Eyeing Down the Opponent: Vikings

In week 2 of the NFL regular season, the Buccaneers will travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings.  In their week 1 game against the Chargers, the Vikings had a very similar offensive performance to the Buccaneers.  Although Adrian Peterson rushed for 98 yards on 16 carries, McNabb was only able to pass for 39 yards the entire game!  In the Buccaneers game against the Lions, Freeman passed for 259 yards, but the team rushed for a depressing 56 yards total.  Of those 56 yards rushing, Freeman was responsible for 26.  I realize that the problems both teams faced are actually quite opposite, but here’s what they have in common.  Both the Vikings and the Buccaneers failed to execute maintaining their offensive identity, resulting in becoming a one sided and predictable offense.  Donovan McNabb was unable to complete any passes, therefore relying on the Vikings running game more.  Once the Chargers took away their passing strategy, they were able to close in on the line of scrimmage and give up fewer yards to Adrian Peterson.  The Lions executed a similar strategy against the Buccaneers, holding their ground game to 56 yards and forcing Offensive Coordinator, Greg Olson, to rely on passing to catch up in the game.  The Lions were able to back up their defensive backs because they knew that their defensive line would continue to shut down the running game.

Offensive Strengths

Adrian Peterson All Day!  Peterson will be the greatest challenge the Buccaneers will be faced with on Sunday.  There are only two ways to stop him.  The first is to tackle him before he finds open space.  The defensive line needs to get consistent penetration to keep Peterson distracted from looking downfield for open space.  Mason Foster will face what may be one of his biggest challenges yet.  Look for the Vikings to challenge the rookie middle linebacker in their running game.  The second way to stop Peterson is to swarm him with red and pewter on every play he carries the ball.  Peterson is very elusive and it will take more than one tackler to bring him down.

 

The Vikings also have to reliable tight ends.  Visante Shiancoe has missed out on most practices due to a nagging hamstring injury.  Kyle Rudolph is one of the best tight ends to be drafted this year, and went 43rd overall.  Both tight ends had a very unproductive game last week, but also weren’t targeted.  The Buccaneers struggled against two-tight end formations brought by the Lions last week.  The Vikings could find similar success in deploying a similar strategy

 

Offensive Weakness

The Vikings have a new system in place.  Leslie Frazier was promoted to Head Coach and Bill Musgrave is the new Offensive Coordinator.  Also, Donovan McNabb has taken over the quarterback responsibilities.  So there has been quite a shake up forMinnesota’s offense, and I can imagine there are some challenges in developing some chemistry.  Before you remove your attention from McNabb, remember that although aged and far removed from his prime, McNabb can still win football games.  He may not be the greatest asset in your fantasy league, but the guy has plenty of drive left in his tank.

 

Defensive Strengths

Defensive End, Jared Allen, may not have as good a season as he did in ’08, but he still is Jared Allen.  I personally think that Donald Penn will have a good game this Sunday, and will be able to hold Allen off of Freeman, but rushing to the left could still be challenging.  I also have seen that the Vikings generate good pass rush, but tend to struggle against scrambling quarterbacks.  Let me remind you that Freeman was second in the league behind Michael Vick in rushing yards.  Last game, Allen was used in pass coverage and even intercepted the ball.  The Vikings will likely use him in such way again.

 

The Vikings also have big cornerbacks.  This may pose a challenge because the Bucs don’t have big receivers.  The Buccaneers will have to establish a running game so that the defense plays closer to the line and provides the receivers with room to go deep.

 

Defensive Weaknesses

Linebacker, E.J. Henderson has had some concerns with his knee and may not play.  If he does play, he will be playing through a nagging injury.  This could open up the middle of the field for the Buc’s running backs and tight ends.

Our Strategic Attack

  • The Buccaneers must establish the running game, even if it takes the entire first half to do so.  They must not become a one sided offense the way they did against the Lions.
  • They must put points on the scoreboard early in the game.  Percy Harvin opened the game against the Chargers with a kick return for a touchdown, giving the Vikings the momentum.
  • Donald Penn needs to keep Jared Allen off of Freeman long enough to allow plays to develop.
  • Kellen Winslow and Luke Stocker need to give Freeman a reliable target in the middle, where the Vikings could be weak.
  • The Bucs need to silence the overwhelming crowd noise with a strong first half.
  • Dezmon Briscoe must be an adequate replacement for injured Sammie Stroughter.
  • The defensive line must dominate in the trenches to create obstacles for Adrian Peterson.
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