

• Defensive end Lance Johnstone, defensive end Kenechi Udeze and third cornerback Brian Williams are all unlikely to play in Atlanta.

"People are on short fuses around here because they're used to starting out so fast," Smoot said. "But we got new guys, and what we're running now, the guys didn't run last year. You have to grow into that identity."

Throughout the preseason and regular season, a defensive coordinator mixes in more and more plays and schemes, cautious not to overwhelm his players. But with key players out of the lineup, the Vikings' Ted Cottrell has implemented more rudimentary game plans.

"We've got some young guys, and we don't want to have their heads spinning," cornerback Antoine Winfield said. "So we're going to limit the playbook to what guys know."

Even with the back-to-basics approach, mammoth mistakes have been made.

In the season opener, Bucs rookie Carnell Williams broke off a 71-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. Bengals receiver Chad Johnson exploited a coverage breakdown for a 70-yard touchdown catch in the first minute of the second game.

With players shuttling in and out, the Vikings defense lacks two critical "C's" — chemistry and continuity.

"It definitely hurts a lot because when you get used to playing with certain guys, you know how they think, and sometimes, if they make a mistake, you can just fall into the play," Cowart said. "But when you have a lot of guys in and out of the lineup, that definitely hinders the cohesiveness.

"That's where we're at right now. Even though we came off a decent performance against the Saints, we still had 21 mental errors as a defense."

That's at least 15 more than acceptable, according to Cowart.

Inexperience and the lack of continuity play a part in the errors.

For example, Rod Davis played solidly in place of Cowart against the Bengals. But several veterans said Johnson's 70-yard score wouldn't have happened if the veteran Cowart had been in the lineup because players would have been properly aligned.

The Vikings have played two games without defensive leaders, both Cowart and Sharper missing a game apiece.

"Those are the quarterbacks of the defense," Smoot said. "They're two critical positions out there."

Before the season, Sharper projected the defense would be "rolling" by Week 4 or 5. Now, he is estimating another three or four weeks.

"When we get everybody out there, and everyone plays together for a while, I think that's when you'll see us hit our stride," Sharper said. "Hopefully, it'll happen before then."

In the meantime, young players are gaining experience. Davis and Dontarrious Thomas got starts at linebacker, and Willie Offord was playing well until he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the fourth quarter Sunday.

Cowart hopes the injuries will tail off.

"We have a lot of confidence in our second-team guys," he said. "But you can only take so many injuries, and then you're going to start seeing a leakage."

Since Week 1, the Vikings have not had their first-string defense together on the field, in practice or in a game. Cottrell is longing for that time to come.

"Hopefully, we'll get though this spell of little boo-boos and injuries," Cottrell said. "Sooner or later, we'll hopefully have them all out there together.

"I'm looking forward to it."

Del Rio
09-30-2005, 04:49 PM
The thing is Sharper has a history of being hurt, Cowart has been dinged up for the last few years.......

In fact I remember right after we picked Sharper up I found a list of all his reported injuries on SI.com and I had to color code that bad boy it was so long,

LOTS of knee injuries.


This isn't surprising.

6-KINGS
09-30-2005, 04:54 PM
Yeah but if take out the D stats of the first 2 games, we are #1 BABY!!

LOL!

VKG4LFE
09-30-2005, 05:00 PM
We'll be alright, just let our D gel a little longer and then we'll see where we're at.

ShanePurpleBlood
09-30-2005, 05:14 PM
Like a pot roast, our D needs time cook together. We will turn it around.

snowinapril
09-30-2005, 05:24 PM
Honestly, a team may never be 100% healthy, for a whole season. I hope they don't keep making excuses.

We better not hear these comments in 3 weeks, injuries or not. It could become the D's scapegoat if they don't play well.

C-PepNSalt
09-30-2005, 05:35 PM
Do they account for the 11 turnovers to say how bad the defense is...because if it does, we'd be closer to 15 w/o all those turnovers! Some of those games they were on the field 19, 20 minutes!

mfenlon
09-30-2005, 05:40 PM
Is anyone really surprised in our bad D?
It has been this way for 10 years...

cajunvike
09-30-2005, 06:12 PM
"6-KINGS" wrote:

Yeah but if take out the D stats of the first 2 games, we are #1 BABY!!

LOL!

Works for me!!! :grin:

ItalianStallion
09-30-2005, 06:13 PM
Guess what, it is week 3. This time last year I am pretty sure we had a top 5 defense, look how that turned out.

People are stupid.

Del Rio
09-30-2005, 06:23 PM
"ItalianStallion" wrote:

Guess what, it is week 3. This time last year I am pretty sure we had a top 5 defense, look how that turned out.

People are stupid.

