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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Freezing up in the red zone

    [size=13pt]Freezing up in the red zone[/size]

    Fade passes to the end zone have faded into memory as the Vikings cling to a conservative approach when defenses stiffen up to seal off the goal line.

    Mark Craig, Star Tribune
    Last update: October 09, 2006 – 11:17 PM


    Perhaps it was all those years of watching a certain big receiver just go up and take whatever he wanted near the goal line that made us ask Vikings coach Brad Childress why he doesn't use Marcus Robinson, his most accomplished big receiver, inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
    You know, maybe throw the ball into the end zone every once in awhile to the 6-3, 215-pound guy with the long arms.

    "I think that's probably a myth," Childress said. "You kind of look for a spot to stick it in. It's hard to throw a ball up to a big body when people play two-deep [zone] on you down there, which is what we got every snap down there [Sunday against the Lions]."

    Childress went on to say that, like it or not, he doesn't "put round pegs in a square hole." He is content to take the field goal if defenses take away the end zone, which they are doing week after week.

    Going into the Monday night game between Baltimore and Denver, the Vikings were tied with the Broncos for 30th place in touchdown percentage in the red zone (25). The Vikings have scored three touchdowns in 12 trips to the red zone, and one of them was a fake field goal in which kicker Ryan Longwell threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Richard Owens.

    On a positive note, the Vikings have no turnovers in the red zone and have converted the field goal on the nine trips in which they didn't reach the end zone. And two of the field goals were game-winners: near the end of regulation at Washington and in overtime against Carolina.

    "The worst thing we can do down there is take the football and throw it into a Cover-2 and throw a pick," Childress said. "Then we would probably be asking how come you threw it to Marcus Robinson when he was double-covered?"

    Touché.

    But the Vikings have Brad Johnson, a 15-year veteran quarterback who: A) set the NFL record for most consecutive years of completing 60 percent of his passes (10); and B) holds the Vikings' career interception percentage mark of 2.6 (37 interceptions in 1,401 attempts).

    Can't we trust that he can throw a fade into the corner of the end zone to a big receiver without the ball being intercepted?

    The Vikings have run 30 plays inside the opponents' 20-yard line, not including four snaps negated by drive-killing penalties. Ten of them were passes, none of them fades into the end zone or balls intended for Robinson, who leads the team in touchdown catches with two.

    Of the 10 plays the Vikings ran in the red zone in Sunday's 26-17 victory over the Lions, Robinson was only on the field twice. As a blocker on running plays.

    "This offense is a little different," said Robinson, who has not once complained about his role. "In the past, the Minnesota Vikings put us out wide, we'd run and they would throw it up to the big guys.

    "[Sunday,] we had a different game plan. We knew they ran a lot of Cover-2 stuff, so we wanted to do some other things. It bothers me anytime I'm not the first option on a play, but I understand this offense and the way we do things now."

    The Vikings offense threw its first red-zone touchdown pass of the season when Johnson connected with Travis Taylor from 3 yards out. It was the only pass Johnson threw into the end zone all day.

    Childress said the team's red-zone woes don't concern him "more than anything else" heading into this week's bye.

    "I know that you guys [the media] lose a lot of sleep over it," Childress said. "I've got tons of things that I lose sleep over. The numbers are what they are, and we'll continue to work on it. I'm as concerned about anything is that we step backwards in terms of penalties down there. I think we have the wherewithal to be able to get ourselves down there. We need to be able to finish."

    The Vikings do have an amazing knack of self-destructing in the red zone. Right guard Artis Hicks was called for holding on first-and-goal at the 7 against Carolina. Then there was intentional grounding on Johnson on first-and-goal from the 10 later in that game, pass interference on Taylor on third-and-4 at the 18 against Buffalo and holding on Bryant McKinnie on second-and-9 at the 10 against Detroit.

    "We just need to correct some things down there," Robinson said. "It'll come. Every game plan is different. I haven't gotten any opportunities down there, but I'll get my chances."

    But, apparently, only if the defense gives it to him.


    Mark Craig • [email protected]


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

  2. #2
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    Re: Freezing up in the red zone

    Posted on Tue, Oct. 10, 2006

    [size=13pt]Red-zone woes still a hot topic[/size]

    BY DON SEEHOLZER
    Pioneer Press


    The Vikings entered their bye week with a 3-2 record and the NFL's seventh-ranked defense. But they are tied for 30th in red-zone offense at 25 percent, with only three touchdowns on 12 possessions inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

    But is coach Brad Childress worried?

    "It doesn't concern me any more than anything else," he said at his Monday news conference. "I know you guys missed a lot of sleep over it. I've got tons of things I lose sleep over. The numbers are what they are, and we'll continue to work on it. If I'm concerned about anything, it is that we took a step backwards in terms of penalties down there. I think we have the wherewithal to be able to get ourselves down there. We need to be able to finish."

