VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData, Arif Hasan of Vikings Territory, Aj Mansour, who hosts Minnesota Vikings Overtime on KFAN, and Joe Oberle a long-time Minnesota based writer. The VikesCentric crew crunches numbers, watches video and isn't shy about saying what's on their minds.

Posts about Vikings

VIKES CENTRIC: Replacing Charlie - The Preferred Path To Filling The Gap At LG

Posted by: AJ Mansour Updated: February 28, 2015 - 6:50 AM

After placing most of their offseason attention on Adrian Peterson and the little situation he’s got going on with the league, the Minnesota Vikings made their first offseason splash on Friday releasing veteran guard Charlie Johnson.

Johnson, a four year starter for the Vikings, admittedly had his ups and downs with Minnesota but probably saw the writing on the wall after a subpar year highlighted some of the flaws that are accentuated with an aging body. So now, with no starter in place, we look at replacing Charlie Johnson and to no surprise, there are a multitude of ways to do so.

Stay In-House…
The cheapest and most immediate way to do it is to stay in house. Injuries during the 2015 season highlighted the fact that the Vikings aren’t exactly blessed with a plethora of depth on the offensive line, but there are some options available.

The first name that would be available to slide right in for Johnson would be Joe Berger. Acquired by the Vikings in 2011, Berger is a swing offensive lineman who has played both right and left guard for the Vikings. He’s also their backup center. The catch?  Berger, 32 years old, is also a free agent this season and seeing the direct need for the Vikings may be able to add a little value to his deal.

If you want to go the young route, look towards David Yankey, but do so carefully. Yankey, a fifth round selection in 2014, was deactivated most of the season in 2014 and didn’t play a snap for the Vikings. Also known for his versatility up and down the line, Yankey played both tackle and both guard positions in college at Stanford.

Go Shopping…
Maybe the most popular option would be to hit the open market and go shopping in free agency to bring in a veteran who can play right away. The name you most often hear...Mike Iupati (SF).

Iupati will not come cheap, you’re talking a cap hit of $6-$7 million dollars, but is it worth it? You get more of a guarantee of adequate performance from a veteran, but there is no 100% thing, and it comes with a price. You also won’t be the only one bidding for him so the price may drive up higher if a bidding war breaks out.

Other free agent options include Orlando Franklin (DEN) at the high level and Clint Boling (CIN) and Justin Blalock (ATL) a half tick down and a little more affordable.

Develop through the draft…
This is the most risky option for multiple reasons. Not only is there no guarantee that your rookie player will translate, you are also waiting through the free agency period before acting on the draft leaving your options stripped pretty thin if for some reason you come up short on Draft Day. That said, you can completely strike gold if you do it right.

Nail your pick at the left guard position and you could be sitting on an All Pro offensive guard for a low price for the next 3 seasons after they develop. The likely name that you’ve all been hearing, Brandon Scherff out of Iowa. Standing at 6’5” tall and running a 5.26 second 40 at the combine, Scherff is athletic and strong. Known for his run blocking, he’d fit right into the current Minnesota scheme. In recent mock drafts, Scherff has gone anywhere from as high as #5 to as low as #17.

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If it were up to me, I’d cheat a little bit and do a combination of all options. This is the most likely plan for Rick Spielman and the Vikings to some extent. Yankey is a second year player so they will for sure retain him, Berger has swing man value and is your backup center so re-signing him seems like a no brainer as well. There’s your in-house move.

It’s too risky to head into the draft without a veteran that you feel is capable of starting at LG for your team. The closer we get to the new league year, the less likely I think it is that the Vikings will splash and go after Iupati or Franklin. Wouldn’t be surprised to see them pick up a second, even third tier free agent here to lend some stability.

Then, depending on how things fall throughout the draft, I would strive to address a different need in the first round while sitting on La’el Collins (LSU) or Cameron Erving (FSU) early in the second, maybe even trade up for them. Both are currently grading out as second-round prospects and both have long-term starter potential.

Whatever I do here, I don’t want to make it seem like the new LG has some big shoes to fill. Realistically, seeing the output that Johnson was delivering the past two seasons leave either of the two outside options to provide likely improvement along the offensive line. Cutting ties with Johnson was the right move, now go double up on it and make another good decision on his replacement.

What’s your preference on replacing Charlie Johnson at left guard? Let us know in the comment section below...

Follow Aj Mansour (@AjKFAN) on Twitter for more...

