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  1. #1
    COJOMAY is offline Jersey Retired
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    Poor Running Game not unnoticed by coaching staff

    This article appeared in the Star/Trib. Seems like Moore is still the "go-to-guy" for Tice but we'll see if that's still true after the game against the Chargers this week.

    Here's a copy of the Tribune article:

    While not a reason for panic -- this was only the second game of the preseason -- the Vikings' lack of success running the ball against the Jets didn't go unnoticed at Winter Park.

    In this post-Randy Moss era, the run and pass are supposed to share equal billing. But a 2.6 yards-per-carry average on Friday, not to mention the 1.8-yard average from top running back Michael Bennett, didn't cut it, no matter how meaningless the game.

    Bennett remains atop the depth chart -- coach Mike Tice made that clear -- but the running game will have a different look tonight as Mewelde Moore starts against San Diego at the Metrodome. Bennett suffered a sprained neck against New York and isn't expected to play.

    Moore has been impressive in training camp and leads the Vikings with 86 yards on 11 carries in the first two preseason games.

    "Mewelde did a phenomenal job for us last year," running backs coach Dean Dalton said. "When he was called upon, he stepped in there and had three fantastic starts.

    "He had a confidence last year as a rookie, and this year it's even more so. His game is beginning to become complete."

    Moore stepped into a starting role for three games early in 2004 and rushed for 339 yards, including 138 against Tennessee. But the coaching staff grew frustrated when he missed five games because of a sprained ankle. Equally troublesome were Moore's struggles with blocking.

    This summer, Moore's ankle is fine, and Dalton calls his blocking "dramatically improved."

    "Every year I just continue to try to work at getting better and improving every aspect of my game," Moore said. "Taking the game to a level to where it totally slows down, and you play the game literally like you're walking in the park. I know what that feels like, and I want to be able to get there. I want to be able to achieve that optimum play and then continue to stay consistent over a long period of time."

    In the short term, the Vikings are just hoping to get closer to their preseason-opening performance against Kansas City, when they averaged 5.2 yards rushing.

    "We're out of sync a little bit," offensive coordinator Steve Loney said. "It's one of those deals like the hole is there and the back didn't run it right, or the back runs it right and we're not blocking it clean."

    The five penalties against the Vikings on run plays against the Jets didn't help.

    "We need to get a rhythm in our run game to increase the tempo for our offense," Dalton said. "Our offense, when we've got a tempo going, we're pretty high octane because we can keep a nice balance of run and pass."

    The offensive line, already missing starting center Matt Birk, also has undergone a shuffle. Chris Liwienski has been moved back to left guard, his position the past two seasons, and Marcus Johnson is starting at right guard.

    Liwienski opened camp at right guard with Adam Goldberg on the left. Johnson showed enough playing in place of the injured Liwienski during the Jets game that Tice decided to leave the rookie alone.

    These adjustments are only part of the solution. Tice also placed a heavy emphasis on the run, and the importance of proper timing in it, during practices this week.

    "That's the reason I ran an 18-play run period to start practice [Tuesday night in a scrimmage]," he said. "Those things can only be worked out by doing them in pads. You can't work out running game timing issues in shorts; it just can't happen."

    Bennett is still considered the featured back but was unable to be on the field this week. He has gained only 19 yards on 12 carries in two preseason games and lost a fumble against the Jets. But Dalton, for one, isn't concerned.

    "Michael had an excellent camp," he said. "He hasn't had any big, explosive runs or things, but he's doing a lot of little things that we've asked him to do. Throughout training camp he ran the ball well. It didn't happen in the first quarter of the first two games for him, but we're confident of getting him back healthy and getting him back in sync."

    In the meantime, Moore will try to make the most of his opportunity.

    "When the coaches give you the call to go ahead, then you just go out there and make the best of it," he said. "I just want to stay focused."
    Kentucky Vikes Fan

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  2. #2
    bitterbruce is offline Waterboy
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    Unoticed by some at least

    I was listening to Tice on WCCO the other day and he sounded downright peaved that "the media was trying to create a controversy". He said there just wasn't any controversy and that Bennett IS the starting RB. He was unwavering. I think it is ironic that the team can trade the most dynamic WR in Viking history but a RB that has had one good year is untouchable. I don't criticize Tice for supporting Bennett but to not even consider the possibility that Moore is a better back is just not making sense to me.

    If Bennett continues to struggle and Moore shines then it needs to be looked at. I suspect that Moore will not do much better against San Diego than Bennett has done. San Diego was within 8 total yds. of having the best run defense in the NFL last year.

  3. #3
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    Re: Poor Running Game not unnoticed by coaching staff

    I agree with you fully on this whole Tice Bennett love fest. It scares me that we have a coach who seems to be playing favorites rather than putting the best guys on the field, I'm sure the players arn't blind to this. I just hope no more distractions come up before the season starts.

    MeMo may not have a jaw dropping perfomance tonight against the chargers, but he will average 3+ yards a carry and he will break tackles, which is more than can be said for Bennett.

  4. #4
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    Re: Poor Running Game not unnoticed by coaching staff

    We need O Smith back..
    300

    The rigors of Spartan life. Leonidas is cast out into the wild, and survives the harsh winter to return to his home, when he is crowned King ....a Viking!

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  5. #5
    whackthepack is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Unoticed by some at least

    "bitterbruce" wrote:
    I was listening to Tice on WCCO the other day and he sounded downright peaved that "the media was trying to create a controversy". He said there just wasn't any controversy and that Bennett IS the starting RB. He was unwavering. I think it is ironic that the team can trade the most dynamic WR in Viking history but a RB that has had one good year is untouchable. I don't criticize Tice for supporting Bennett but to not even consider the possibility that Moore is a better back is just not making sense to me.

    If Bennett continues to struggle and Moore shines then it needs to be looked at. I suspect that Moore will not do much better against San Diego than Bennett has done. San Diego was within 8 total yds. of having the best run defense in the NFL last year.
    I do not understand Tice's infatuation with with Bennett! If he was doing great in the preseason then great let's of with him but he has sucked in both games!

    Give Melwelde the rock and let's see what he can do!

    Any word on Fiason and when he will be back!
    What we've got here is failure to communicate.

  6. #6
    BigEasyViking's Avatar
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    Re: Poor Running Game not unnoticed by coaching staff

    I have always been a big backer of Tice. I think that he does a really good job, but if Moore does more than 1.2 yards per carry and Tice doesn't even think of giving him the starting spot I will really start to question his credability. I understand his thinking that Bennett is a first round pick and has more speed than nearly any other back in the league, but if he can't produce on the field we need to put someone in that can. Bennett just simply hasn't produced and is always getting hurt. I really hope that Moore breaks about 100 yds and three TD's tonight. Maybee then he will gain the attention of Tice?
    God Bless America, & the MINNESOTA VIKINGS!!!

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