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Gabbing With VikingsGab, Part 2

Again, we continue our war of words with Adam of VikingsGab. This time ask him all the questions you wanted asked. Thank you to everyone who left comments or tweeted me questions! Enjoy!

SaintsGab: The Vikings have lost their last three road games, how come? And how will playing on the road affect them this week?

VikingsGab: I think that each game was lost for individual reasons. Many people would tell you that playing on grass slows down a Vikings team that is largely a speed-based team that thrives at home and on turf.

This game will challenge the Vikings in a number of ways. A loud crowd can hamper communications on offense and also cause penalties. The defense needs to find a way to amp themselves up without the home crowd to feed them the energy.

Overall, the “Big Game” aspect doesn’t scare me. The Vikings have had to deal with the “Big Game” on a number of occasions this year. Quite a few prime time appearances, Brett’s debut as a Viking, Brett’s home debut as a Viking, Brett’s first game against his former team, and Brett’s return to Green Bay. I think that game in Green Bay will be tough for New Orleans fans to match (not volume wise) and the Vikes have a good deal of experience for dealing with intense environments.

SG: Adrian Peterson has not had a 100 yard rushing the game in over two months? Is he struggling or has the offense evolved as to where he doesn’t have to necessarily have a big game?

VG: I honestly don’t think Peterson is struggling, as Jonathan Vilma said this week, he is still the best back in the league. Defenses are simply “picking their poison” by opting to but 8 or 9 guys in the box to stop him. This opens things up for Favre and company. Three of Favre’s four touchdowns came off of playaction last week against the Cowboys, which just goes to show how much respect defenses are giving Peterson.

One thing that has gone unnoticed is that Peterson has become a complete back this year. He has fixed the problems he has had with short yardage situations, pass catching, and pass blocking. He is turning into a very well-rounded running back and I would say he is even better than last year.

SG: Darren Sharper has become one of the most popular Saints both in the locker room and amongst fans. What did the Vikings see in him and why did they release him?

VG: First, the Vikings didn’t release him. He was a free agent and he was not interested in re-signing with the Vikings. Upon leaving, he felt that the defense the Vikings run is too rigid and doesn’t allow him to ball hawk like he does.

I think he had valid reasons for leaving and I think the Vikings had valid reasons for letting him.

The Vikings defense can be downright dominating when the players execute and tackle properly as we saw last week. So I don’t think the coaches were willing to adjust the game plans for Sharper and he wasn’t really willing to keep playing in that scheme. A mutual decision. Given his age, Vikings fans were not too disappointed to see the team move on.

SG: Who or what matchup scares you?

VG: Drew Brees scares me as he should anybody. Our defense has, at times, made guys like Matt Moore look like Pro Bowlers. He’s a machine with plenty of weapons surrounding him. Without him, the Saints don’t scare me one bit.

SG: Which Viking could be an X-factor in this game?

VG: Whenever someone asks me this question I always think through it very carefully and then arrive at the same conclusion. Ryan Longwell.

As Saints fans know, kickers can make it or break it. Longwell has been money for us all year long and if this game is as close as everyone thinks it might be, then Longwell fills me with great confidence that the Vikings can win.

SG: What are the Vikings going to do to slow down the Saints air attack?

VG: For the Vikings, it all starts at the line of scrimmage.

The pass rush is an essential part of the way we play defense. If we can effectively take away the saints running game and force them into 3rd and long situations then that’s when our pass rush really earns their money. Forcing Brees to make bad throws will not be an easy task, but if they churn out the performance we saw last week then it could very well be a game changing play from our front four that determines the game.

Second to that, I think we will take a page from the Cowboys playbook. The Cowboys corners disrupted your pass attack by being very physical with receivers immediately after the snap. It’s on tape, the Vikings have seen it, and I think they’ll try to duplicate it. With some of the most physical corners in the game, the Vikings might just find some success.

SG: Both teams have been battling through some injuries at key positions. How will this affect what the Vikings will on defense? Offense?

VG: Yes, the Vikings have picked quite the time to get bitten by the injury bug.

On defense Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, Ray Edwards, and Benny Sapp are listed as questionable. If any one of these guys can’t play on Sunday then it is a huge blow. With that being said, the Vikings have very strong depth along the defensive line and will not hesitate to lean on guys like Jimmy Kennedy, Fred Evans, and Brian Robison. These three guys are rotated into the lineup on a regular basis anyways. Benny Sapp has turned into a surprisingly good corner, but using a Karl Paymah or Asher Allen in his place would not be devastating. If all these players have to sit out, then the Vikings will be in real trouble.

Percy Harvin’s absence would be troublesome on offense as he has turned into one of Favre’s favorite targets on third downs. Also, he lines up in diverse sets and his presence keeps a defense guessing. A guy like Darius Reynaud or Greg Lewis would not be quite as versatile or dangerous.

SG: How has Favre changed the culture of the Minnesota Vikings?

VG: I don’t think Favre has changed the culture at all. He’s changed the way they play the game but not the way they approach the game.

Favre, and the addition of Percy Harvin, have turned a previously one tracked offense into one with many dimensions. He has been able to utilize the fact that defenses focus so much attention on stopping the run.

His ability to hard count, manage the clock, run the no huddle, audible, and just be the field general out there has meant a lot to the success of the offense.

SG: This is Brad Childress’ first NFC Championship. Sean Payton has been there as both a head and assistant coach. Do you think experience will matter?

VG: Experience always matters but in the end this is a football game that is no difference than the one in Week One. The field is the same size, it’ll be played in 60 minutes, and the same number of players are used. The general philosophy will be the same.

Our coaches are very different in that Payton is very good at making in-game adjustments while Childress tends to stick with his game plan and not let the other team change what they want to do.

I’ll be honest here, I think Payton is the better coach and gives the Saints a certain advantage there.

SG: What must the Vikings do to win?

VG: The Vikings have a few keys to the game. The first is to establish the run game in an effort to gain yards, control the clock, keep Brees off the field, and tire down the Saints defense.

Second, they have to put pressure on Brees utilizing very few blitzing schemes. The front four has to stop the run and force passing situations. This combined with physical play from the corners is our best shot at derailing Brees.

Third, a quick start is essential to keeping the crowd as much out of the game as possible.

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4 Responses to “Gabbing With VikingsGab, Part 2”

  1. […] Gabbing With VikingsGab, Part 2 » Saints GabOverall, the “Big Game” aspect doesn’t scare me. The Vikings have had to deal with the “Big Game” on a number of occasions this year. Quite a few prime time appearances, Br… […]

  2. […] Gabbing With VikingsGab, Part 2 » Saints GabOverall, the “Big Game” aspect doesn’t scare me. The Vikings have had to deal with the… […]

  3. […] To read Adam’s full thoughts on the game, click here. […]

  4. […] To read Adam’s full thoughts on the game, click here. […]

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