VikesCentric: Draft Guru Raises Vikings Grade In 2014 NFL Draft Re-Grade

Posted by: AJ Mansour Updated: January 24, 2015 - 9:06 AM

On the national scene, there is nobody more revered for predicting and analyzing the NFL Draft than ESPN Television’s Mel Kiper. Specializing on predicting the league’s draft since 1984, year-by-year Kiper’s accuracy gets better.

While Mel’s claim-to-fame will always be his legendary mock drafts, he also analyzes draft classes by each team the day after the draft concludes. Looking back to April of 2014 you can see Kiper’s grade on the 2014 Minnesota Vikings NFL Draft Class came in at a “B-”.

Kiper’s analysis centered around criticising the Vikings for reaching with the ninth overall pick and selecting Anthony Barr.

“I thought Anthony Barr was a pretty big reach based on my evaluations,” Kiper stated. “He’s a talented but raw player who lacks instincts on defense.”

With hindsight being 20/20 and having the 2014 season behind us, Kiper has now gone back to the draft boards that he graded before the season and has re-graded the 2014 draft class for each team. For the Minnesota Vikings, it was a mixed bag of criticism, but ultimately the grade did go up.

Not forgetting that third round offensive lineman David Yankey never played and sixth round cornerback Kendall James was cut before Week 1, Kiper raised his overall grade of the Vikings 2014 NFL Draft class to a “B+” in his recent re-evaluations.

The reasoning is pretty self explanatory, but here is what Kiper had to say after the fact.

“I actually knocked this draft down a peg last spring because I simply wasn’t as high on Anthony Barr as a player who could come in and provide early returns as a pass-rusher. The Vikings got him at No. 9 and I thought it was a reach; [after one season] it’s clear the Vikings have a player.”

Barr finished his rookie season with 55 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 passes defensed and 2 fumble recoveries despite missing the team’s final four games.

On the offensive side of the ball, the praise continued to rain down from Kiper.

“They also have a player in Teddy Bridgewater, who was the top QB on my all-rookie team. Sure, you can question whether he’ll become a star, but you can’t question that he looked more ready for this level of competition than any other rookie QB, and that he’s simply tough. I really like Bridgewater’s chances, and as I said then, “moving decisively to get [him] made sense, and they have the pieces around him to help him succeed.”

Teddy, one of the finalists for the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award, finished with 2,919 passing yards, 14 TDs, 12 INTs and a passer rating of 85.2 after coming on strong down the stretch of the season.

Maybe the best praise though, at least for the immediate future of this Vikings squad, came for running back Jerick McKinnon.

“Jerick McKinnon got called into action earlier than we thought and looked pretty good -- I do think if he gets a lot of carries, he’s going to hit a lot of home runs.”

“All in all, Minny has to be excited about this class. Barr was pretty good, and Bridgewater has a chance to be the answer at QB. Great Start.”

For those of us who watched every one of the Vikings games this season, I think that anaysis would be tough to argue.

But since we did watch every game this season, let’s take Kiper’s surface analysis one step further.

Hitting on Shamar Stephen in the 7th round should be a BIG bonus for the Vikings draft class in 2014. Stephen was active for all 16 games and even started 3 spot-starts for injury. Backing up Linval Joseph at the nose, Stephen made his presence felt on the regular and did a good job flashing from time-to-time but plugging up the middle often.

Antone Exum and Jabari Price were both active most of the season and did a good job filling in on the special teams and giving this team a little depth in the defensive backfield when needed.

Looking back at the last three draft classes for the Minnesota Vikings, it becomes increasingly clear that Rick Spielman is figuring out his style for draft day and it’s leading to some pretty good success.

For more offseason analysis of Vikings Football including "The Top 50 Free Agency Targets For Minnesota" head over to VikingsJournal.com.

VikesCentric: How Big Is The Gap Between The Packers And The Vikings?

Posted by: AJ Mansour Updated: January 12, 2015 - 1:55 PM

Sunday afternoon, many of you watched the Green Bay Packers knock Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys out of the NFL Playoffs. As it seems to go more often than not lately, the game went the way of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. For the third time in the past eight seasons, the Packers are on their way to the NFC Championship game, one win away from another Super Bowl appearance.

It’s tough to look across the Hudson, at the landscape of the NFL in Green Bay and not feel like they have everything and we have nothing. They have Rodgers, we’ll start our third new quarterback in as many years. They have the reigning rookie of the year (Eddie Lacy), we have a question mark at running back. They have Lambeau, we are currently displaced. They are playing in the NFC Championship game next weekend, we are watching from our couch.

