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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Defensive backs are more than secondary

    [size=18px]Defensive backs are more than secondary[/size]

    It's no coincidence that the Vikings' six-game winning streak started when the defensive backs started trusting each other and began making big plays. The on-the-field success of the Vikings' secondary during the team's six-game winning streak is partially due to plenty of in-the-classroom work.

    Judd Zulgad, Star Tribune
    Last update: December 16, 2005 at 5:18 PM


    As the Vikings defensive coaches vacate the Winter Park meetings rooms each Wednesday, a group of defensive backs and linebackers remains glued to their chairs.

    Their workday is not quite complete.

    For the next hour, these two position groups remain, brainstorming, critiquing and evaluating film. Good-natured ribbing takes place. Cornerback Ralph Brown works the clicker, while several players add thoughts. Confessed film junkie Corey Chavous often takes charge. The sessions are part learning experience, part camaraderie builder.

    And an invaluable use of time.

    "That's the biggest part of our game, especially as a defense -- the fact that we do study together," safety Darren Sharper said. "We were struggling early on, we decided as a team we were going to start looking at film with one another, and that has kind of been our turnaround."

    Frustrated and looking for answers to save a season that was on the brink of falling apart, a group of veterans decided to implement the additional film study after the Vikings' 38-13 loss at Carolina on Oct. 30. At the same time, coach Mike Tice moved coverage coordinator Chuck Knox Jr. from the coaches' booth to the sidelines so he could be directly involved with the defensive backs. None of the ideas could hurt. The Vikings were 2-5, coverages were breaking down and they had only six interceptions.

    Since then time, the Vikings have intercepted 17 passes and take a six game-winning streak into today's game against Pittsburgh.

    Slowly building chemistry

    Players say early-season secondary struggles came because each player felt they had to do everything. Sharper and cornerback Fred Smoot were new to the system, and that didn't help.

    "We just weren't playing sound defense," cornerback Antoine Winfield said. "Guys were just doing too much, not being disciplined, not doing their job. Trying to go out there and create the turnovers, being selfish, put it like that. But as of late, we understand that if we play team defense, and when you get an opportunity to make plays, just make them."

    Added Brown: "We knew that we should have been doing it from the beginning. No one was just doing it. Finally, I guess the last straw came about and everyone just listened and started respecting each other and doing their job."

    In last week's 27-13 victory over St. Louis, the Vikings intercepted a season-high five passes. Cornerback Brian Williams, who moved into Smoot's starting spot when Smoot missed four games because of injury, had two. Winfield, Sharper and Smoot, who returned as the nickelback, contributed one apiece.

    That gave Sharper eight interceptions, seven during the winning streak. The veteran's total is one short of his career high and is tied with Denver cornerback Champ Bailey for second in the NFL. Cincinnati cornerback Deltha O'Neal has nine.

    The Vikings' 23 interceptions are second in the NFL to the Bengals' 27 and are more than they have had in nine of the past 10 seasons. An effective pass rush also has played a big role in setting them up, because quarterbacks don't have time to get comfortable in the pocket and survey the field.

    But in order to get the picks, Chavous, Sharper, Winfield, Williams and Smoot also must rely on their veteran savvy and each other to put themselves in a spot to make the play. This is where film study becomes so important. Sharper calls it another practice rep.

    "You get a lot" from it, Winfield said. "The biggest thing, especially for a corner, is to know where your help is. Like say a guy runs an out on me. Will I be allowed to jump that out? If I know I've got my safety over the top, I can jump it, but if I can't I have to play soft and give him that out. Little things like that are getting us in position to make the plays that we're making."

    And it's not just the veterans who benefit. Rookie cornerback Dovonte Edwards, whose interception return for a touchdown in the Nov. 21 victory at Green Bay proved instrumental, has received plenty of valuable instruction that otherwise might not have occurred.


    "You get a different feel because some of the time we're pressed for time, and the coaches might fly through some things," he said. "We have a lot of veterans in the secondary, so they might not spend as much time on certain things. When they run the film, you get to see what you're looking at from a players' perspective. That definitely helps a ton."

    Different perspective

    Edwards also admits that watching film with only teammates present is different than when coaches are in the room.

