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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Why Vikings coach considers offense & defense lines priority

    [size=18px]Line play common trait in title games[/size]

    A comparison of the NFL's four conference finalists explains why Vikings coach Brad Childress considers the offensive and defensive lines his first priority.

    Mark Craig, Star Tribune
    Last update: January 19, 2006 – 11:40 PM


    Faced with the possibility of losing three starting offensive linemen to free agency last offseason, the Seattle Seahawks responded the way one would expect a championship-caliber team to respond:
    They coughed up the dough.

    They also re-signed the line's top backup and, for good measure, used their first-round draft pick on Mississippi center Chris Spencer, who they knew wouldn't even start this season.

    "Without those guys up front, and without some continuity, you don't have much of an offense," coach Mike Holmgren said. "You really don't."

    Meanwhile, in Denver, Mike Shanahan, the Broncos coach and vice president of football operations, decided his team's No. 1 priority was a quick fix up front on defense. So he took a chance on former Browns defensive linemen Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, Michael Myers and Ebenezer Ekuban.

    Shanahan traded a fourth-round pick for Warren, the third overall draft pick in 2001. Then he used Reuben Droughns, a 1,200-yard rusher, to fetch Myers and Ekuban. Brown, the first overall pick in the 2000 draft, was signed after being released by the Browns.

    Today, Brown, Warren and Myers are starters on a defense that ranked No. 2 against the run this season.

    It's no coincidence Seattle and Denver are still in action as Sunday's conference championship games approach. Like the other conference finalists, Pittsburgh and Carolina, the coaches and personnel executives involved give more than lip service to the old NFL adage about building from the front back.

    "Whoever controls that line of scrimmage wins the championship ... period," Panthers defensive lineman Brentson Buckner said. "When you get this far, you aren't going to fool anybody. You aren't going to trick anybody. You are going to line up and whoever controls the line of scrimmage will win the game."

    Vikings coach Brad Childress subscribes to that theory. It's why he mentioned line play as his No. 1 priority early in his introductory press conference on Jan. 6.

    Childress would do well to duplicate the four conference finalists. Each is in the top five in run defense. And all but Carolina are in the top five in rushing.

    "In the playoffs, it's all about the lines," Panthers Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers said. "You have to run and protect the quarterback, or you have to stop the run and get after the quarterback. So it's crucial that your team has those two areas solidified."

    As Holmgren noted, continuity is a key to success, especially on the offensive line. Of the 20 starting offensive linemen still in the playoffs, 19 have started every game at their current positions this season, according to recent game press releases from each team.

    Compare that to the Vikings, who had only one offensive lineman, left tackle Bryant McKinnie, start every game this season. The center, right guard and right tackle positions had two different starters, while left guard had three. Rookie Marcus Johnson had starts at both right guard and right tackle.

    "[Line play] is big all the time," Steelers guard Alan Faneca said. "But definitely you have to be able to establish somewhat of a running game and protect your quarterback at this time of year to give them an opportunity to make plays."

    Steady line play leads to consistency. When Pittsburgh plays at Denver on Sunday, it will be the Steelers' third AFC title game in five years. When Carolina plays at Seattle later in the day, it will be the Panthers' second NFC title game in three years.

    "If you look at Seattle, look at the left side of that offensive line," Buckner said. "Walter Jones at left tackle and [Steve] Hutchinson [at left guard]. It's the best side in football, bar none."

    Jones and Hutchinson both made the Pro Bowl. Jones was a first-round draft pick in 1997. Hutchinson was a first-rounder in 2001. (By the way, the quarterback they protect, Matt Hasselbeck, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1998.)

    Of the 20 offensive linemen expected to start Sunday, 12 were drafted no lower than the third round, including Pittsburgh's entire starting unit. The Steelers have three starters who were first-round picks: Faneca and right guard Kendall Simmons by them and center Jeff Hartings by Detroit.

    "[Selecting offensive linemen] high in the draft is not always the sexy pick," Holmgren said. "But it's very, very important, and I think that's one of our keys this season."

    Staff writer Jeff Shelman contributed to this report.

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

  2. #2
    NordicNed is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Why Vikings coach considers offense & defense lines priority

    I still say, our biggest concern is to lose Rosenthal, and replace him with some real talent...

    That would be a big plus and a nice place to start.....


    I LOVE THE SMELL OF VICTORY IN THE MORNING AIR.

  3. #3
    Prophet Guest

    Re: Why Vikings coach considers offense & defense lines priority

    It always seemed rather obvious that it starts at the lines. Is this considered a revolutionary idea?

  4. #4
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Why Vikings coach considers offense & defense lines priority

    "Prophet" wrote:
    It always seemed rather obvious that it starts at the lines. Is this considered a revolutionary idea?
    Not to us, but to some it is.

    I've always said a QB is only as good as his line permits.

    A mediocre QB can look great with a great line, while a great QB will look mediocre with a poor one.

    You don't have to be Fellini to figure out that a great D-Line that can stop the rush & get pressure on the QB, will set the tone for a great defense.

    I.E. The Purple People Eaters.

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

  5. #5
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: Why Vikings coach considers offense & defense lines prio

    The line is the heart of the game, in it's infancy football was only a line and a rb lol.

