No, the Vikings don’t look at Thursday’s exhibition in Seattle as “a revenge game.” It’s a preseason game that won’t count in the standings.
But offensive coordinator Norv Turner and the coaching staff do see this upcoming exhibition as a valuable teaching tool for young players about the week-to-week preparation that goes on in the regular season.
“Every week is a whole different deal,” Turner said. “So our guys are going from one style of defense right now and in four days playing a totally different style of defense. So it’s a great experience for everybody, but more importantly for our young players, because that’s the way the league is. You play on Sunday and everyone says, ‘You played so good. How come you struggled the next Sunday?’ Well, you’re playing a different a different team. You’re playing a whole different style of defense and players have to learn how to make those kinds of adjustments.
“I think a year ago when [T.J. Clemmings] had his tougher moments, it was those types of things. You go from playing San Diego that plays one defense to playing Denver, who plays a whole different defense. The calls are different, the protections different, your gap protections are different and you have to master it and handle it in a week of preparation.”
While both the Bengals and the Seahawks use a 4-3 front against base personnel groupings, the defenses really aren’t all that similar. The Bengals are a lot like the Vikings in that they like to blitz, putting pressure on the guys in the secondary. The Seahawks, meanwhile, try to generate pressure with four rushers while employing zone coverages behind it.
The Vikings coaches say they did not prep their players much on what the Bengals like to do before heading out to Cincinnati last week for joint practices and the preseason game. They had to pick it up on the fly and adjust, especially for Turner’s offense when it came to pass protection.
“The great thing about going over there and working with Cincinnati is we basically got three games because Wednesday and Thursday for the quarterback were game-type situations,” Turner said. “He wasn’t getting sacked [because defenders weren’t allowed to touch the QBs]. But it was ones against ones, it was sped up, it was Cincinnati doing things that they’re not going to do in preseason. So we got a lot of work against different looks and I liked the way our guys performed in those situations.”
After beating the Bengals, the Vikings are getting three days of practice to get ready for the Seahawks, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in 2015. Turner knows the Seahawks will keep it vanilla in the preseason. But the preparation process for Thursday’s game, even if it is scaled down compared to the regular season, will be beneficial.
“It’s a chance for us to go on the road, have to deal with the crowd noise, have to deal with the environment and play against a very good defense,” Turner said yesterday. “All this stuff we’re doing — whether it’s practicing with Cincinnati, playing them, going and playing Seattle — it’s getting us ready for the regular season. So that’s what we’re using it for.”