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  1. #1
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    Patrick Reusse: Vikings desperately need effective 'D'

    [size=10pt]Patrick Reusse: Vikings desperately need effective 'D'[/size]

    http://www.startribune.com/508/story/637043.html

    The Vikings were rated 13th in defense during the 1998 season. When combined with the highest-scoring offense in NFL history, this was worth a 15-1 regular season that put the fire back in a Vikings fandom that had stopped selling out the Metrodome a year earlier.
    Coach Dennis Green thought what his defense needed was a pass-rushing end, so he used his second first-rounder in 1999 to select Dimitrius Underwood from Michigan State. This could be viewed as the start of the Vikings' defensive slump, since Underwood lasted through one morning session when he was pushed around a Mankato practice field by right tackle Korey Stringer.

    The Vikings defensive ranking fell to 27th that season and it was a panic time. Over the next six drafts, from 2000 through 2005, the Vikings had 20 selections in the first three rounds and 14 were defensive players.

    There was no positive impact from these highly rated defenders. The Vikings followed that 27th in 1999 with defensive rankings of 28, 27, 26, 23, 28 and 21.

    The result of this defensive ineptitude was two changes in head coaches.

    The task now has fallen to Brad Childress, a coach with his expertise in offense but with a need to fix the defense if he intends to be a success.

    There has been no shortage of resources used to make possible such a fix. The starting defense that the Vikings used against Baltimore for Friday night's third exhibition included the following:

    • A line with three No. 1 draft choices -- Kenechi Udeze, Kevin Williams and Erasmus James -- and a well-compensated free agent in Pat Williams.

    • A secondary with cornerbacks Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot, who were the recipients of large free-agent contracts, and safeties Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith, also veteran free agents with respectable contracts.

    • The linebackers were a second-round draft choice (E.J. Henderson), an Oakland first-rounder (Napoleon Harris) and the first defensive free agent signed by the Childress regime (Ben Leber).

    Bottom line: There has been plenty of money and plenty of draft-room wisdom invested in the defensive group that opened for the home team on Friday, and there was increasing evidence that the Vikings finally might have gotten it right.

    There was pressure from the line, and tight coverage from the secondary, and there were hits from the linebackers.

    The number ones played the first half for both teams, and the Vikings defense against the Ravens offense was a complete mismatch.

    Some of the credit for this would have to go to Steve McNair, the quarterback who was considered washed-up in Tennessee, only to wind up with division rival Baltimore billed as a savior.

    Ravens coach Brian Billick was able to perform magic with Randall Cunningham, another veteran quarterback thought to be over the hill, as the Vikings offensive coordinator in 1998.

    It's not going to happen again, Coach Billick. You don't have Randy Moss and Cris Carter, you don't have a tremendous offensive line, and Cunningham still had his legs under him when he was arcing those passes down the sidelines.

    McNair showed no mobility to step out of trouble and make a throw. The one time he took off it was more a stumble than the determined sprint the quarterback once featured with the Titans.

    The Vikings held the Ravens scoreless and to a paltry 86 yards in the first half. There were sacks from Udeze and Pat Williams, and consistent pressure from James, even though he was going against Jonathan Ogden, Baltimore's future Hall of Famer at left tackle.

    Finally, Smoot read a McNair throw to the sideline, stepped in front of Mark Clayton, wrestled the ball free and went 69 yards for a touchdown. As he reached the 20, Smoot put a hand to his helmet, asking for noise.

    The excited roar soon turned to "Smooot" -- an elongated chant not heard in the Dome since Lew Ford's last infield hit.

    McNair was impressed enough to give this quote to a Ravens P.R. person: "You have to give Minnesota credit. They have a good defensive line and three great linebackers."

    Great might be a stretch, but the streak of defenses ranked in the 20s appears over -- as it must be, with Childress' revolutionary West Crawl offense.


    Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. • [email protected]



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    Re: Patrick Reusse: Vikings desperately need effective 'D'

    [size=10pt]Vikings' defense flexes its muscle[/size]
    First-team unit impresses in half of action

    http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/sports/football/15366731.htm

    BY SEAN JENSEN
    Pioneer Press
    The Vikings haven't fared well in defensive struggles the past few years.

    The offense's productivity dictated the Vikings' success — or lack thereof.

    But opposite one of the NFL's top defenses for a second consecutive week Friday night, the Vikings again stated their case that their days of woebegone defense might be over. Behind a brilliant performance from the defensive line, the Vikings' defense set the tempo in a 30-7 exhibition win over the Baltimore Ravens at the Metrodome in front of 63,257.

    After quarterback Brad Johnson led the offense on two field-goal drives to open the game, with Ryan Longwell connecting on only one of two, the Vikings' defense stifled the Ravens' starting offense and allowed just 12 net yards in the first quarter.

