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Thread: Front Four

  1. #1
    Prophet Guest

    Front Four

    Front Four
    Vikings Notebook,
    Author: Mike Wobschall,
    6 September 2006

    Typically, team's that control tempo and control the line of scrimmage win games in the NFL. Because of this, it is important to have depth and skilled players on the defensive line. The Vikings have both and it will benefit them during the 2006 season.

    Currently, Minnesota has eight defensive linemen on the roster, including rookie Ray Edwards. The fourth-round selection in last April's draft has impressed coaches with his talent and production during training camp and the preseason. Edwards, a 6-5, 268-pound rock-solid athlete has demonstrated to coaches a strong desire to improve and a propensity to apply pressure to the quarterback.

    Kenechi Udeze returns this season after missing most of last season with an injury. Udeze was a dominant player in college with Southern Cal. and he had a solid rookie season with the Vikings in 2004, tallying 36 tackles and five sacks. Because Udeze returns as the starter at defensive end, three-year veteran Darrion Scott, last season's starter, will come in off the bench and provide quality relief when either Udeze or Erasmus James need a breather.

    The tandem of Kevin and Pat Williams should prove to one of the most formidable in the league, with quality backups in Spencer Johnson and Ross Kolodziej filling in when needed. Kolodziej started 14 of 16 games last season for Arizona and tallied 24 tackles and three sacks. Johnson averaged nearly three tackles per contest in 2005, recording 29 tackles in 10 games. You may see Johnson enter the game for Pat Williams on obvious passing downs, and Kolodziej can fill in at either tackle position.

    With the Vikings implementing the Tampa Two defensive scheme, defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin has placed an emphasis on the defensive front providing pressure on the quarterback while the linebackers and defensive backs drop into coverage. With a talented starting four and a more-than-adequate corps of backups, the Vikings figure to be applying pressure late in games when opposing offensive lines are just too worn down to stop them.

    CB shuffle

    The Vikings nickel back position is once again open to competition with the loss of Dovonte Edwards. Rookie Cedric Griffin appears to be third on the depth chart, a spot usually reserved for the nickel back. However, in nickel situations, the Vikings will likely use Griffin on the outside and place veteran Antoine Winfield in the slot. In doing this, the Vikings can utilize Winfield's blitzing and tackling ability, as he is one of the league's best at both skills.

    NFL may toughen up

    The NFL and its players' union are discussing beefing up its testing program for performance-enhancing drugs, with the changes possibly taking effect this season. More testing and increasing the number of banned substances could be among the changes being discussed.

    The NFL conducts approximately 10,000 tests for performance-enhancing drugs a year and there are about 2,000 players in the league. Players are randomly selected for testing and can be tested during the offseason.

    The NFL announced in June that it added amphetamines to the list of banned performance-enhancers starting this season.

    Amphetamines were previously listed as a "substance-abuse drug," but are now in the same category as steroids and other enhancers that carry much stronger penalties. This season will serve as a transition year, where a first positive test would bring a warning and put a player into the drug program.

    Information from was used in this report

    Joppru's persistence pays off

    Minnesota native and Michigan product Bennie Joppru has made the Houston Texans 53-man roster and will play in his first NFL regular-season game on Sept. 10. Joppru, drafted in 2003 by the Texans, has spent his first three seasons on the injured reserve list. His first two seasons in the league were cut short due to a sports hernia injury and his third season ended during minicamps when he tore his ACL. Joppru, a three-year starter at Minnetonka High School and All-American and captain at Michigan, will suit up for Houston when the Philadelphia Eagles visit Reliant Stadium.

    Injury report

    Both Mewelde Moore (knee) and Fred Smoot (ribs) are listed as questionable on the team's injury report for Monday's contest against the Redskins.

    Washington running back Clinton Portis (shoulder) is listed as questionable and defensive back Shawn Springs (abdomen) is listed as doubtful. Defensive end Renaldo Wynn (ankle) is listed as probable.

    Steve Smith, the NFL's top receiver last season, is listed as questionable for the Sept. 10 season-opener against Atlanta. According to wire reports, Smith, who missed 17 days of training camp with a strained left hamstring, is now experiencing pain in his right hamstring.