We allowed an average of 329 yards per game through the first 3 games last year. That would put us at about 16th :grin:

Realistically though, after the common defensive teams:

Pittsburgh
Buffalo
Washington
Denver Tampa
Baltimore

Every one else is seperated by mere fractions.

ultravikingfan
09-30-2005, 06:57 PM
"ItalianStallion" wrote:

Guess what, it is week 3. This time last year I am pretty sure we had a top 5 defense, look how that turned out.

People are stupid.

Nice and to the point! :wink:

AlabamaViking
09-30-2005, 07:36 PM
I tell you what...our defense looks better than it has. The only reason our defense has been rated so low has been the lack of our offense to keep our defense off the field. No one can play tired and survive if your offense goes through 3 and outs all the time.
If we look at the injury list, let's look at who is on there and then evaluate your statements based on where they played before here. As you ponder, think about the amount of time they had to spend on the field. It just breeds injuries. The stats don't lie...the more time you spend on the field then the more chance of getting hurt. The guys hurting now on D came from teams that had offenseive woas and their bodies could not hold up under that kind of stress.
Now that we have our offense clicking again, maybe we can get those guys healthy again and back on the field after this BYE week coming up. I think that as time marches on this year we will see our defense ramp up the ratings list and really show some mettle in the next part of the season.
Utnil next time, I'll see you on the field!

Gene Ramsay
AKA - AlabamaViking and Norseman

ultravikingfan
09-30-2005, 07:57 PM
"snowinapril" wrote:

Honestly, a team may never be 100% healthy, for a whole season. I hope they don't keep making excuses.

We better not hear these comments in 3 weeks, injuries or not. It could become the D's scapegoat if they don't play well.

You never here tha Patriots make any excuses. There back-ups and back-ups to the back-ups just step up and play! They were really dinged last year and were missing some players.

I agree:

Injuries = bad excuse.

Del Rio
09-30-2005, 08:41 PM
"AlabamaViking" wrote:

I tell you what...our defense looks better than it has. The only reason our defense has been rated so low has been the lack of our offense to keep our defense off the field. No one can play tired and survive if your offense goes through 3 and outs all the time.
If we look at the injury list, let's look at who is on there and then evaluate your statements based on where they played before here. As you ponder, think about the amount of time they had to spend on the field. It just breeds injuries. The stats don't lie...the more time you spend on the field then the more chance of getting hurt. The guys hurting now on D came from teams that had offenseive woas and their bodies could not hold up under that kind of stress.
Now that we have our offense clicking again, maybe we can get those guys healthy again and back on the field after this BYE week coming up. I think that as time marches on this year we will see our defense ramp up the ratings list and really show some mettle in the next part of the season.
Utnil next time, I'll see you on the field!

Gene Ramsay
AKA - AlabamaViking and Norseman

When they are getting burned in the first quarter as bad as they did against the bengals, you can't possible chalk that up to fatigue.

snowinapril
09-30-2005, 08:45 PM
Cowart was saying that it was missed assignments by the SUBS, that is where my excuse philosophy comes into play.

Ultra is right, see comments above.

That excuse might fly if it is truly a learning curve thing but after the bye week, it ain't going to anymore. Subs better start playing.

Big C
09-30-2005, 09:10 PM
I think we had 2 good games on D and one really really bad game. That Bengals game probably pushes us back about 5 positions in ranking. Look at what the Bengals did to the really good Chicago Bears defense. I think we sorely missed Cowarts experience and leadership in the Bengals game. That is the only thing different between the the week 2 defense and week 1 and 3 defenses.

Our stats may not be great, but I don't think it reflects how well the defense has been playing. Say what you want, but we were beaten by two teams that are still 3-0.

snowinapril
09-30-2005, 09:20 PM
"Big C" wrote:


Our stats may not be great, but I don't think it reflects how well the defense has been playing. Say what you want, but we were beaten by two teams that are still 3-0.

Tru Dat!!!

canadian_vikes_fan
09-30-2005, 09:29 PM
"ultravikingfan" wrote:

"snowinapril" wrote:

Honestly, a team may never be 100% healthy, for a whole season. I hope they don't keep making excuses.

We better not hear these comments in 3 weeks, injuries or not. It could become the D's scapegoat if they don't play well.

You never here tha Patriots make any excuses. There back-ups and back-ups to the back-ups just step up and play! They were really dinged last year and were missing some players.

I agree:

Injuries = bad excuse.

Exactly. But why did the Patriots have such a good defence despite all those injuries? It wasn't because their backups were Pro-Bowlers, it was because they had excellent coaching. Something I don't think the Vikings have.

The last few years you heard Cotrell complaining about his personnel, but that's not the problem. Good coaches find a way to succeed with non-perfect players.