For the past 10 or so years, outside of a flash in the pan in 2009, this has been the way things have gone. The future is starting to look a little brighter in Minneapolis, but the gap is still wide.

But how wide is it? It’s time to quantify the gap and answer the question, just how far behind the Green Bay Packers are the Minnesota Vikings?

To do this, we’ve created a fictitious 100-point grading scale with five categories. Each category brings with it a value scale of 0-20 points, with 20 points being the highest. Grading each of these teams across the Offense, Defense, Special Teams, Coaching and Fan Base, we’ll come up with a number to show us just how far the Vikings are from where the Green Bay Packers currently reside.

Buckle up, Vikings fans, the results are not expected to be pretty.

OFFENSIVE SCALE (20): Green Bay 19, Minnesota 8

The Green Bay Packers hold the trump card when it comes to the offensive category, his name is Aaron Rodgers. A-Rodg is currently the best quarterback in the league and I’m not sure there are any questions any more. He has the skills, he has the attitude and he has the confidence it takes to be a star in this league, and he does it on a regular basis, calf injury or not. Sprinkle in a decent offensive line, a top-5 wide receiver in Jordy Nelson and a dominant running back in Eddie Lacy and the Green Bay Packers offense  is one of the best in the league. The only knock that kept them from a perfect 20, is the offensive line that lacks consistency from time-to-time.

For the Vikings, we’ll split the middle and give them a 10, based mainly on potential. Teddy looks like he’s going to be the guy, but there’s really no telling what that ceiling is. Does he have the potential to be a guy like Aaron Rodgers or will he be an adequate starting quarterback, something like Jay Cutler and Matt Ryan? We just don’t know. With a gigantic question mark in the backfield given Adrian Peterson’s current situation, holes at the wide receiver spot and an offensive line that functions like a leaky sink, there are some big concerns for the Vikings on offense after the 2014 season.

DEFENSIVE SCALE (20): Green Bay 13, Minnesota 14

This may be the only category where the Vikings walk away on top, but I’m not sure that a one-point loss will mean much to the Packers. The two teams finished 14th (Minnesota) and 15th (Green Bay) during the regular season this year but the Minnesota defense is younger and seems to be trending in the right direction. Julius Pepper is playing on borrowed time and despite still being a dominant defender, even Clay Matthews is starting to show signs of normalcy. For the Vikings, Zimmer’s scheme mixed with Rhodes’ progression, Smith’s steady play and the upside that is Everson Griffen and Anthony Barr, the Vikings played poorly down the stretch and still finished ahead of the Pack. Give some of these young players another year or two and it will be very interesting to see where these two defenses stand.

SPECIAL TEAMS (20): Green Bay 12, Minnesota 12

By most accounts, this year was one of the worst special teams years for the Vikings in recent memory. Bad punts followed up by missed field goals preceding poor kick returns, that seemed to be the recipe for the Vikings season this year. Locke, Walsh and Patterson all had down seasons and their stats were all still better than the Packers lot.

Masthay, Crosby and Cobb had a down season across the border too. That said, the problems seem less pressing when your offense is able to score no matter the starting position. Giving both teams a 12 in this category is kind of a cop-out, but trying to weigh potential on something like special teams is a bit of a crap shoot. Just ask the Minnesota Vikings how their assessment of Cordarrelle Patterson played out this year?

COACHING STAFF (20): Green Bay 18, Minnesota 12

The most promising thing about comparing the two coaching staffs for these teams is the fact that last season, the gap within this category would have been twice as wide. Mike Zimmer has given the Vikings hope for the leadership of this team in the future. Norv Turner adds to that equation and we’ll sprinkle in the GM here too, Rick Spielman seemingly makes more good decisions than bad ones (yes we remember Christian Ponder). The attitude, the direction and the coaching seem to be the right mix for a successful team here in Minnesota.

Over in Green Bay, they’re working off of the same recipe card, but they are about six steps ahead of us here in Minnesota. Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson have this football thing figured out. The way they have not only identified the talent, but then go and utilize those skills is second to none right now. Again this is trending in a positive direction, but it has to be the Packers by a good margin right now.

