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The problems with the Vikings

This is certainly not the story I wanted to write tonight. The Vikings went into this game against the Panthers sitting in great position to at least get a first round bye in the playoffs, and possibly be able to get home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Vikings needed to stop the Panthers running game and put enough pressure on the very inexperienced quarterback, Matt Moore to throw the ball and make mistakes. On paper is looked fairly easy. The defense started out good, but spending almost 40 minutes on the field took its toll.

The Vikings running game was never a threat to the Panthers. 41 total rushing yards by Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, against a Panther defense that is rated 26 in the league, is embarrassing. What is the problem with the running game? Losing Matt Birk is a big part of it. There is no doubt that he was one of the best centers in the league.

The job of the center is much more than snapping the ball. The center plays a major role in opening holes and lanes for the backs to run through. The center is key in moving the defensive lineman sideways to create holes. Who is the Vikings center? Most people probably don’t know. How many times have you heard John Sullivan mentioned for making a great block, or opening a hole for Peterson to run through? I can’t remember any this year. Conversely, how often did you hear about and see clips of Matt Birk making great blocks and opening big holes? Not only did he open holes in the middle, he pulled both to the left or the right and opened holes. The offensive line needs to give Favre more time to throw, which also leads back to the center.

When the panthers shut down the run and made Favre start passing most of the time, Julius Peppers turned it on and had a fantastic game pressuring Favre and causing him to be hurried and off balance for most of the game.

If the Vikings are going to go anywhere in the playoffs, it is crucial that they fix the problem with the running game. I know the coaching staff knows how critical the running game is, and how important it is to fix the problem. The Vikings have one of the top 3 backs in the league in Peterson, and an excellent backup in Chester Taylor, but neither of them is going to run over 360 pound defensive lineman. They need to have holes to run through.

Looking ahead the Vikings need to go into Chicago and beat up on a very mediocre Bears team. Then come back to the dome and finish off a Giants team that can be very good. The possibility of home field through the playoffs is gone but a first week bye is very important for the Vikings to hold on to. If they fix the problems with the running game, the talent is there for the rest of the game to come together and be a threat in the playoffs.

Steve Pease

Read more article by steve on Health and fitness here.

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