    E-mail Mike at

  2. #2

    Re: Front Four

    thats exactly right, with the depth we have at the position i can see our line getting pressure on the qb with only using the front four for an entire game (as long as johnson and co. do their job and give them a breather)

    "We’ll win our own Super Bowl, with our own players. Real Vikings. Something Brett Favre can never be."

    - Dan Calabrese

  3. #3

    Re: Front Four

    I think we should call them the Fantastic Four or the Vike-tastic Four!!!

  4. Re: Front Four

    thats right....THE FEARSOME FOURSOME have been reborn

  5. #5

    Re: Front Four

    Posted on Sun, Sep. 10, 2006

    [size=13pt]A fine line[/size]

    The Vikings' front four should be able to rattle quarterbacks and smother running backs, and that should make the rest of the defense better.

    Pioneer Press

    Before every practice, as his players stretch, Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin offers his defensive linemen a recurring message.

    "I walk over and I say, 'It starts up front.' And I mean that," Tomlin said. "We (the defense) eat together. But it starts up front. Football games are won and lost in the trenches. They understand that, and they understand the responsibility of being a front four in this scheme, and they wear it like a badge of honor.

    "They have to."

    As he implements the Tampa 2 defense made famous by his previous NFL employer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tomlin has emphasized the need to play fast and hard, a point his defensive linemen have taken to heart. During the exhibition season, the unit wreaked havoc on usually stoic veteran quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe and Steve McNair, and it had similar success in stifling running backs.

    Even the Vikings' Pro Bowl safety praises the heightened importance of the defensive line.

    "It truly does start up front," Darren Sharper said. "You think about it, those guys control how the game is going to go, as far as the run and getting to the passer. A lot of times, those defensive linemen make our day good or bad. Any interception I get or plays we make on the back end, it's always a direct reflection of how our defensive line is playing."

    The Tampa 2 places a premium on athleticism at nearly every defensive position. The two safeties usually split the deep zone in half, while the cornerbacks and linebackers are responsible for different sectors of the field. This essentially leaves the defensive linemen to apply pressure on the quarterback and plug the running lanes, a daunting double duty that few teams have the personnel to effectively run.

    The Vikings could be one of the rare teams.

    The questions at linebacker aren't as persistent with the emergence of E.J. Henderson and the steady play of Napoleon Harris and Ben Leber. And the questions at defensive end have been eased with strong preseason play from Kenechi Udeze, Erasmus James, Darrion Scott and even rookie Ray Edwards.

    "It's the best D-line I've been around in a while," Sharper said. "It's similar to the D-line I had in Green Bay my first couple of years, minus a guy like Reggie White. But overall, as far as depth and ability, it's just as good as the D-line I had in Green Bay."

    That's a lofty compliment because the Packers went to the Super Bowl in Sharper's rookie season.

    Former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Bill Maas said the defensive line is what makes the Vikings special.

    "If you want to look to something to get excited about with the Vikings, then look at the defensive line," said Maas, an analyst for Fox Sports. "On paper, yeah, it's a great defense, a dominating defense. But 'on paper' doesn't win games."

    More specifically, Maas said the Vikings' interior linemen are the key.

    "I may be a little biased," said Maas, a former defensive tackle. "But I like their defensive tackles, especially in this era of football. With all the three-step passes today, it's tough to get to the quarterback from the outside. The best formula to do it is right up the middle."

    Maas said Pat Williams and Kevin Williams are strong enough to "bull their way" past interior offensive linemen.

    Surprisingly, Kevin Williams didn't register a single statistic in the exhibition season. But Maas watched film of him, and he marveled at the young defensive tackle's ability to dominate.

    A knee injury slowed him early last year, and Williams said he didn't feel healthy and get into a groove until December. He shrugged off the strong exhibition season play of his unit, saying, "It don't count."

    "It looks good," he said, "but we got to do it on Sept. 11. We're chomping at the bit to get after people. We'll talk about how good a rhythm we're in when we're knocking people out and doing it 10 weeks into the season."