    The Vikings' defensive line recorded two first-half sacks, but it applied consistent pressure on new Ravens quarterback Steve McNair. Each starter got after McNair at different points, with Kenechi Udeze and Pat Williams tallying the two sacks. The lack of time seemingly got to McNair, who, with rookie Ray Edwards fast approaching from the right edge, forced a pass to receiver Mark Clayton with about five minutes left in the first half. Vikings cornerback Fred Smoot stepped in front of the pass and glided 69 yards into the end zone for a touchdown that gave the Vikings a 10-0 lead.

    "They had us out of sync early," Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Fassel said at halftime. "Their front seven did a good job. But we had mistake after mistake after mistake. We lost our composure a little."

    For the half, the Ravens' starting offense, minus running back Jamal Lewis, managed just 20 rushing yards on 10 carries, and McNair completed 13 of 17 passes for just 80 yards. The Ravens were 2 of 7 (29 percent) on third-down conversions.

    The second half, however, was more of the same, as the Vikings' backup defenders intercepted another pass and forced and recovered two fumbles. With about 90 seconds left, Edwards sacked third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre and defensive end Khreem Smith scooped the ball and ran 29 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.

    "Just a miserable performance," said Ravens coach Brian Billick, a former Vikings offensive coordinator. "Miserable performance. It is unfortunate to play that way, which is going to require us to do some things this next week that you would not like to do in the last week of a preseason game."

    The Vikings' offense also gave Billick minor fits, embracing a challenge from their coach, Brad Childress, to start faster.

    On the opening drive of the game, against the Ravens' stalwart defense, Johnson completed his first two passes for 32 yards, including an impressive hook-up with receiver Troy Williamson. After catching a short pass along the sideline, Williamson ducked under Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle, who ripped off the receiver's helmet. Undeterred, Williamson continued up the sideline until all-pro linebacker Ray Lewis maximized his angle and chased the receiver down after an 18-yard gain.

    The Vikings' run offense, though, continued to have trouble, with Chester Taylor gaining just 8 yards on three carries on the first drive. The Vikings settled for a 45-yard field goal from Longwell to take a 3-0 lead.

    On its next possession, the offense again moved the ball, without much help from Taylor, who gained 11 yards on five carries. But Johnson was sharp again, completing 4 of 6 passes for 32 yards. But at the end of that drive, Longwell missed a 40-yard field goal wide right.

    Johnson finished the first half 9 of 15 for 95 yards, while Taylor gained 27 yards on 10 carries.

    As if their reach wasn't enough, the Vikings' defense even pressured their own offense.

    "Anytime you play a good defensive team, you're always wondering what's going to happen if you get off the field," Vikings fullback Tony Richardson said. "But not only was our defense stopping them, the defense was getting turnovers and scoring touchdowns. As an offensive player, you're thinking, 'Man, we got to pick it up.' "

    In the second half, the Ravens finally got on the board late in the third quarter, courtesy of third-year pro Clarence Moore. The 6-foot-6 receiver used his sizable advantage to snare two passes for 60 yards, including a 44-yarder on the sideline.

    After a nifty, one-handed catch from Moore along the sideline for 16 yards, Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller ran 1 yard into the end zone for a touchdown.

    Nevertheless, the Vikings' reserve defenders came up with several plays. Linebacker Heath Farwell forced a fumble, which cornerback Ronyell Whitaker recovered. Whitaker also jumped into the end zone and tapped out a Chris Kluwe punt to pin the Ravens inside their own 5-yard line.

    Following the game, Childress said his players raised the level of expectations early in a game.

    "When you set a standard like they did coming out of the locker room like they did tonight, you really can't accept anything less than that,' Childress said. "That's what I anticipate us doing every time we come out of the locker room, and I believe they expect that of themselves."

    Sean Jensen can be reached at [email protected]


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    Re: Patrick Reusse: Vikings desperately need effective 'D'

    i think for us to go anywhere this season, the defense needs to be top 10
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    Re: Patrick Reusse: Vikings desperately need effective 'D'


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

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    Re: Patrick Reusse: Vikings desperately need effective 'D'

    from what i've seen so far, our D it's depth and their energy places them def in the top 5!!

    DiGiTaL


    "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

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    Re: Patrick Reusse: Vikings desperately need effective 'D'

    "digital420" wrote:
    from what i've seen so far, our D it's depth and their energy places them def in the top 5!!

    DiGiTaL

    top 5 is pushing it. there are a lot of teams who should have great defensive units.
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    Re: Patrick Reusse: Vikings desperately need effective 'D'

    I would be happy with a top 10 defense and I do not think that is pushing it to think it will not happen

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    Re: Patrick Reusse: Vikings desperately need effective 'D'

    So why did Reusse have to give his article such a NEGATIVE title???

    What a jerk!
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    Re: Patrick Reusse: Vikings desperately need effective 'D'

    Our D will be in top 15 atleast. Would be nice if we made the top 5, you never know we might but not likely.

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    Re: Patrick Reusse: Vikings desperately need effective 'D'

    "cajunvike" wrote:
    So why did Reusse have to give his article such a NEGATIVE title???

    What a jerk!
    Who actually chooses the title though? Here's the same exact article in a different paper, with a different title;

    [size=12pt]This just may work[/size]

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

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