Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He previously covered the Minnesota Vikings for four years, starting in 2008. In addition, he covered college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.

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Doleman: 'I'm not a big QB fan'

Posted by: Chip Scoggins Updated: September 29, 2011 - 4:01 PM

Former Vikings defensive end Chris Doleman lives in Atlanta now, but he was at Winter Park on Wednesday after learning that he will be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime of their Oct. 23 game against the Green Bay Packers.

In 15 seasons, Doleman collected 150.5 sacks, fourth-most in NFL history. He led the NFL in 1989 with 21.0 sacks.

I asked Doleman, who began his career as a linebacker, about his pass-rushing ability and he said his motivation was pretty simple.

"I’m not a big quarterback fan," he said. "I’m serious. I’m just not. ... I realize the game has changed a lot. They’ve put even more of a premium on quarterbacks, but what you’re going to have is everybody is going to want to be a quarterback and nobody wants to do the other side."

Doleman was named to the Pro Bowl eight times in his career. He came out of retirement to play one final season for the Vikings in 1999.

"This was the last hurrah," he said. "This was the last hour before they close the bar, or whatever you want to call it. It was a great time to play football and it never felt like work. It just felt like getting out there and just having fun with your friends. We looked forward to the film on Mondays and see how well you played and see what level you were playing at, so I really enjoyed that time. And the last sack that I had, was pretty big. I went over 150 and it was against Green Bay so I mean, come on, what more can you ask for?"

Doleman was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010 and 2011. He believes he's worthy of enshrinement, but said it won't "define" him. 

"If it happens it happens, but I am not going to sit up here and hold my breath," Doleman said. "Amongst defensive lineman I finished third in the history of the league and I’m still waiting. It doesn’t make sense, but I’m still waiting. If they call me and I’m alive, maybe I accept it, maybe I won’t. It might be, ‘You should have called me 50 years earlier’, I don’t know. But my point is that it’s not going to define who I am. As everyone goes into that stadium and you look around the rafters and you see your name there, you know that you have made your mark."

 

About that Berrian turnaround ...

Posted by: Chip Scoggins Updated: September 27, 2011 - 10:19 AM

Buried beneath the rubble of the Vikings 0-3 start and trio of second-half collapses is the fact Bernard Berrian has only one catch for 17 yards on the season.

The Vikings were hoping for a bounce-back season from Berrian, who had only 28 catches and no touchdowns last season. It's no secret that Berrian and Brett Favre never clicked or developed any kind of chemistry on and off the field.

The Vikings were hoping that would change once Donovan McNabb arrived, but so far the results are the same. Berrian remains a non-factor in an offense that's desperate for a vertical threat.

McNabb targeted Berrian four times in Sunday's 26-23 loss to Detroit. Two of those passes came on third down in the fourth quarter when the Vikings needed to make a play.

McNabb overthrew Berrian on third-and-14 after Berrian had gotten a step on his defender down the sideline. McNabb missed Berrian again on third-and-5 with 1:22 left.

There's no secret to Berrian's game and how the Vikings want to use him. They want to hit him on deep throws to loosen up the defense for Adrian Peterson and the middle of the field for the tight ends.

But whether it's a lack of timing, Berrian's inability to get open, McNabb's inaccuracy, poor pass protection or a combination of a lot of factors, it's just not working.

"There were a few times where we tried to target Bernard, but I think we’ll continue to try to work on getting him the football," Coach Leslie Frazier said. "It’s just about getting that separation and getting in situations where we feel like we have a chance to get him the football. It’s something that we’re going to need between Donovan and Bernard, especially downfield making some plays. We’ll just have to continue to work on it."

Kill in rare form

Posted by: Chip Scoggins Updated: September 20, 2011 - 4:07 PM

I wasn't sure what to expect from Gophers coach Jerry Kill at his weekly press conference Tuesday. It was the first time I had seen Kill in person since he suffered a seizure in the final seconds of the New Mexico State game.

Kill made it perfectly clear that he isn't slowing down despite suffering more seizures while he was hospitalized. Our Gophers writer Phil Miller has some of Kill's spirited reaction on his blog right here.

I asked Kill about Saturday's opponent -- North Dakota State -- and how a number of players on the Bison roster are from the Twin Cities and wanted to play for the Gophers but were not recruited by Tim Brewster.

Kill didn't need any reminders about how motivated those players will be Saturday night.

"Well, I've heard about it since I took the job," he said. "Shoot, I was told I wasn't good enough for the job. So I'm one of those guys. You don't think I don't compete or I don't think about that from a day-to-day basis? So you bet your tail end they are going to come in here and be ready to play, and they are going to play with a chip on their shoulder.

