Pass defense still a concern for Minnesota

By Krupka  |   Sunday, September 16, 2007  |  Comments( 10 )

Minnesota Vikings
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The word is out. To beat the Minnesota Vikings, you have to throw the football. Every down.

It shouldn't be a shock to anyone. The New England Patriots showed everyone last year how vulnerable the Minnesota defense is against a wide-open passing attack, and it appears the Vikings will have similar trouble defending the pass in 2007.

On Sunday, the Detroit Lions did their best impression of the Patriots, leaving the rushing attack out of the game plan and moving the ball at will through the air against Minnesota's defense. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz opted to go to the air on his team's first nine offensive plays, and on 18 of the first 21 plays. For the game the Lions called 64 pass plays to just 16 runs.

Quarterback Jon Kitna opened up the game with four- and five-receiver sets, shotgun formations and spread the Vikings out. Detroit drove right down the field until Vikings safety Darren Sharper intercepted a pass in the end zone.

However, Martz & Co. would stick with the aerial assault all day. Even after Kitna left with an apparent concussion in the second quarter, career journeyman J.T. O'Sullivan moved the ball fairly easily via the pass.

Kitna returned late in the fourth quarter. If Kitna had not missed half the game, the Lions likely would have won in regulation.

O'Sullivan threw two interceptions and fumbled when defensive tackle Kevin Williams burst through the line and sacked him. DE Ray Edwards scooped up the ball and ran 9 yards for the score.

Lions quarterbacks combined for 393 yards and two touchdowns through the air.

Minnesota's propensity to force turnovers and score defensively kept the team in the game, and they the Vikings actually had a chance to win in regulation. Just seconds after Lions kicker Jason Hanson missed a 48-yard field goal, Vikings K Ryan Longwell had a chance to win the game from 52 yards. However, the attempt hit the left upright, and the contest went to overtime.

The Viking defense did force five turnovers and returned one for the aforementioned score, the unit's NFL-leading 11th touchdown since 2005. Still, it has become painfully obvious that the pass defense needs to be addressed.

Even in the Vikings' 24-3 win last week, the Atlanta Falcons had their best success through the air. The deep outs and 7- to 10-yard routes underneath were open all afternoon. Fortunately, Atlanta's offense is guided by Joey Harrington and isn't very good.

While the defense is hardly the reason Minnesota lost Sunday (that can be chalked up to the poor play of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and the entire offense's failure to protect the ball or move it consistently), its scheme against the pass needs to be addressed.

Until then, teams with solid passing attacks will give the Vikings fits. And at this point, it spells trouble because the Minnesota offense will have difficulty outscoring anyone.

Eric Krupka can be contacted at ekrupka@realfootball365.com

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CommentsComments: 10  |  Sign Up  View all comments
No.1
michael
11:13 AM
09/17/2007
I agree, it certainly appears that everyone's game plan to beat the Vikes is going to obviously be pass, pass and pass some more....
No.2
Alex
12:46 PM
09/17/2007
WRONG WRONG WRONG. The WC defensive system the Vikes use is designed to be fluid. Other teams can put up all kinds of passing...
No.3
NY Viking
01:17 PM
09/17/2007
Everything was bad in this game for the Vikings. 12(?) penalites for over 100 yards, 4 INT's, acres of passing yardage given up,...
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