Re: Big Days V. the Panthers
In other words, we should expect our secondary to get a lot of 33 yard interception returns today. Works for me.
Re: Big Days V. the Panthers
From the Pioneer Press,
Posted on Sun, Oct. 30, 2005
SEAN JENSEN'S SCOUTING REPORT
The Vikings lead the all-time series against the Carolina Panthers three games to two. But the Vikings will play a regular-season game in Charlotte for the first time today, where the Panthers are 5-2 over their past seven games. While the Panthers are 4-2 overall, they have played in relatively tight games the entire season. Their two losses were each by a field goal, and they won their four games by a combined 18 points.
Both teams are struggling to run the ball effectively, and their quarterbacks have been prone to errors. So today's winner could be the team that commits fewer turnovers.
Quarterbacks:Carolina's Jake Delhomme is considered a poor man's Brett Favre, with a knack for making big plays Ã¢â‚¬â€ and big errors. For instance, he threw three interceptions in the Panthers' most recent game, including two that were returned for touchdowns. But Delhomme also has the ability to make difficult plays and engineer comebacks. Daunte Culpepper led the Vikings to a great comeback last Sunday. But he has just one touchdown pass against nine interceptions on the road this season, which means he has much to prove today. Edge: Panthers
Running backs: Three-time Pro Bowl running back Stephen Davis is second in the NFC with seven rushing touchdowns. But Davis has averaged just 3.1 yards a carry, and the Panthers have not gained 100 rushing yards since Week 2. In addition, backup DeShaun Foster is questionable with a knee injury. Mewelde Moore's rushing totals have been modest the past two games. But he has been a terrific receiver out of the backfield, with 175 receiving yards the past three games. Michael Bennett gave the team a lift off the bench last Sunday against the Packers. Edge: Vikings
Wide receivers: Carolina's Steve Smith, right, is 5 feet 9, 185 pounds, but he is one of the most feared receivers in the NFL. He leads the league with seven receiving touchdowns, and he is fifth in catches (39) and sixth in yardage (596). The Panthers have struggled to get consistent production from anyone else. Ricky Proehl is next among receivers with just 10 catches. Minnesota's Nate Burleson had only three catches for 37 yards, but he caught a clutch 10-yard pass on third-and-long in the fourth quarter. Marcus Robinson made the key catch of the game, a 27-yard touchdown pass. Edge: Vikings
Tight ends: Carolina veteran Kris Mangum is a solid and versatile tight end. He can play tight end, H-back and fullback in the Panthers' offense, and he finished last season with career bests in catches (34), yards (323) and touchdowns (three). He has solid hands, but his mobility is limited. Minnesota's Jermaine Wiggins is third among NFL tight ends with 32 catches, but he has yet to reach the end zone. Jim Klein-sasser has nine catches for 82 yards. Edge: Vikings
Offensive line: Former Packer Mike Wahle was one of the Panthers' top offseason acquisitions, as they aggressively tried to improve their interior offensive line play. Wahle remains a dominant force, as he was with the Packers. But the Panthers are encouraged by the play of right tackle Jordan Gross, who has not given up a sack this season. Minnesota's Bryant McKinnIe continues his excellent play, while right guard Adam Goldberg has brought some steadiness to this unit. Even though he'll get help, right tackle Mike Rosenthal will need to play well today to limit Julius Peppers. Edge: Panthers
Defensive line: Carolina's Julius Peppers is widely considered one of the elite athletes in the NFL. A former basketball player at North Carolina, Peppers was named to his first Pro Bowl team last season after collecting 11 sacks. But he has a cast on his right hand, and that will limit his effectiveness. His unit also includes Mike Rucker, who has 34.5 sacks in the past four seasons. Despite his father's illness, Minnesota's Pat Williams is dominating opponents right now, and he is creating opportunities for his linemates. After six games, all-pro defensive tackle Kevin Williams has just one sack. Edge: Panthers
Linebackers: Carolina's Pro Bowl middle linebacker Dan Morgan is a remarkable athlete who finished last season with 109 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks and one forced fumble in 12 games. But the oft-injured Morgan is hurt again, this time nursing a left shoulder injury that will force him to wear a harness the rest of the season. Minnesota's Sam Cowart and E.J. Henderson combined for 11 tackles against Green Bay as they shored up the middle of the field. Edge: Panthers
Secondary: Carolina free safety Mike Minter has the franchise records for tackles, forced fumbles and interception returns for touchdowns. But the ninth-year veteran is off to a slow start this season, with just 19 tackles and one forced fumble. The Panthers' pass defense is ranked 27th in the NFL, and starting cornerbacks Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas have struggled at times. The Vikings' Fred Smoot was a key in limiting Donald Driver last week against the Packers and he'll need a similar performance against Steve Smith for the Vikings to win. Safety Darren Sharper is regaining his confidence after missing two games with a knee injury. Edge: Vikings
Carolina's ever reliable John Kasay continues to play well in his 15th NFL season. Kasay has made all five of his field goals inside of 50 yards, and he has made 3 of 6 from 50 or beyond. Jason Baker is one of the league's lowest-rated punters. Steve Smith is a dangerous punt returner who cannot be given room or time to make plays. After a shaky game in Chicago, Paul Edinger made a 56-yarder to beat the Packers last Sunday. Overall, the Vikings had their finest special teams performance in years, as Koren Robinson also provided a 72-yard kickoff return. Edge: Vikings
John Fox is respected for his steady leadership, as he showed last season after an injury-riddled 1-7 start. The team responded under him, winning seven consecutive games and creeping back into playoff contention. He also led the team to a surprise appearance in Super Bowl XXXVIII, where the Panthers lost on a last-second field goal to the New England Patriots.