    "The coaches might run something else back whereas the players might pick up on something else being that we are players and we are the ones that are on the field," he said. "Some of our coaches, like Chuck Knox, he knows a lot about football and has a ton of knowledge about it, but he's never played in the NFL. It just helps to get a different perspective, a different look from a players' perspective."

    Knox declined an interview request for this story, but Tice does credit him with making a difference.

    "Chuck has a style that is a cerebral teaching style," he said. "He is not a big yeller. He is a very smart young coach. He has pulled them all together and has them all playing on the same page. At the same time, they are all seeing stuff and they are believing what they see and they are jumping stuff."

    That includes jumping on the opportunity to get on one another's case on frequent occasions, whether it be on the field, in the film room or the locker room.

    To Chavous, this is as important as anything.

    "I think the fact that we just jaw on each other so much and go off on each other and talk about each other," he said. "It motivates each other to go out there to continue to make plays. Ain't nobody around here going to get a big head. I don't care how good of a week you had.

    "Around here, we've got short memories, we're forgetting about last week and you're only as good as your last play in our secondary. That's kind of the motto that we're going to continue to say throughout the season. We don't even care about the success we have, we're only trying to build on it."

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

  2. #2
    LuckyVike's Avatar
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    Re: Defensive backs are more than secondary

    Nice read.

    I have a question for ya though singer. How is it that you always find these articles I've never seen and don't see on the news sites I go to (espn.com, cbssportsline.com, foxsports.com, nfl.com)?
    The best part of my day is when I get down on my knees, with my head in my hands, and thank GOD for everything he has given me.

  3. #3
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Defensive backs are more than secondary

    "LuckyVike" wrote:
    Nice read.

    I have a question for ya though singer. How is it that you always find these articles I've never seen and don't see on the news sites I go to (espn.com, cbssportsline.com, foxsports.com, nfl.com)?
    Purple Magic!

    Actually, it's because it isn't on those sites that I find them.

    I can't divulge my secrets! :razz:

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

  4. #4
    LuckyVike's Avatar
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    Re: Defensive backs are more than secondary

    "singersp" wrote:
    "LuckyVike" wrote:
    Nice read.

    I have a question for ya though singer. How is it that you always find these articles I've never seen and don't see on the news sites I go to (espn.com, cbssportsline.com, foxsports.com, nfl.com)?
    Purple Magic!

    Actually, it's because it isn't on those sites that I find them.

    I can't divulge all my secrets!
    I'll accept that. A good magician never shares his secrets.
    The best part of my day is when I get down on my knees, with my head in my hands, and thank GOD for everything he has given me.

  5. #5
    Wiggles67's Avatar
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    Re: Defensive backs are more than secondary

    "Around here, we've got short memories, we're forgetting about last week and you're only as good as your last play in our secondary. That's kind of the motto that we're going to continue to say throughout the season. We don't even care about the success we have, we're only trying to build on it."
    I absolutely love this from Chavous seeing how they have that mentality on the field really makes me believe that they will continue you get better. They like playing with each other and they are building that confidence that has been missing from our defense for years.

    "I choose my company by the beating of their hearts, not the swelling of their heads"

  6. #6
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    Re: Defensive backs are more than secondary

    Another great job, Singersp. One of the main reasons I have been on, and remain on this site is cause you have guys have access to information, articles and DUH! No brainers that I just don't in Utah.

    Like when I couldn't figure out why everyone hated Red. Seriously. You can stop laughing now. In Utah, Red is a zillion miles away, and without the information ya'll provide, I wouldn't have clue one.

    I still like it when Caine calls him by name though. I miss that.

  7. #7
    gregair13's Avatar
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    Re: Defensive backs are more than secondary

    singer is magic.

    yes our secondary has really pull it together. everyone on defense has.
    We're bringing purple back.

  8. #8
    NordicNed is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Defensive backs are more than secondary

    Thanks Singer,

    Your post are my mournings news paper, Coffee and SingerSP posts, what a way to start the day......

    Thanks Man


    I LOVE THE SMELL OF VICTORY IN THE MORNING AIR.

  9. #9
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    Re: Defensive backs are more than secondary

    VERY GOOD ARTICLE. good research... This is soo true. It is no coincidense!

  10. #10
    ultravikingfan's Avatar
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    Re: Defensive backs are more than secondary

    Singer has magic fingers!

    :shock:

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