Live Chat excerpts: Class of 2012 quickly makes impact

  • Updated: October 3, 2012 - 9:01 AM

Star Tribune writer Dan Wiederer has a Vikings Live Chat every Tuesday at noon. Here are edited portions from Tuesday's Q and A.

Q Are the Vikings doing anything to work on their lack of interceptions? It seems the team's defensive backs dropped or missed about four balls they could've picked off.

A After a 2011 season in which everyone threw on the Vikings at will, the secondary is holding up very well. Can't say enough about the savvy of Harrison Smith. Josh Robinson has been progressing nicely. Antoine Winfield is old reliable. And Jamarca Sanford really had a huge game. I don't know if there were four interceptions to be had Sunday. But there were at least two. And the Vikings need to secure those and keep the takeaways coming.

 

Q Do you see the Vikings making any moves before the trade deadline to solidify their roster?

A Don't mistake a 3-1 start for a fast track into Super Bowl contention. The roster they've assembled is jelling and maturing and on its way to becoming a really solid and complete football team. NFL in-season trades are rare, and I'd be stunned if the Vikings had any conversations to do something.

Q Can you go over the impact that the rookies are making.

A The two first-rounders -- Matt Kalil and Smith -- are delivering every single week. Kalil hasn't needed to be helped at left tackle, which is huge. And Smith? If you wondered why the Vikings fell in love with him, it was all on the table in Detroit. Two huge pass break-ups against Megatron. Plays with tenacity. Is rarely confused or out of position. He's everything the back end of this 'D' needed. Kicker Blair Walsh -- solid. Cornerback Josh Robinson -- solid. Still need to figure out who/what wideout Jarius Wright is. And right now Audie Cole, Robert Blanton and Rhett Ellison are special teams contributors primarily. All in all, this rookie class has been fantastic.

Q Do you think Michael Jenkins will be off the field when Wright gets back? Jenkins has looked slower then ever and possibly hurt.

A Wright is 100 percent healthy. So now we have to dig deeper into the mystery on what he's not doing that keeps him down the WR group. He was inactive in Detroit only because they need seven game-day inactives, not because his ankle is still a problem.

Q The "playing not to lose" offense cost them the Indy game and almost cost them the Jacksonville game.

A The Vikings don't have Drew Brees at QB. And they don't have Calvin Johnson at WR. So what they're trying to do is win games with a run-first diet and then put Christian Ponder in position to make high-percentage throws that don't put him in danger of making game-changing miscues or taking drive-killing sacks. As Adrian Peterson picks up steam, the run game will be an even greater priority. That is the identity of this offense. Take it or leave it.

Q The Vikings don't have a linebacker that excels in coverage, and it shows when tight ends and wide receivers pick up chunks of yardage underneath. People say that the Vikings are giving up the yards to prevent big plays, but a middle linebacker that can drop in the Cover 2 scheme would prevent that, à la Brian Urlacher.

A Urlacher types don't grow on trees. Against Detroit, the bulk of the game plan was devised to prevent getting beat over the top, which leads to easy completions underneath sometimes. I agree the Vikings don't have a superb pass-coverage LB. But no one would argue that Chad Greenway is having a phenomenal year and that Jasper Brinkley has been much better than expected.

Q Is the defense a product of coordinator Alan Williams or is Leslie Frazier looking over his shoulder?

A It's both. But Williams deserves major credit for what he's done in the first month. There's an underrated skill in coaching of recognizing your players' individual and collective strengths and tailoring your strategies accordingly. Williams seems to be mastering that pretty quickly. He puts guys in positions to excel. And he asks them to be fundamentally sound to do so.

Q How big an impact does Jerome Simpson make on this offense? We saw glimpses of what he can do last week, but will Ponder and Simpson develop that deep threat connection?

A Simpson accounted for 107 yards in Detroit. Four catches for 50. Drew two pass interference flags for 57 more. The Vikings will take that every single week.

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