New Vikings beat writer Dan Wiederer just finished his first live chat with fans, which means he's getting a real taste for how we operate here in Minnesota. As you can see, one question he fielded concerned the possibility of moving Bernard Berrian and/or Joe Webb to cornerback.
You can see it took poor Dan a little by surprise. Since he's not from around here, he might not recall that there is PRECEDENT for such a GENIUS move. The year was 1999, and the desperate Denny Green-led Vikings, who were in the midst of ignoring their defense for the 7th consecutive season (or so), moved Robert Tate to corner from wide receiver in the MIDDLE OF A PLAYOFF SEASON. Yes, in the year that followed 15-1, Tate became a key defensive player. This really happened, Dan. A few excerpts from Strib articles back in the day confirm it.
Dec. 4, 1999: Coach Dennis Green said Robert Tate's move from receiver to cornerback could be temporary. Tate is acting as the team's fourth cornerback, but could return to receiver when cornerback Keith Thibodeaux recovers from a shoulder injury. "I think he could be a good cornerback in the future," Green said. "But in all likelihood he'll come back to wide receiver before the end of the year."
Jan. 3, 2000: Jimmy Hitchcock, for one, is not about to mess with success. He made that clear moments after the Vikings had beaten the Detroit Lions on Sunday at the Metrodome, after Robert Tate, the receiver-turned-defensive back, had made six tackles, broken up two passes and made the first interception of his brief defensive career. Hitchcock was asked if he had offered Tate help in his transition.
"We try to give him some technique things, small things," Hitchcock said. "But you don't want to give him too much information. You just let him be the natural athlete that he is. Once you start thinking, I don't think he is going to do as well. He is just back there being an athlete, and I think that's the key to his success."
See, you CAN just turn any athletic player into a cornerback. You never need to worry abou technique. And you certainly don't want to crowd his head with film study or tricks of the trade. That just over-complicates things. Never mind, of course, that the Vikings' season ended that year with St. Louis hanging 49 on them, or the year after with the Giants putting up 41. It just might work for Berrian and Webb.