Vikings' platoon at guard is still evolving

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 28, 2012 - 9:41 PM

Brandon Fusco remains the starter on the right side, but backup Geoff Schwartz is beginning to get more reps.

 

Shotgun formation, empty backfield, five potential pass catchers spread wide.

The Vikings weren't expecting an 80-yard touchdown on their first play Sunday in Chicago. But they were hoping for positive yardage.

In theory, quarterback Christian Ponder had his eyes on a pair of crossing routes with Kyle Rudolph and Jerome Simpson zigging across the middle of the field. Given time, Ponder might have also moved to Michael Jenkins as a third read and even used Adrian Peterson or Jerome Felton as safety valves.

Instead, the Vikings' opening drive was swallowed up 2.4 seconds after the first snap. That's all it took for Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton to beat right guard Brandon Fusco inside with an elementary swim move, also darting past John Sullivan and engulfing Ponder for a 9-yard loss.

So much for a fast start in a high-stakes road game.

"I overstepped the guy," Fusco said. "I looked outside and tried to give a hand for Sully. But I missed my hand and [Melton] kind of just got between us both. ... That's on me."

That was Fusco's most glaring error Sunday and evidence of his continued struggles. At the same time, it provided an opening for Geoff Schwartz to become the Vikings' preferred right guard.

For the first time this season, Schwartz was on the field more than Fusco in Chicago, playing 36 of 66 offensive snaps.

On Wednesday, coach Leslie Frazier said Fusco would remain his starter. But it's clear the opening for Schwartz has grown wider. The Vikings have used the right guard rotation -- "RG2," anyone? -- for six games now. And Frazier has tried to put a positive spin on the strategy, believing it's giving two players a chance to develop.

"We think we're getting the best of both worlds," he said.

Confidence issue

Still, as Fusco's inconsistency has spiked, the coaching staff has grown concerned with his confidence.

Said offensive line coach Jeff Davidson: "We need Brandon to go back to the basics and fundamentals of things and be able to target one thing and make sure he's not thinking about too many things at once. That's when it starts clouding up."

Fusco admits there have been significant challenges to operating in a rotation but has also owned his struggles.

"Getting into a rhythm in a game is tough when [another guy] is switching in," he said. "But it's a coach's decision, and I've got to go with it. And I put myself in this position. I've allowed Geoff to get some reps."

Now preparing for his 12th NFL start, Fusco knows life won't get any easier Sunday at Lambeau Field. Green Bay's attacking 3-4 defense will require Fusco not only to be both quick and alert in space but also to keep his mind centered with the varied pressures, stunts and blitzes that Packers coordinator Dom Capers likes to mix in.

He realizes the Bears sensed his struggles Sunday and kept attacking.

"They're picking on me a little bit," Fusco said. "And I haven't really been playing that well. I know that. I need to get back to my game -- being physical, keeping my head up and on a swivel."

Back to the basics

In meetings, Vikings coaches have shown Fusco that his pass blocking has sputtered in big part because he's too often being overaggressive and losing patience.

The quick fix, Davidson said, is polishing up the fundamentals and not overthinking.

"This can be a simple game," Davidson said. "Most of the time, it's a one-on-one block. And if you're playing with proper technique, you make it a lot easier for yourself. You can overcomplicate it if you allow yourself to. So with Brandon we need to keep going back to basics and making sure he doesn't overcomplicate things."

Schwartz has played well at times during his relief stints, showing a promising combination of size, toughness and intelligence. But he, too, has heard urges from Davidson to play faster.

"With a lot of our guys, it seems like when they improve in one area, something else tends to falter," Davidson said. "We need to get to a point where a guy is good and stable at that one thing and then gets better at something else, too. Right now, we're spinning our wheels a lot. It happens. But we have to minimize that."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - LP: M. Latos 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 5
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 9 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Greene 4
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 4 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 8 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Penny 6
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 0
Toronto - WP: R. Dickey 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 2
Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 7
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: B. Peacock 8
Chicago WSox - WP: D. Webb 6 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: L. Oliveros 3
Texas - LP: M. Kirkman 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 2
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Locke 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 6
San Francisco - WP: G. Kontos 12 FINAL
Colorado - LP: M. Belisle 7
Seattle - WP: J. Paxton 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 5
Washington - LP: D. Fister 1 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4
Arizona - LP: B. Ziegler 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: K. Quackenbush 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
NY Giants 9/8/14 6:10 PM
Detroit
San Diego 9/8/14 9:20 PM
Arizona
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
(25) Louisville 31
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(19) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(18) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(23) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Washington
(14) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(13) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(15) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(7) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(17) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(21) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(12) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(16) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(9) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(21) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(8) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Toronto 12 FINAL
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 13 FINAL
Calgary 28
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 78 FINAL
Phoenix 96
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Vikings win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close