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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Vikings: 3-4 lineup looks like long-term solution

    Vikings: 3-4 lineup looks like long-term solution

    With experienced personnel and two games of success, players and coaches are eager to stick with the alignment.

    Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune
    Last update: October 27, 2005 at 9:04 PM

    The decision was easy. Earlier this month, Vikings coaches added up their total of healthy, experienced defensive ends. Then they counted their stable of healthy, experienced linebackers.

    The results? One defensive end and seven linebackers. Case closed.

    Far from a eureka moment, the Vikings' shift to a 3-4 defense was based entirely on necessity and intended purely as a short-term solution. Yet after consecutive encouraging performances, the Vikings might have stumbled into a more permanent solution to their long-term defensive woes -- one that offers more stability and apparently fosters fewer mental mistakes than their original 4-3.

    "A lot of the guys on this team have come here from 3-4 defenses," free safety Darren Sharper said, "and they're a lot more comfortable playing in it. They know what they're doing, and they enjoy it. We've had success with it. So we'll see what our coaching staff feels is best."

    Three members of defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell's stingy 3-4 defense in Buffalo -- nose tackle Pat Williams, outside linebacker Keith Newman and inside linebacker Sam Cowart -- form the core of the Vikings' new look.

    Producing results so far

    Williams has dominated both games he has played at nose tackle, amassing 12 tackles, including three behind the line of scrimmage. Newman and Cowart have supported a run defense that has limited opponents to a total of 140 rushing yards in two games.

    With Newman and fellow outside linebacker Raonall Smith funneling ball carriers inside to Cowart and E.J. Henderson, the Vikings held Chicago to 192 total offensive yards in a 28-3 loss; the Bears had two touchdown drives of less than 5 yards to help account for the point total. And while Green Bay roared to 254 yards in the first half Sunday, the Vikings gave up only 120 yards there- after in a 23-20 victory.

    The team's official depth chart still lists its defense in a 4-3 arrangement, but Vikings coaches and players appear eager to stay with the 3-4.

    "Guys are definitely excited about it," Cottrell said.

    Added Cowart: "I'm a big believer in it, and so far we're doing pretty well, I think."

    NFL observers have been discussing the possibility of a 3-4 ever since the Vikings made Williams their primary target in free agency, signing him to a three-year contract worth $13 million on the day the market opened. Cottrell had used it extensively during his tenure as Buffalo's coordinator from 1998-2000, and the Vikings' No. 28 overall ranking last season suggested no one was content with the status quo.

    Entering the season, the Vikings planned to use the 3-4 only as an occasional surprise look in obvious passing situations. They practiced it extensively in developmental camp and selected training camp sessions and then implemented it sparingly during the first four games of the season -- primarily to take advantage of Newman's pass-rushing skills.

    But after losing left end Kenechi Udeze for the season Oct. 5 because of a knee injury, the Vikings also found themselves without backup ends Spencer Johnson (knee) and Lance Johnstone (strained pectoral muscle) as they entered their Oct. 9 bye. Coaches were uncomfortable putting rookie end Erasmus James into the starting lineup, so they simply deleted one of their line positions, moving defensive tackle Kevin Williams to Udeze's left end position.

    "If Spencer was healthy," coach Mike Tice said, "do we make the same decision? I can't tell you that. . . . "

    Helping make things easy

    That move shifted the Vikings' defensive focus from their line to the linebackers, once considered the weak link of their rebuilt defense. But after players struggled to line up correctly in the 4-3 dating back to last season, Cowart said the new alignment offers less variables.

    "It's easier for linebackers," Cowart said. "The biggest thing is when you have teams that have all these motions and pre-snap scatters and all that. In the 3-4, you just sit. Things don't change for you. It mirrors on both sides because it's an even number of linebackers."

    With an extra linebacker and less pre-snap confusion, the defense has played faster on several levels. Cottrell credits Smith's speed as the outside linebacker for improving the defense --"He's able to turn some stuff inside," Cottrell said -- and Tice has noticed as well.

    "It works because the players we have out there," Tice said. "Even on plays where we're not [blitzing], we still have guys around the quarterback and in the backfield on runs. That's because this type of defense is a faster defense than a 4-3.

    "I feel it's the best way for our team to go."

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

  2. #2
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Vikings: 3-4 lineup looks like long-term solution

    This answers your questions Fuad Fan!

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

  3. #3
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    Re: Vikings: 3-4 lineup looks like long-term solution

    I like it. Who knew that our LB's would be succeeding and our DE would be in huge injury trouble.

  4. #4
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    Re: Vikings: 3-4 lineup looks like long-term solution

    Thank you Singersp
    Minnesota Vikings : Simply the best

  5. #5
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    Re: Vikings: 3-4 lineup looks like long-term solution

    "singersp" wrote:

    Far from a eureka moment, the Vikings' shift to a 3-4 defense was based entirely on necessity and intended purely as a short-term solution. Yet after consecutive encouraging performances, the Vikings might have stumbled into a more permanent solution to their long-term defensive woes -- one that offers more stability and apparently fosters fewer mental mistakes than their original 4-3.

    "A lot of the guys on this team have come here from 3-4 defenses," free safety Darren Sharper said, "and they're a lot more comfortable playing in it. They know what they're doing, and they enjoy it. We've had success with it. So we'll see what our coaching staff feels is best."

    Three members of defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell's stingy 3-4 defense in Buffalo -- nose tackle Pat Williams, outside linebacker Keith Newman and inside linebacker Sam Cowart -- form the core of the Vikings' new look.
    Coaches Stumbled, that sums up the Tice era.

    I like it. Hope we have even better success with it in the next few games.

    I wonder if this is why K-Will is stumbling in the stats category.

  6. #6
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    Re: Vikings: 3-4 lineup looks like long-term solution

    Well Pat does not play every down so who is it that plays the nose tackle when he is out is it K-Will or Scott. Maybe moving him to another position would help.
    Minnesota Vikings : Simply the best

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    Re: Vikings: 3-4 lineup looks like long-term solution

    From my perspective, Kevin Williams doesn't look like he is as quick as he was last year, he looks a little bigger I think. (Maybe he bulked up to play in the 3-4???...)

  8. #8
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    Re: Vikings: 3-4 lineup looks like long-term solution

    "DiehardVikesFan" wrote:
    From my perspective, Kevin Williams doesn't look like he is as quick as he was last year, he looks a little bigger I think. (Maybe he bulked up to play in the 3-4???...)
    No that happend because he had to have some surgery on his knee in the offseason so that prevented him from staying in shape if that has anything to do with it.
    Minnesota Vikings : Simply the best

  9. #9
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    Re: Vikings: 3-4 lineup looks like long-term solution

    kevin williams is not having that bad of a season, he is still penetrating almost every play, he is just not getting the sacks. they will come. i think (hope) he will continue to play better as the season progresses and he makes up for not being able to participate in off-season conditioning and most of training camp.

    The most important thing is he is still spending 85-90% of the plays in the opponents backfield.

  10. #10
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    Re: Vikings: 3-4 lineup looks like long-term solution

    Makes sense to me

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