"You don't have to convince me and tell me how hard those son-of-a-bucks are going to play. That's a subject that doesn't need to be discussed. I know they are going to play their best game, and I know they are going to play hard. I've got to make sure I our kids understand that. And, you know, if they don't understand it, they are not very educated, because it is what it is. They got beat in 2007 here and they had to block a field goal (to win in 2006).

"I lived with that I-AA and Division II label and all that, and I'm the same guy that ... we were I-AA and we went to Indiana and kicked their butt. Those things you can throw out the door. That's why college football is such a great sport. You don't know who is going to win from week to week. That's why you play. It don't matter what [darn] level it is, you'd better hook it up. They have some good players now, I'm telling you.

"So you're not going to hear me say anything because I know. I've lived it. Now, some of these people may not have lived it, and we have got some kids in the program that should have lived it still. [Duane] Bennett ought to remember it. So hopefully he'll get the message across."

 

 

Second-half mistakes doom Vikings

Posted by: Chip Scoggins Updated: September 18, 2011 - 7:11 PM

The Vikings had a stunning second-half collapse in their 24-20 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday after doing so many things right in the first half.

The Bucs deserve credit for pulling themselves together at halftime. I did a column on the drastic change in their performance for Monday's paper.

There is plenty of blame to go around on the Vikings side for the second-half failures. The offense managed just 114 yards in the second half. The defense had trouble stropping LeGarrette Blount, which slowed down their pass rush and allowed Josh Freeman to get into a rhythm.

Freeman completed 15 of 20 passes for 191 yards in the second half.

But the troubling part of the Vikings second half was their self-inflicted mistakes. Brian Robison jumped offsides on a third-down play that ended with the Vikings recovering a fumble. 

Antoine Winfield and Husain Abdullah both missed tackles that turned what should have been a short gain by Preston Parker on third-and-12 into a 51-yard play.

Jared Allen was called for roughing the passer after he unnecessarily bumped Freeman after a throw, costing the Vikings 15 critical yards. The Bucs scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Arrelious Benn on the next play.

On the ensuing kickoff, Lorenzo Booker unwisely brought the ball out from six yards deep in the end zone and got stopped at the 9-yard line.

Then, with the Bucs in easy field-goal range inside of two minutes, Leslie Frazier opted not to use a timeout to stop the clock and save more time for his offense.

The Vikings simply aren't good enough to overcome all those mistakes.

"The offside (penalty on Robison) killed us," Allen said. "We could have had the ball at the 5-yard line. Roughing the passer on me. I wouldn’t have intentionally done it, obviously, but that’s a knucklehead move on my part to get a penalty in that situation. Still, at the end of the game, we had a chance to stop them, and I’ll take our defense against any team in the NFL. We have to find a way – if we have to stay on the field at halftime, I don’t know – but we’ve got to come out of the locker room and be better. The last two games, we’ve been pathetic. To have a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and blow it, with this defense, Jiminy Cricket."

 

 

McNabb: I'm not worried about stats

Posted by: Chip Scoggins Updated: September 14, 2011 - 1:44 PM

Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb held his weekly press conference on Wednesday and his 39-yard passing total in the loss to San Diego in the season opener was the focus of conversation.

McNabb's passing statistics were even more alarming when you consider the league set a record for passing in Week 1 with 7,842 yards, including 517 from Tom Brady. The league average per team was 245 yards.

McNabb attempted to downplay the significance of his poor start statistically compared to his peers around the league.

"I’m not here competing with any other quarterbacks. I’m here to win ballgames," he said. "If you throw for 300, 400, 500 yards and you still lose a game, you’re still 0-1. We can look at QB ratings and everybody else’s numbers and stats, but it’s about being 1-0 at this particular point and we’re not. So now it’s just correcting it so we can possibly be 1-1."

His response was fairly predictable. But the manner in which the Vikings lost is what makes fans so uneasy. Not too many people predicted the Vikings would win Sunday. Probably fewer thought they would pass for 2 yards and have two first downs in the second half.

"You have to have short-term memory first of all," McNabb said. "You have to be patient and you have to understand it’s all about winning in this game. If I pass for 37 yards or whatever it may have been, or if I pass for 400, we lost the game."

The Vikings have so many new parts in their offense that it's probably unrealistic to think they would hit on all cylinders from the start. McNabb, however, isn't buying the "time to develop" angle. 

"That’s something you say when you’re young," he said. "Do I have time to sit back and let it grow? No. I want it to happen now so that’s the way that I prepare. We prepare to win now. We have that type of team here and we expect to put it out on the field."

 

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