Ah, it's good to have football back isn't it? With the interest my "scouting reports" of other teams garnered last year, I have decided to make these posts for each week during this season. This week I will be covering the first week in pre-season where we will kick off against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings will be entering this year with McNabb under center in order to "keep the seat warm" for thier own rookie QB, Christian Ponder. The Vikings fell short of making the playoffs due to a decline in the play of the defensive line and offensive ineptitude during the majority of the season. The Viking DLine has been the cornerstone to that defense since the early 70's and they were not as disruptive as they had been in years past, this likely caused their secondary to be exposed and led to a good portion of their losses last year. Remember, this is a pre-season review so the players I am about to mention may not see significant playing time during this game. So without further adieu, here are the Vikings players to watch:
Ponder was the Vikings first round pick this year and he is already showing the leadership necessary to be a franchise QB in the NFL. He is coming off a shoulder injury in college which left many people questioning his arm strength prior to the draft. Ponder strength; however, is not his deep ball; but his ability with play action passes. Ponder also has an elite back behind him that will make the threat of running the ball appear much more real to our linebackers and safeties. However, Ponder lacks the deep threat in the passing game with the loss of Pro-Bowler Sidney Rice. He will have to rely on Percy Harvin, Visathe Shiancoe, and rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph for much of his passing attack. Harvin is more of a slot receiver and has had problems staying healthy in the past. His other receiving targets this year are the special teamers Greg Lewis, Hank Baskett, and Greg Camarillio on the outside. The key to Ponder is the blitz you will need to rattle the cage of ponder in hopes he makes a mistake and force him to make poor decisions leading to turnovers.
Harvin is a beast of a return man. He is an absolute terror every time he touches the ball. Percy is a guy who is best suited in the slot. He is not big enough or physical enough to go against a teams number one corner week in and week out. However he provides a DeSean Jackson effect from that slot giving the Vikings an explosive game breaker that can take the ball to the house any time he touches the ball. The reason why Percy hadn't reached the same level DeSean Jackson is at is because of his health issues. He has a problem with migraines that he has been having since he was small. These migraines have caused him to miss a number of games which prevents him from becoming an elite reviver in the NFL. The key to stopping Harvin will be to match up a speedy corner on him nd to cover him in the slot. Either Jason McCourty or rookie Tommie Campbell with maybe some over the top help from Robert Johnson or Michael Griffin (depending on who's in at the time.
Kyle Rudolph & Visanthe Shiancoe
The tight end, our old nemisis. It's time to see if the Titans linebackers can finally stop a tight end from absolutely destroying the defense. Rudolph was a game breaker at Notre Dame and will be learning from one of the game's best tight ends in Visanthe Shiancoe. It's time to see whether Jerry Gray's new system can solve our defensive woes because if we continue to let tight ends run free against our defense, then we have no chance to win this game.
Do I really need to explain this one? This guy is an absolute beast of a back. He's has that 10 yard burst that all the greats have. He can get on the opposing linebackers in a blink of an eye and either outrun them or run them over. He has had a problem of fumbling and he doesn't have the greatest hands in the world, but that hasn't stopped him from being elected to Pro-Bowls and All-Pro teams. The best strategy to stop Peterson is to load the box, he is to big of a homerun threat to be allowed to go unchecked.
Mullet man had a down year last year, but that comes with the infamy of the season he put up last year. Couple that with the decline in play with the Williams Wall and being slided to by the offensive line and you have a recipe for a down year. The 70's rocker has always been a dominant pass rusher since he broke into the league with the Chiefs, but what has gone by the wayside is his dominance as a run stopper. I think he has been the best 4-3 defensive end to play against the run since Michael Strahan. He sets the edge almost flawlessly and doesn't give the opposing running back anywhere to go. The Hogtier will have his hands full when he goes up against David Stewart, one of the best right tackles in the NFL.
There are some of the players that I think will be the most dangerous players for the Titans to handle. So please let me know how I did or mention some players that I did not mention and tell me why they will make such a difference. Please vote in the poll below, this will let me know if I should keep making these things or not. Here's to a good season guys and thanks for reading!