FAN BASE/GAMEDAY ATMOSPHERE (20): Green Bay 20, Minnesota 8

I’m sure that this will upset certain factions of Vikings fans, but anybody that has ever visited Lambeau Field on Green Bay Packers gameday cannot argue that the atmosphere around that stadium, the level of passion inside the gates and the overall knowledge of the game among the fan base is top-notch. That’s what comes with a history of winning. I’m not saying that Minnesota doesn’t have those fans, but 4 Super Bowl losses and 0 victories followed by decades of disappointment have left those fans in hibernation mode. The new stadium in Minnesota will bring out the fan base again, if the team can pair that with a quality product on the field the fan base will mobilize again and this number will even out a bit. That said, mainly because they’re crazy, I’m not sure that Vikings fans will ever fully catch up to that of the Packers fan base. Trust me, I hate saying this, and they are annoying as can be, but they might be the best fan base in the league.

FINAL GRADES:

GREEN BAY 82 - MINNESOTA 54

It’s obviously not a scientific scale, but doing our best to compare the two franchises as a whole, the Vikings are currently 28 grade points behind the Green Bay Packers. Understanding that the Vikings are trending in the right direction in almost all categories, I honestly thought it was going to be worse. Let’s take another look at this in two years when the Zimmer/Spielman crew have had a few more draft classes and Teddy has a few more games under his belt. I’m not saying they will have usurped the Packers on top of the division by then, but this conversation will likely be a lot more interesting then.

VikesCentric: The Vikings shouldn't draft Melvin Gordon

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: January 8, 2015 - 7:50 AM

I hear a lot of Vikings fans hoping that the Vikings select Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon III with the 11th pick in this year’s NFL Draft. I like Gordon as much as anyone. I think he’ll be a very good NFL running back. I also don’t think the Vikings should take him – nor do I think they will.

Gordon is one of two players I’ve been asked most about since the season ended with regards to whether the Vikings will take them at 11 in the draft. The other is talented Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. As I stated in my first mock draft of the offseason, I don’t see any way Cooper slides out of the top 10 and falls in the Vikings’ lap at 11. If Rick Spielman wants the best wide receiver in this year’s draft, he’ll need to trade up and get him.

As for Gordon, I didn’t have him going in my top 20. Not yet anyway.

Before all my neighbors from across the border start yelling and name-calling, let me clarify. Gordon is the best running back in this year’s draft -- due in large part to the ACL injury suffered by Georgia running back Todd Gurley in November. Truth be told, Gurley was the best running back I saw this season but the knee injury sabotaged his first-round draft value. Even so, Gordon has the explosiveness to be a feature NFL running back, if there is such a thing anymore.

In fact, as things stand now, Gordon projects as potentially the only running back to go on Day 1 of the draft. He might go in the top 20. He might even go top-15. I might have him included somewhere in the top 15 of my future mock drafts if it becomes apparent that a team is strongly considering taking him. Overall, he might very well be one of the 10 best players in this year’s draft.

However, he’s a running back, and running backs as a position are no longer valued by NFL teams the way they once were. Even five years ago, Gordon might have been a top-five pick in the draft. In case you hadn’t noticed, though, today’s NFL is all about the passing game.

Both this season and last season only 13 players topped 1,000 rushing yards. In 2012 that number was 16. In 2011, 15 players topped 1,000. In 2010 it was 17. In 2009 it was 15, 2008 had 16, 2007 had 17 and in 2006 there were 23 players with more than 1,000 rushing yards. The “one star running back” system is eroding. Most teams now favor a running back committee – like the Patriots have done for years. Five of the eight teams that played in the Wild Card round of the playoffs last weekend employed a backfield by committee approach (Panthers, Ravens, Colts, Bengals, Lions) for a good chunk of the season. The Ravens finally settled on one back (Justin Forsett) while injuries eventually forced the Cardinals into a committee backfield.

Last year, not a single running back went in the first round of the NFL Draft. The Tennessee Titans made Bishop Sankey the first running back selected in the second round with the 54th overall pick. Jeremy Hill went to Cincinnati one pick later and Carlos Hyde was taken by the 49ers two picks after that in a mini run on running backs. I like Gordon better than all those guys, which is why I think he goes in the first round – just not to the Vikings.

The Vikings squeezed 1,108 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns from the duo of Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon this season. They got 1,549 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns from the duo of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart the season before. That’s a difference of 27 rushing yards and 0.25 touchdowns per game. For argument’s sake, let’s say the Vikings part ways with Peterson this offseason and choose to retain Asiata (he’s a restricted free agent). Let’s also say McKinnon gets even a little better in his second season and the Vikings do something to improve their offensive line, even a little. If all these very feasible things occur, my guess is the Vikings could squeeze something around 1,500 yards and 10-12 touchdowns out of their running backs next season. And that might be selling them short – there are NFL observers who feel McKinnon could develop into a pretty solid NFL running back. Heck, he averaged 4.8 yards per carry in part-time duty as a rookie so why not?