    The line's success hinges largely on the success of Udeze and James, who acknowledge that the double-teams their defensive tackles command take the pressure off them.

    "We want to see who gets there (to the quarterback) first," James said.

    During the exhibition season, each had one sack, and James had four quarterback hurries to Udeze's one.

    "They have the potential to be great. But potential is a dangerous word," Tomlin said. "They have to be a tandem, and a tandem to be reckoned with."

    As he hopes to rebound after missing 13 games last year with a season-ending knee injury, Udeze appreciates any positive feedback bestowed upon him or his unit, and he relishes the daily encouragement from Tomlin.

    "Any time someone puts so much faith in you, you want to live up to it and do what we got to do," Udeze said. "Nobody can mess with us. We're defensive linemen. We're different. We're the toughest. We're the most-agile, best-looking group on the team. And with that said, we've got to make sure everyone knows that on a daily basis. So we just have to put it out there like that every day."

    Sean Jensen can be reached at

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Hartford, WI

    Re: Front Four

    Just imagine if our starting four stays healthy and together! Wow, they could be just great!!

    I get the most pissed off looks from people with my VKG 4 LFE Wisconsin license plate, and I LOVE IT!!

  7. #7

    Re: Front Four


    Of everything that's the Vikings have been doing the past 2 years as far as personel goes, I'm most excited about their front 4.
    This defense eats together, as Tomlin says.
    And he also says it starts with the trench guys.
    Meaning, those guys have to eat up the RB's and QB's of opposing teams.

    If that's the case..
    We have the Purple People Eaters v2.0.

    1 more day!!!!!!!!
    Vegans are eating the rainforests. =(

  8. #8

    Re: Front Four

    "Formo" wrote:

    If that's the case..
    We have the Purple People Eaters v2.0.
    Purple People Eaters (XL) 64bit --- (eXtRa LaRgE)!!!

    i am reallllly gonna enjoy it when our D causes fear in O cordinaters..

    it's gonna be tuff for qb's to get the time needed to find a weakness..
    i say.. pocket protection to last 3 - 5 seconds.. 5th second being the one they take that.. ahh !#$%! never saw that guy comin!!


    "We tried to stick with it, but there was a point where we were beating our head against a wall," Seattle Coach Mora talking about running at the Williams Wall

  9. Re: Front Four

    It is going to be real exciting watching those front 4 play this year as appose to the last several years.
    I think they are finally all matured enough (big pat excluded) to be more consistant on every play.
    Also with the aggressiveness of the new defencive scheme, I anticipate more sacks and hurried throws.
    Plus there is not a huge dropoff when the backup enter.

    Hope to be wiggling in my chair alot watching these guys play...
    What we got here is a failure to communicate.

  10. #10
    Prophet Guest

    Re: Front Four

    Hutchinson talks about the line
    Sunday, September 10th, 2006

    The Vikings’ run game struggled during the preseason in part because the offensive line had its problems. But left guard Steve Hutchinson feels things are coming together on the rebuilt line.

    “We’re starting to see things on the defense the same way and that’s the first step,” he said. “When you can say, ‘Oh, I think they are going to do this,’ and then you can pass that communication down the line. When you’re thinking on the same page that’s a good sign.”

    The Vikings’ line includes two new starters in Hutchinson and right guard Artis Hicks. Center Matt Birk is returning after missing last season and right tackle Marcus Johnson is in only his second season. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who just signed a seven-year, $48.5 million contract extension, is the only player on the line who started all of last season.

    As for the Vikings’ preseason problems in the run game, Hutchinson cautioned not to read too much into that.

    “You play a half [as a unit in the preseason], you’re just starting to figure out how the guy is playing you and you’re only running certain plays that you want to improve on during training camp,” Hutchinson said. “You’re only picking a handful of the run [plays in the playbook]. So the defenses are giving you looks that you really aren’t prepared for. For people to come out and and expect you’re going to run the ball 300 yards a game in the preseason, that’s a pipedream. It’s not going to happen. … Of course you want to run the ball for better than 2-point something yards per carry. But we built on that and we’re getting better.”

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