    You control the line, you control the game.

    That is why I don't get too excited about any one person. They may suck it up here but be great somewhere else or vice versa.

    Because the line relationship with the team isn't black and white. Everysingle player effects the line as well. Do your linebackers make corrections? Do your safties read the gaps well, do they read the line?

    Does your running back make it easy or hard for you? So in one breath you want to say it starts at the line, and in another all it could take is one player OUTSIDE of the line to change the dynamic of your team.

    It's too easy to say the line sucks. Or to say we need to replace so and so. The real answer is probably much more complicated. Holdings and False starts are dicipline issues. That falls on coaching. Also why does a guy false start? It isn't because of lapse of concentration it is because he is trying to over compensate for being outmatched. He wants to be the first guy off the line, because if you are the first off the ball you will win.

    You need to pick up on that as a coach and address that. The NFL doesn't work that way though. The NFL is NOW NOW NOW and they try to mix and match players and try to throw more talent in a system that is broken.

    That in a nutshell is why there are very few good teams anymore. The teams that are good are well coached and have had some stability. The good teams RARELY make the headlines for picking up ~SUPERSTAR #999~ They pick up role players. They pick up players that can be coached that can effect their ENTIRE team in a possitive way.

    Good coaches can make average players great. The teams that take the time to do that in the NFL succeed the ones that would rather save the time of actually teaching and try to get the biggest names for the fattest contracts MAKE IT NOWHERE. Yet every year its the same story.

  6. #6
    Prophet Guest

    Re: Why Vikings coach considers offense & defense lines priority

    There is such a mix of signing big names to keep the fans happy so tickets can be sold and trying to actually build a winning team that it all gets confusing.

    The Patriots are the latest example of a team that did exactly what you are referring to Del. They didn't have a lot of famous folks on their squad and played through an amazing amount of injuries (I'm too lazy to look them up, but I remember there were a bunch). Look at a few of their SB runs and they had many key injuries to folks but they held together.

    Effective Coaching. It is something that the Vikings have lacked for some time. I sure hope the new coaching staff can get the job done. I am optimistic. Not because I think Childress or any of the new hires are prodigies, but because at least they have potential and are saying the right things for the most part. The change is good.

  7. #7
    Del Rio Guest

    Re: Why Vikings coach considers offense & defense lines priority

    "Prophet" wrote:
    There is such a mix of signing big names to keep the fans happy so tickets can be sold and trying to actually build a winning team that it all gets confusing.

    The Patriots are the latest example of a team that did exactly what you are referring to Del. They didn't have a lot of famous folks on their squad and played through an amazing amount of injuries (I'm too lazy to look them up, but I remember there were a bunch). Look at a few of their SB runs and they had many key injuries to folks but they held together.

    Effective Coaching. It is something that the Vikings have lacked for some time. I sure hope the new coaching staff can get the job done. I am optimistic. Not because I think Childress or any of the new hires are prodigies, but because at least they have potential and are saying the right things for the most part. The change is good.
    No doubt Prophet.
    It sounds like this guy will do a good job for us. I like the cords he has brought in and I think we will be a better team for it.

    I will also be surprised if you see a lot of change on the line. I feel they are talented and fairly deep. I think you will see an improved line, with very few if any new faces.

    When they say it starts up front I imagine they will focus on the linework, and go from there. A better coached and informed line. He may just be planning on spending more time with the line.

    Anyway you cut it, you can always point your finger at Red. It always comes back to his wanting something for nothing. Our biggest pickup for this season? Wilf.

  8. #8
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    Re: Why Vikings coach considers offense & defense lines priority

    I could see us keeping alot of the guys too.. Birk coming back is huge.. We could us a RT but I think Johnson might be a beast next year..

    If Ton Fon could get in shape he could be great on our line..

    I would love to see us get Huchinson or Bentley however I don't think it will happen..

  9. #9
    Prophet Guest

    Re: Why Vikings coach considers offense & defense lines priority

    "Del Rio" wrote:
    ...Our biggest pickup for this season? Wilf.
    Yes. His reasons for wanting a winning team are different than mine but I could care less. If he is driven to success and has a carrot dangling in front of him that serves the purpose, more power to him. I just hope the carrot is always just out of reach and during his tenure with the Vikes he continues to pump more money into the organization trying to catch that carrot. Keep pumping money into the coaching staff and re-build the winning tradition.

    It appears to me that Wilf demands excellence and that is what the team has been missing. Demand excellence, if the personnel is not striving toward that goal make them walk the plank. There are plenty of hungry players and coaches around that will fill the shoes of any slacker(s).

    One of the happiest sports days of my life was when Redneck got the hell out of Minnesota. I feel the same way toward Zygi as I do toward Childress and the rest of the Vikings squad. The Vikings organization is bigger than any individual. Bring the hungry owners, coaches, and players to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and demand excellence. It appears to me, at this juncture of the offseason, that the Vikings organization took the correct turn in the fork of the road.

  10. #10
    DaunteHOF is offline Coach
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    Re: Why Vikings coach considers offense & defense lines priority

    Always gotta start with the OFF and DEF lines, thats the blueprint of championship teams.
    Its not braggin if you can do it!!!

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