    Brad Johnson hit wide receiver Travis Taylor for a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 26-17 victory over Detroit, but the Vikings came up short on two other drives that ended with Ryan Longwell field goals.

    Childress said that was because of a Lions pass defense that came in ranked 30th in the NFL but was determined not to allow the long ball after being burned for 10 touchdown passes in the previous three games.

    "Their whole mentality was they were not going to let you throw the ball over the top of their heads," he said. "It wasn't going to happen. They were going to make you bleed slowly, and you were going to have to take what's there. … To throw it deep for the sake of throwing it deep, you don't do that."

    Childress also said the solution to the red-zone problems isn't as simple as using 6-foot-3 wide receiver Marcus Robinson on some fade patterns near the goal line.

    "I think that's probably a myth," Childress said. "... Marcus Robinson, it's hard to throw a ball to a big body when people do play two-deep on you down there, which is what we got on every snap down there yesterday. We don't put round pegs in a square hole."

    Boo birds: Childress shrugged off Sunday's boos by the home crowd, saying they had no effect on him or his players.

    "It is what it is," he said. "They pay a lot of money to sit in those seats. They can do whatever they like to do. You live with it. It's not an energy sap or anything like that... . If I spent my time or (the players) spent their time reacting to the crowd, it wouldn't be much to look at."

    IOU: The defense scored two of the Vikings' three touchdowns — on a fumble recovery by linebacker Ben Leber and linebacker E.J. Henderson's 45-yard interception return — and right guard Artis Hicks was one of a number of offensive players who said they owe the defense one.

    "Like they say, offense sells tickets, but defense wins games," he said. "They've been coming through for us and showing up every week. The offense, we've just got to do our part, and we know that... . It's kind of a feeling that we're not pulling our end of the deal here, but it's a team sport and we'll get it right."

    Pep talk: After a sluggish first half, the offense came to life in the final two quarters, and some players credited a halftime talk by running backs coach Eric Bieniemy.

    "E.B.'s a passionate guy," Childress said. "He wears it right out there, and that's what you love about him. He's played the game before. He kind of knows what it takes, and he has a great tempo of the situation... . Football is a game of emotion, and I don't think it hurts for people to show it when they feel it."

    Henson on hold: With rookie Tarvaris Jackson healthy enough to serve as the third quarterback Sunday, Drew Henson's days with the Vikings could be numbered, but he said he hasn't been told anything about his future.

    "I'm just taking this thing week by week, and we'll kind of just see what happens," Henson said. "I haven't even thought about it or discussed it with anyone."

    After this morning's weight-training session, players are off until next Monday, and Henson said he planned to return to his home in Dallas to "get some more clothes and get some things in order."

    Name game: The Vikings are known for using a cover 2 defense, but Childress said they hadn't played a lot of it until Sunday.

    "I thought we took a step with our zone defense yesterday," he said. "There was some true Tampa 2, as you guys call it... . They played it well, and a lot of times a lot of those big plays come out of that, when people are able to sit back and watch the ball come out of the quarterback's hand."

    Don Seeholzer can be reached at [email protected]

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

  3. #3
    The Dropper's Avatar
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    Re: Freezing up in the red zone

    "singersp" wrote:
    [size=13pt]Freezing up in the red zone[/size]

    Fade passes to the end zone have faded into memory as the Vikings cling to a conservative approach when defenses stiffen up to seal off the goal line.
    Personally, I don't put any faith in the fade pass. Witness last week's Monday night game. McNair throws a fade pass to 6'5" Clarence Moore and it's intercepted by 6'0" Champ Bailey. OK, sure, it's Champ Bailey, but still, if a guy can intercept a jump ball over a guy that is almost a 1/2 foot taller, I just don't like those odds.
    I'm not happy about our red zone offense, of course; no one is. Still I don't think toss-ups to Marcus Robinson are the answer. Furthermore, I give both Brads more credit than to make bad decisions like that. Using the TE's or running one in are probably just as effective and a lot less risky. And all of this assumes that we can get over those penalties...

  4. #4
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    Re: Freezing up in the red zone

    Red Zone...what the heck is that?
    Is that the line we cross and then start to committ our penalties?
    LOL!

    I have a suggestion.
    How about we go out of bounds at the 21 (technically we will not be in the Red Zone) then takes endzone shots?

  5. #5
    ThaSuperFreak33 is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Re: Freezing up in the red zone

    I Like the idea of the 21 yardline toss up/fade.

  6. #6
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    Re: Freezing up in the red zone

    "ultravikingfan" wrote:
    Red Zone...what the heck is that?
    Is that the line we cross and then start to committ our penalties?
    LOL!

    I have a suggestion.
    How about we go out of bounds at the 21 (technically we will not be in the Red Zone) then takes endzone shots?
    If they would pass more in the redzone, our success rate just might improve.

