It has almost been four weeks since the last time the Packers faced their rivals to the west, but it seems like yesterday. Maybe that is because the Vikings have more drama than a movie marathon on Lifetime. There are still many storylines going into this game that we decided to turn to our friends at The Vikings Age for another round of Q&A. Jon Merkle helps us breakdown Sunday’s game.
1) In the last meeting the Vikings had problems getting pressure on Rodgers, have any changes been made to differ that outcome on Sunday?
The Vikings defensive line has had problems all year getting after the QB. Jared Allen has gone from “Rugged Jared” who wore a nice mullet,speared elk from a tree, did a nice calf roping dance once or twice a game and basically played every down as if he had something to prove to “Enjoy the Ride Jared” who cut his mullet, got married and even promotes his cookbook. Now he has admirably cleaned his life up over the past several years, but we Vikings fans really miss the old Jared. Kevin Williams also appears to have lost a step. Pat Williams is also washed up and Ray Edwards has never been much more than above average.
With regards to the game this weekend, it’s important for the front four of our “Cover 2” defense to get after Aaron Rodgers early and hit him often. So much of this year we have been playing from behind, forcing our defense to move more into prevent and not pressuring the QB.
2) How much of factor do you expect Sidney Rice will have in his season debut?
Assuming Sidney does suit up this weekend (as of writing this, we haven’t had confirmation yet), the expectations are tamed. When fully healthy last year, he didn’t explode performance wise until week 6 versus Baltimore and many are expecting Sidney to spend the rest of the season regaining his Pro Bowl form assuming he does play. Rice even admitted recently that he’s just not as fast, not as quick or don’t have that explosion that he had last year. If he can go out and get 5 receptions for 65 yards and a TD that would surpass expectations.
3) The Vikings had trouble again when they got in the red zone last week against Chicago. What do you think has been the reason for their struggles in this area this season?
Again, this goes back to Sidney Rice’s absence. As we all know Sidney is a big, athletic WR who can jump out of the building from his basketball days. He’s an ideal red-zone target for any QB throwing to him and that especially applied to Brett Favre having an MVP-like season last year. Also, Sidney on the field meant that Visanthe Shiancoe would be single teamed (sometimes even uncovered with Adrian Peterson drawing 8 in the box). Take Sidney away, Visanthe is often double-teamed with guys like Bernard Berrian and Greg Camarillo not nearly drawing the attention. We also love Percy Harvin, but he’s not a red zone target.
Adrian getting stuffed on two key 4th and goals against both the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots came back to bite us at the end of those games, however he’s on pace for his 4th straight double digit rushing TD season. Those kind of running backs don’t grow on trees.
4) For Packer fans who don’t follow the Vikings too closely, who is one player that might be flying under the radar and could have an impact on Sunday’s game?
When you look at a season containing Sidney Rice’s delayed hip surgery, Percy Harvin’s migraines, Brett Favre skipping camp again, Jenn Sterger, Randy Moss’s short stay, the locker room supposedly turning against Brad Childress and a measly 3-6 record… Linebacker Chad Greenway hasn’t gotten his fair share of positive attention. Greenway is 2nd in the NFL with 92 tackles (only New England’s Jerod Mayo has more) with the next highest Viking, EJ Henderson, having 64.
Greenway normally plays on the strong side. He can cover most tight ends and running backs in pass coverage, plus has a good feel of moving sideline-to-sideline against the run and also does an excellent job mixing it up going against various offensive linemen on blitz packages. Look for Greenway to be very active in this game both blitzing Rodgers and shadowing Brandon Jackson for much of the afternoon. Plus it’s very likely the next time you see him will be in the Pro Bowl playing just a few feet away from Clay Matthews.
5) It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t ask, so I’ll make it short and simple: Will Leslie Frazier be the Vikings’ head coach by season’s end?
No. Childress has already survived acting alone in cutting Randy Moss, publicly calling out Brett Favre and the officials that lead to a fine as well as massive boos and movements from Vikings faithful calling for his dismissal. You’d think it would have already happened unless Childress really is a cat that is finally down to his last life.
Plus have you seen the job Leslie Frazier has done so far this year? We currently have the leagues 16th ranked defense on the third highest payroll and you better believe the Vikings front office sees that before we do. Take this projection with a grain of salt in a week-to-week league that really goes into January; but look for Zygi Wilf to wait until the end of the season before making any major decisions.
Thanks again to Jon from The Vikings Age for helping us out this week. We will be answering some questions for their site, so make sure to pay them a visit before Sunday’s game.