Is it really nice to have an elite player like Peterson in the backfield? Of course. Would it be really cool to have Gordon in Vikings purple? Absolutely. However, it’s just more of a luxury than a necessity at this point.

The Vikings – and pretty much every other team in the top 20 of the draft – have more pressing needs than a stud running back. In case you missed it, the Vikes have holes to fill at offensive line, linebacker and wide receiver -- and could also use help at cornerback and safety. They can’t plug all those holes in free agency.

When the Vikings’ front office self-scouts their most pressing needs, I’m guessing running back is not near the top of the list.

This is the point where someone usually reminds me (read: scolds me) that teams should always take the best player available rather than draft for need. That’s great in theory. If your team is without a glaring need – or perhaps has needs that can be adequately addressed in latter rounds, by all means take the best player available. However, 10 teams passed on J.J. Watt four years ago when they shouldn’t have, so you can’t tell me the “best player available” strategy is always in play. And if Jameis Winston slides to 11 in the draft this year, I’m guessing the Vikings won’t take him, even if he’s the top-rated player left on their war room draft board. They have a quarterback last I checked.

In short, the Vikings have bigger fish to fry. Get a guard, get a tackle, get a wide receiver or get a linebacker... then maybe later in the draft if there’s a value pick at running back, grab him. This is a pretty good running back draft class. If Peterson is gone, the Vikings might select one later on to complement McKinnon. There will still be good ones available in the third and fourth rounds.

Gordon looks like he’ll be a very good NFL player so I’m not knocking his talents at all. I’d really, really like to get him in my dynasty fantasy football league this summer. He’ll help whatever NFL team he goes to.

I just doubt it’s going to be the Vikings.

Go to VikingsJournal.com for more on the NFL Draft and all the speculation on the Vikings landing Larry Fitzgerald.

Bo Mitchell is the Vice President of Content at SportsData, head writer at VikingsJournal.com, co-host of the Fantasy Football Pants Party at 1500ESPN.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.

You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

Major Protests Expected This Weekend and This Is Why...

Posted by: AJ Mansour Updated: October 30, 2014 - 7:51 AM

Months of planning and negotiations between the multiple sides that will be represented at this weekend’s Vikings vs Redskins game have come to culminated on this moment. November 2nd, 2014 is expected to represent one of the largest Native American protests in the history of the State of Minnesota and the epicenter of it all will be TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

The controversy has been stirring for the past couple years surrounding the nickname “Redskins” that goes along with the Washington NFL franchise. While one side claims that the term is honoring the warrior history of the Native people, the other side, actual Native Americans claim that the nickname brings with it a much more disparaging etymology.

To some it is believed that the term is simply a slightly racist term used to reference the skin tone of the Native American people. If that’s not outlandish enough for you, there’s more to the story as well.

Those protesting the use of the nickname suggest that the term “Redskins” is in reference to an ugly time in American history when the civil rights of American Indians were taken from them, along with many of their lives being taken as well.

*Disclaimer – While some hold tight to the truth in the following explanation, there are others who refute it’s accuracy. The following details do contain graphic explanations.

According to multiple historical sources, the nickname “Redskins” refers to the day and age when bounties were placed on the heads of Native Americans and the monies were collected when the scalps of dead American Indians were submitted.

With the land being filled by European settlers, government officials put a bounty of 50 pounds out for every dead Native American. As the bodies of Native Americans were submitted, townsmen realized they had a problem disposing of the decaying bodies. The bounty was then changed to reflect the problem and required only the heads be submitted to receive the bounty. But still, the problem persisted. According to some, the term “redskins” came about at this point as the requirements were changed again requiring only the scalp of the deceased to collect the monies.

Understandably, the term brings with it some heavy negative connotations.

To date, The University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL have been in contact with both Dan Snyder, owner of the Redskins,  and representatives from multiple Native American tribes trying to lay out a plan for this weekend and the ultimate future of the Redskins nickname.  To date, the plan for this weekend continues to be business as usual for all parties involved. 

Because of these decisions, representatives from multiple tribes will be on hand Sunday protesting the NFL’s use of the nickname led by Indian activist Clyde Bellecourt. While the protests are expected to remain peaceful, they are also expected to be large. Sources with knowledge of the situation expect the protests to cause major delays leading up to kickoff.

At this point, it appears as if the name change is inevitable, but will not happen this season. It’s a sign of the changing of our world, and it’s probably for the better. 

