Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Fortuitous Injury?

It’s official: Marcus Robinson is not going to play on Monday. That’s a big blow to a Vikings team that is going to need a decent passing game against the Patriots. Robinson had established himself as the Vikings go to guy and their main deep threat--something the Vikings offense has been lacking. They can’t afford for Brad Johnson to go into check down mode on Monday night because the best way to attack the Pats is through the air. Their passing defense is an average one, while their rushing defense is amongst the best in the NFL. Because of that, the Vikings offense will likely face a lot of third and long situations, and Johnson will be playing directly into the Patriots’ hands if he dumps it to the running back or tight end right away.

Those third and longs, however, might not be as problematic for the Vikings as it would seem. As usual, the Vikings are going to face a quality opponent at less then full strength. Richard Seymour is questionable for Monday night’s game and like Pat Williams for the Vikings; he is the key to their defense (when he was out last year, the Patriots had problems stopping the run). Luckily for the Vikings, he’s having elbow problems, and even if he does play, will likely be wearing a huge brace on his elbow. That could seriously hinder his effectiveness, because defensive tackles need their arms to control blockers. If his brace slows his hands down, Steve Hutchinson is going to be able to get into his body and control him, which means there will be a huge hole for Chester Taylor to get through.

If the Vikings are going to be successful on Monday night, they need to exploit the Patriots weaknesses. If Seymour is out, or can be neutralized, then the Vikings should continue pounding away with Chester Taylor. If they aren’t able to establish the run (and even if they do), then they are going to need Brad Johnson to throw the ball down field like he did against Seattle. If the loss of Marcus Robinson makes him regress to his pre bye conservatism, then the Vikings’ offense isn’t going to be on the field for very long, which could lead to disaster against a team that’s as good as running the ball as the Patriots are.

[I suggest you take the time and read the Boston Globe's article that I linked to. It does a good job of describing what a defensive tackle is supposed to do in order to be successful. If you can't get at it, here are some logins you can use]

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