Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Dungy likes Vikings chances in playoffs

Posted by: under Vikings, Football on TV, Leslie Frazier, Bryant McKinnie, Leslie Frazier Updated: December 19, 2009 - 12:15 PM

Former NFL coach Tony Dungy has made a smooth transition from the sideline to the analyst chair at NBC's "Football Night in America" studio show. Dungy has proven to be candid, insightful and honest, something that many former coaches struggle to do when attempting to make the move to television.

Part of the reason for this might be because Dungy doesn't have a desire to get back into coaching and thus isn't afraid to speak his mind and potentially offend teams. In an interview with the Star Tribune this week, Dungy again made it clear he doesn't have a desire to return in 2010. "I do not, I do not," Dungy said. "No."

Dungy, a former Vikings defensive coordinator, will in NBC's studio Sunday night as the network airs the Vikings game in Carolina. Here are Dungy's view on a few subjects involving the Vikings.

Q. What do you think of Minnesota and its playoff chances?

Dungy: “They are an extremely talented team and I think they’ve got everything they need to move on in the playoffs. They have a great run defense, they have got big-play guys on offense, they are taking care of the football. The biggest concern I would have would be Adrian [Peterson] and the fact that you know he’s going to have the ball a lot in the playoffs and he’s got to hang onto it. But other than that they don’t seem to have anything that would worry you as a coach of how they’re going to function in the playoffs. I think they are playing outstanding football. There was the one game in Arizona but that happens. I remember in ’99, our big playoff year in Tampa, we actually had a string of winning nine out of 10 straight games and the game we lost we lost 45-0 to Oakland. You look back and say, ‘What happened?’ It just ends up being an aberration and I think that was probably the case in Arizona. They came back and played very strong against Cincinnati and hopefully they’ll move on and just say, ‘Hey, that was one game.’”

Q. How big of a concern is Peterson's fumbling in your mind?
 
Dungy: “It is a concern because he’s a guy who should have the ball a lot. When you’re ahead and you’re trying to close out games you want him to have the ball. We went through it a little bit with Mike Alstott [in Tampa Bay]. It was his third year and he’s closing out the games for us and had some fumble problems. But it just becomes concentrating and realizing that you have got to hang onto it then. Understanding that once that happens teams are going to come after the ball and so if you have that history out there, you just encourage more people to come grabbing at it. So, it just becomes a concentration issue and one of the things that Adrian is going to have to focus in on. Especially when the playoffs start.”
 
Q. Is there anything you can see when it comes to Peterson's fumbling?
 
Dungy:  “No. Some backs always like to carry it in one hand. Emmitt Smith always carried it in his left hand, Franco Harris always did. Other than keeping it in the hand that’s closest to the sideline it’s just a matter of concentration. Of knowing that people are coming after the ball and I’ve got to hang onto it.”
 
Q. A couple of weeks ago after the Vikings played in Arizona, many said you made a comment about Peterson tipping off defenses with the way he moved his eyes before the snap. Can you explain?
 
Dungy:  “I did not [say that]. That was not me. That’s been attributed to me. It was not me. I’ve watched his eyes and I don’t see that. Someone else said Bryant McKinnie and his stance [was a tell]. [That came from Tony Boselli on the Westwood One radio broadcast.] All of those things I think come out after the fact. I don’t think there is anything to either one of those really.”
 
Q. So when did it get back to you that you made this observation that you didn't make?
 
Dungy: “Someone called me and said, ‘Could you explain this? How Peterson is giving [a tell].’ I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about but I’ve had four or five people call me and ask me to explain it and really it wasn’t me.”
 
Q. Do you think this is the year your friend Leslie Frazier, a former assistant under you in Indianapolis, gets a shot to become a head coach?
 
Dungy: “It should be. There aren’t that many jobs that come open every year and it’s always several guys being looked at for four or five jobs. He’s done a tremendous job at several places he’s been a head coach before. The Vikings, having the success that they are having and they are going to be a marquee playoff team where he’s going to be seen quite a bit. I hope this is the year for him because he’s a tremendous coach and a great person.”

 

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