VikesCentric: Something’s gotta give

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: October 22, 2014 - 9:38 AM

The NFL has never been more pass-friendly. However, on Sunday in Tampa the worst passing offense in the NFL will square off with the worst pass defense in the NFL. It’s the movable object vs. the resistible force and (you guessed it) something’s gotta give!

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on bye this past weekend. This presumably gave them a little extra time to, among other things, review film from their 48-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6 – a game in which Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco gashed their defense for five touchdown passes before halftime.

Yes, before halftime.

In other words, Flacco – a fairly pedestrian quarterback statistically speaking by today’s NFL standards – had more touchdown passes against the Buccaneers in the first 30 minutes of that game than Vikings quarterbacks have had all season.

Yes, all season.

The Vikings’ passing game has been that bad… and the Buccaneers’ pass defense has been just as bad. On Sunday at Raymond James Stadium we’ll find out which is worse.

In the purple corner: the Vikings passing game

Thus far this season, the Vikings rank 32nd in pass offense (a.k.a. dead last) with an average of 184 yards per game. Astonishingly, they have thrown just four touchdown passes. No other team has fewer than seven.

The 184 yards per game rate is fairly awful, but not historically awful. There are examples in recent seasons of teams who have averaged less than that. In fact, just last year both the Jets and Buccaneers averaged fewer passing yards per game. Of course, both of those teams at least reached double digits in touchdown passes.

The Vikings are currently on a pace to finish the season with 2,944 yards passing and nine touchdown passes. Nine. Touchdown. Passes. Heck, Joe Kapp once threw seven touchdown passes in a single game for the Vikings back in 1969.

Nine would be bad. Really bad. It would tie the franchise record for fewest touchdown passes in a season set by the 1971 Vikings. Gary Cuozzo led that team with six touchdown passes. Bob Lee had two and Norm Snead had one. Cuozzo, Lee and Snead is not the company Bridgewater, Ponder and Cassel want to join. Speaking of Cassel, the last NFL team to have a full season with passing stats as bad as the Vikings’ are projected to be was the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs, who finished with 2,937 yards and eight touchdown passes – led by Cassel, who threw for 1,796 yards and six touchdowns.

Fortunately for Vikings fans, I’m optimistic they’ll break the 10 touchdown-plateau this season. As Arif Hasan adroitly suggested yesterday, patience is needed with Teddy Bridgewater. He’ll become more acclimated as the season goes on and start producing better numbers.

Maybe even this week.

In the pewter corner: the Buccaneers pass defense

The Buccaneers rank 32nd in pass defense, allowing 295 yards per game. They have allowed 15 touchdown passes, which ties them for next-to-last in the NFL. Only the Jets have allowed more scoring passes (18). Of course, the Jets haven’t had a bye week yet, so technically the Bucs are right there with them in terms of ineptitude.

The Buccaneers are also allowing the highest completion percentage (71.6) and quarterback rating (111.8) in the NFL. Their 8.4 yards per attempt allowed ranks 31st.

Sacks have not been a specialty of the Buccaneers this season, either. They only have nine in six games, which has to be a little encouraging for the depleted and ineffective Vikings offensive line.

Injuries have been part of the problem. The Buccaneers lost starting right cornerback Mike Jenkins in Week 1 to a torn pectoral. His replacement, Johnthan Banks missed the game against the Ravens in Week 6 due to a neck injury. Banks could play against the Vikings – not that it would be a bad thing for the Vikings since Banks ranks 99th overall out of 106 cornerbacks graded by ProFootballFocus.com.

Look for the Vikings to target Banks, if he plays, more often than left corner Alterraun Verner, who’s actually playing pretty well this season after signing a four-year deal with the Bucs in May.

Scheme might be the other problem. Leslie Frazier, who oversaw the Vikings’ 31st-ranked pass defense last season has taken his Tampa 2 scheme to Tampa as the Buccaneers defensive coordinator. It could be the Tampa 2 defense is on its last legs as a base NFL defense, as many others have suggested.

And the winner is…

The resistible force will come out on top against the movable object. This isn’t necessarily a prediction for a Vikings win, but it is a favorable outlook for the Vikings’ passing game as a whole, assuming head coach Mike Zimmer can find enough healthy bodies to block ‘em up front.

Join the crew of VikingsJournal.com for a Monday Night Football viewing party this Monday in Bloomington. We’d love to see you there!

Bo Mitchell is the Vice President of Content at SportsData, head writer at VikingsJournal.com, co-host of the Fantasy Football Pants Party at 1500ESPN.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.

You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

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