Mike Tice obviously still has his team playing hard behind him, as they came back from a 17-0 halftime deficit last Sunday. Now, Tice needs to convince his Vikings they can win on the road. Edge: Panthers
PREDICTION: VIKINGS 27, PANTHERS 24
My prediction Vikings 24-21
Re: Big Days V. the Panthers
Re: Big Days V. the Panthers
From Bob Lurtzema's Vikings Update;
Limiting Smith Key to Stopping Panthers
Steve Smith By Tim Yotter
Date: Oct 29, 2005
The Vikings can talk all they want about stopping the running game, but if they arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t able to at least limit Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith it will be a long day for the secondary.
The VikingsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ defensive mantra since the end of last season has been to stop the opponents rushing attack.
During the offseason, the front office was very conscious to improve up the middle of the defense. In that regard, they were successful. They obtained large and in charge nose tackle Pat Williams, middle linebacker Sam Cowart and safety Darren Sharper.
The results havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t shown in the rankings, but after a miserable start the Vikings are beginning to make progress. While their rushing defense still ranks only 30th in the league, they have held their last two opponents, Green Bay and Chicago, to a combined 140 yards rushing.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The No. 1 (thing), no matter who youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re playing, is stop the run and run the ball,Ã¢â‚¬? Cowart said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you do those two things, then youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to have a chance to win the ballgame.Ã¢â‚¬?
Sunday, the Vikings have to focus on CarolinaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster. Davis is the NFCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leading scorer for rushing touchdowns, but the fact is the Panthers rank only 24th in rushing offense.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The defenses are committing some people to stopping (the run),Ã¢â‚¬? Panthers head coach John Fox said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not one of those areas where you can put blame on one thing Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the backs, the tight ends, the fullback or the offensive line. If you run every play like itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s diagrammed in the playbook, it will be a touchdown. The reality is the other team practices, too. It only takes one error technically or assignment-wise or them committing an extra guy to the run box (to stop a run). ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not just one area.Ã¢â‚¬?
While the Vikings may be focused on limiting Davis and the PanthersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 3.1-yard rushing average Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which is average at best Ã¢â‚¬â€œ CarolinaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest threat is wide receiver Steve Smith.
In assessing CarolinaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offense, the presence of Smith was the first thing out of SharperÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mouth.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know that they have an excellent receiver in Steve Smith, who is playing at a Pro Bowl level at this point,Ã¢â‚¬? Sharper said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know they have a strong offensive line, especially with one of the guys IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve played with in the last few years, Mike Wahle. I know they have some strength and they can run the football, but with how our defensive line is playing, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know if anyone can run the ball on us too much, so weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to really concentrate on slowing down their passing game.Ã¢â‚¬?
That starts with Smith, who accounts for 48 percent of the Carolina offense, according to Vikings coach Mike Tice Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Ã¢â‚¬Å“you remember the Randy Ratio; it is similar,Ã¢â‚¬? Tice said, referring to his first-year proclamation that Moss should account for 40 percent of the Vikings offense.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“(Smith) is an excellent punt returner. He is definitely a priority for our football team,Ã¢â‚¬? Tice said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hopefully they will close their eyes at night and they will see number 89.Ã¢â‚¬?
Smith can create nightmares for defensive backs.
He is sixth in receiving yards and fifth in the NFL with 39 receptions, and his 15.3-yard average per catch is best among the top five in receptions. He is clearly the leading recipient in the PanthersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 15th-ranking passing attack Ã¢â‚¬â€œ garnering nearly four times as many receptions as the next wide receiver on the team. And he knows how to score touchdown, having seven through six games.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Both of our corners can match up with him (Smith), but weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll have to see how the game plan works and what weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to do,Ã¢â‚¬? Sharper said.
With Smith being such a dominating presence in the PanthersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ receiving corps, look for Fred Smoot to once again shadow him, just as he did Donald Driver in the second half of the Green Bay game.
After letting Driver slalom through the Vikings defense in the first half, when he had 101 receiving yards, the Vikings altered their defensive strategy in the second half and put Smoot on Driver exclusively, with safety help. The result? Despite RB Ahman Green and WR Robert Ferguson lost for the game, Driver had only 13 yards receiving in the second half.
SmootÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s assignment on Smith is likely the most important one for the Minnesota defense on Sunday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If we can go to Carolina and knock these guys off, it should really be a boost to us and hopefully get us kick-started for the second half of the season,Ã¢â‚¬? Sharper said.
Stopping Smith is best way to do that.
Re: Big Days V. the Panthers
i can smell smoot shutting down steve smith now..