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

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    Re: Freezing up in the red zone

    Posted on Thu, Oct. 19, 2006

    [size=13pt]Red zone struggles not a red flag for Vikings[/size]

    DAVE CAMPBELL
    Associated Press


    EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Two clear themes have emerged for Minnesota this season. The defense, now ranked fifth in the league in yards allowed, has been mostly dominant. The offense, despite some crisp-looking drives and a low turnover total, has scored only four touchdowns in five games.

    The latter trend, of course, is reason for concern. Coaches and players have acknowledged the obvious need to put more points on the scoreboard, but good luck getting them to admit they're overly worried about the red-zone offense.

    "I've got tons of things that I lose sleep over," coach Brad Childress said. "The numbers are what they are, and we'll continue to work on it."

    The Vikings have conceded concern about one issue - not play calling or a lack of players with proven records of reaching the end zone - but untimely penalties inside the 20-yard line.

    Those were down in the last game, a win over the Lions. After joking that coaches put the guilty guys in a head vise and "squeezed it one turn for every penalty" as a deterrent, Childress credited the improvement to an avoidance of the over-thinking that sometimes causes players to jump before the snap.

    So what about those touchdowns?

    Well, Marcus Robinson's height and jumping ability makes him an attractive target for end-zone throws, right? Though he's the only player with multiple scores, Robinson has just nine catches this year and hasn't been used much lately near the goal line.

    The reason? Opponents have played a lot of "cover two" pass coverage there, Childress said, which usually leaves a safety to double up with a cornerback on an outside receiver.

    "We don't put round pegs in a square hole," Childress said. "The worst thing we can do down there is take the football and throw it into a 'cover two' and throw a pick."

    ---

    PLUG YOUR EARS: Seattle's Qwest Field is one of the noisiest outdoor stadiums in the league. Opponents have complained about artificial sounds used there designed to amplify the crowd, as with the Metrodome in the past.

    The Vikings gained some valuable experience in the season opener at Washington, where the Redskins enjoy a similarly earsplitting environment. They used silent snap counts to avoid communication problems along the offensive line, and those worked well.

    Some teams will use music or other noise during practices for road games to simulate the sound of a hostile crowd, but that's not part of this week's plan.

    "We've done that before and most of the time it ends with coaches with a headache and players with a headache and bad vocal cords and the whole deal," Childress said.

    ---

    OVERHEARD: Childress, sarcastically shrugging off his team's lack of offensive touchdowns when answering an unrelated question about signing kicker Ryan Longwell: "I promised him that I'd put him in the Pro Bowl, because we wouldn't be very good in the red zone and we'd kick lots of field goals."

    ---

    QUICK HITS: After watching Washington's Clinton Portis and Carolina's Steve Smith sit out with injuries and knocking Detroit's Roy Williams out of the game, Minnesota will avoid another opposing offensive star this week. Seattle's Shaun Alexander, last year's league MVP, is out with a broken foot. ... Linebacker Ben Leber, who missed one game with a sprained knee, and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson were the only players left on the injury report. They're probable for Sunday. Childress hinted before the bye that Jackson had to learn how to better fight through injuries, but the coach said this week that the rookie's knee has "turned the corner." ... Running back Ciatrick Fason, bothered by a shoulder problem earlier in the season, is healthy but has fallen behind Artose Pinner - a strong special-teams contributor - on the depth chart. ... Maurice Mann, cut to make room on the active roster for receiver Bethel Johnson, has been added to the practice squad. ... The Vikings are 13-4 in games immediately after their bye week since the NFL started them in 1990. That's tied for the best record in the league with Dallas and Denver.

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

  8. #8
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    Re: Freezing up in the red zone

    On a side note, I bought some of that 'red zone' underarm deodorant and scored last night.
    Maybe we should order some for the team.
    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

  9. #9
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    Re: Freezing up in the red zone

    "Acumen" wrote:
    On a side note, I bought some of that 'red zone' underarm deodorant and scored last night.
    Maybe we should order some for the team.
    Good thing you weren't holding or in the grasp and muffed your opportunity to score! lol!
    What takes a quarterback to the next level is not arm strength or mobility or any of that stuff. Its the ability to play on critical downs. Manage third downs, or red zones or four-minute or two-minute situations"
    Dilfer

  10. #10
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    Re: Freezing up in the red zone

    Eden Prairie, Minnesota: Minnesota vikings football practice was delayed yesterday for two hours.

    One of the players, while on his way to the locker room, happened to look down and notice a suspicious-looking, unknown white powdery substance on the practice field. Head Coach Brad Childress immediately suspended practice while the FBI was called in to investigate. After a field analysis, the FBI determined that the white substance unknown to the players was the goal line.

    Practice was resumed when FBI Special Agents decided that the team would not be likely to encounter the substance again.

    an old anthrax joke, but it seems to apply to our head coach and team.

    you hate to take a chance at the end zone when the defense doesn't want you to go there.



    give me a freakin' break. show some stones.
    Why must you defend everything this FO does....to the point of making your self look like a yes man.

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