Three games remain in the 2012 season with a playoff berth a very, very real possibility if the Rams can win all three. That effort begins Sunday as the Rams welcome the Minnesota Vikings to St. Louis. I spoke with Ted Glover from The Daily Norseman to get the inside info on the state of their team.
So we all know Adrian Peterson is at least kind of good at playing football. Maybe. All I'm saying is he has potential. But what should Rams fans prepare to see in the Vikings' pass attack? They're ranked last in yards per game - is that just a function of a low-risk passing scheme that relies on AD to move the chains? Is it more about a lack of talent at QB and receiving options?
Well, the Vikings offense is based around the running game, and with Peterson running and an inexperienced young quarterback, that makes sense. But it's actually a combination of philosophy and lack of talent. Well, let's say inconsistent talent. I think Christian Ponder has talent, as the Vikings early season success showed. But for whatever reason, Ponder seems to have lost confidence in either his ability, his receivers, or both. The Vikings receivers aren't going to set the world on fire, especially with Percy Harvin on IR, but they were good enough early on. All I know is Vikings fans are quickly losing patience with Ponder, and if he doesn't improve soon, the franchise could be in trouble.
Let's talk about the Vikings' offensive line. You've drafted four of the starters in LT Matt Kalil, C John Sullivan, RG Brandon Fusco and RT Phil Loadholt. Has the front office made a public point of drafting offensive lineman and trying to develop chemistry at that point or is it something that's just kind of happened? What's the weak point there?
Yeah, it was public, and it was deliberate. It was an aging unit that needed to be upgraded, and the Vikings have spent the last couple of seasons doing so. Kalil became a necessity when Bryant McKinnie was cut after he employed his Golden Corral off season training regimen, and it's a good, young unit. Fusco is probably the weakest link right now, and he is relieved by Geoff Schwartz from time to time. But he has a lot of talent.
Defensively, you guys have undergone a pretty dramatic personnel overhaul in recent years up front. Talk about the front seven. Are you confident in the Vikes' ability to generate pressure? Who's a player up there that Rams fans might not know about that Vikings fans are content with?
The Vikings do a pretty good job of generating pressure from the front four without a lot of blitzing, although they can be inconsistent at times. Jared Allen is the headliner, but one guy you might not know a lot about is DE Brian Robison, the starter opposite Allen. He's a 6th year guy that's really come on in the last season or two. Another guy is the primary backup at both end spots, Everson Griffen. The Vikings rotate guys in and out pretty frequently on the line, and Griffen is another guy that's quietly having a good year from the primary backup spot.
In the secondary, it looks to be a strong unit when healthy (read: when Chris Cook is healthy). How has the unit performed this year? How would you qualify Harrison Smith's and Josh Robinson's rookie years?
The play of the secondary is night and day from last year, when they were one of the worst units in the history of the world. Smith has been money all year, and Josh Robinson, who still makes rookie mistakes from time to time, is a playmaker and a dramatic upgrade over last season. He still struggles at time in pure man and bump and run as he doesn't re-direct the receiver as well as he can, but he's got good coverage skills and can take the best the opposing team has to offer. They're both going to be good for a long time.
Is Leslie Frazier's tenure as head coach stitched to Christian Ponder's? With the 4-1 run to open the season, it looked like you guys had everything clicking. And while you've faced some tough teams since then, is there concern about Frazier's ability to motivate the roster and make the gameday decisions appropriately?
Yes, as is GM Rick Spielman's tenure. They are all attached at the hip, but it would be tough to justify firing them after getting the team into playoff contention this year. There are a lot of fans that don't think Frazier coaches with 'passion', whatever the hell that means, and that must somehow equate to not being a good motivator and strategist. Bud Grant was about as emotional as a statue, and he did okay, so whatever. I think Frazier is getting better, but most of the frustration is centered around offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. He's called some baffling games this year, but he's also called some fantastic games.
Thanks again to Ted for taking the time to answer these.