Mr. Purple
10-01-2005, 12:08 AM
I dont care what anyone says, week 1, our defense played good. Take away that 71 yard last minute run and then tell me what you think. The defense has thier feet swept out from beneath them against the bengals cuz tice and co where scurring people on and off the field. Once you go down big its hard to come back , especially on the road. Then against the saints...we held pro bowl WR joe horn to ONE catch for 11 yards? and we pretty much held duece to a sub par day , and your tellin me this defense is just as bad as last year? no no my friend...this defense has yet to begin!

whiteviking24
10-01-2005, 12:39 AM
"Del Rio" wrote:

"AlabamaViking" wrote:

I tell you what...our defense looks better than it has. The only reason our defense has been rated so low has been the lack of our offense to keep our defense off the field. No one can play tired and survive if your offense goes through 3 and outs all the time.
If we look at the injury list, let's look at who is on there and then evaluate your statements based on where they played before here. As you ponder, think about the amount of time they had to spend on the field. It just breeds injuries. The stats don't lie...the more time you spend on the field then the more chance of getting hurt. The guys hurting now on D came from teams that had offenseive woas and their bodies could not hold up under that kind of stress.
Now that we have our offense clicking again, maybe we can get those guys healthy again and back on the field after this BYE week coming up. I think that as time marches on this year we will see our defense ramp up the ratings list and really show some mettle in the next part of the season.
Utnil next time, I'll see you on the field!

Gene Ramsay
AKA - AlabamaViking and Norseman

When they are getting burned in the first quarter as bad as they did against the bengals, you can't possible chalk that up to fatigue.I agree with del on this one. They got burned on the second play of the game there

V4L
10-01-2005, 12:43 AM
I think alot of it has to do with fatigue.. Most of it has to do with everyone not playing together yet.. And also most of the yards are off big plays.. We would have held Caddy to 70 yards and like a 3 yard average.. Instead he gets 140 yards and 5 yards a carry out of a sudden.. And Chad Johnson didn't do all that much except the big 1st quarter catch.. Lack of pressure up front has alot to do with it as well

Prophet
10-01-2005, 12:44 AM
I think I've seen more 3 and outs this year already then the Vikes had last season.

lukeshkin
10-01-2005, 01:28 AM
this D can finish in the top 20 maybe top 10 they are definately improved from last year when healthy our top 3 corners are amongst the best in the league i would definately like to see less ralph brown man that guy gets toasted more than a marshmellow at a s'more convention our d line is solid and deep they will be scary in the next few years again i think our biggest weakness is the linebacking core, however i have seen improvement. newman is looking good and i think ej seems more comforatble when he doesnt have to call plays also i think LB scouting/coaching is a week point for this team. remember the vikes didnt like johnson,vilma or suggs.

2pacthadon
10-01-2005, 01:40 AM
the D is not the problem its the O line period. the Ds played great. with all those turnovers even the pats D or redskins D would be bottom 5 in the league. this years D is the best D the vikings have had since the purple people eaters. maybe even better cuz back in the 70s football was weak. evolution my brothers.

Rookie444
10-01-2005, 01:40 AM
if this defense plays they way they are paid, we should end up in the top 10. once sharper is 100% healthy again and smoot gets over his neck, groin, or whatever injury he has this weekend, we should be straight. there is no reason that chi or cin should have a better d than us.

AlabamaViking
10-01-2005, 03:13 AM
You can chalk it up to fatigue when you are playing a good offense like the Bengals have. They are fast and furious and we were busy chasing instead of playing our game.
That will make anyone fatigued.

Gene Ramsay
AKA AlabamaViking and Norseman

ItalianStallion
10-01-2005, 03:20 AM
"Del Rio" wrote:

"ItalianStallion" wrote:

Guess what, it is week 3. This time last year I am pretty sure we had a top 5 defense, look how that turned out.

People are stupid.

We allowed an average of 329 yards per game through the first 3 games last year. That would put us at about 16th :grin:

Realistically though, after the common defensive teams:

Pittsburgh
Buffalo
Washington
Denver Tampa
Baltimore

Every one else is seperated by mere fractions.

Sorry Del, I must have been thinking about two years ago, the iinterception-crazy year.

Prime Time 84
10-02-2005, 03:08 AM
We're in the bottom five now, but I think we'll get better as the season goes on. This team does have talent. Now we need to gel and scrounge up a few wins so we don't get too far behind.

NeoVikesTX
10-02-2005, 03:16 AM
The way I see it, let everyone think our defense is terrible, then slowly gain momentum as the season moves forward and suprise some people later in the year. It's better than starting the season strong defensively only to get manhandled on MNF (eg. Chiefs).