With the Eagles and Vikings game being delayed, I had some extra time to talk to Jason Hannah of TheVikingShip.net about Tuesday’s matchup.
We were able to discuss the Vikings disappointing season, the play of Brett Favre, and where each team will have an offensive and defensive advantage during the game. In the end, Jason gives me a final prediction on the game.
BirdsFan: The Vikings started off very poorly this year. If you could attribute the slow start on one thing, what would it be?
TheVikingShip: If I was just answering in the short term, meaning the first two games, I would’ve blamed Brett Favre and the fact that he didn’t show up to training camp. Last year he took two games to really get going, but the Vikings started out with the Browns and the Lions. This year he took two games to get going, but the Vikings started out with the defending champion Saints, and the Dolphins, who are very tough on the road.
But I think my real answer to that question would be the Vikings lack of Sidney Rice for the first 9 games. Rice is such a good route runner, has such great hands, and is such a great target in the end zone that I don’t think the Vikings ever established a good replacement for him.
BF: With the Vikings season being such a disappointment, did you get to a point this season where you would have rather benched Brett Favre and start evaluating for next season?
TVS: There were times that I was frustrated with Favre’s play and wanted him benched for that reason, but in reality, he gave the Vikings a MUCH better chance at winning than either of the other quarterbacks on the roster. The Vikings weren’t officially eliminated from the playoffs until after their Week 14 loss against the Giants, so until that point I wanted Brett Favre to play. I didn’t, however, really see the point in him playing in the Week 15 game against Chicago, and would have rather got a chance to see a full game with rookie QB Joe Webb under center.
BF: Looking ahead to this week’s game, what are the odds of Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson playing?
TVS: I think Adrian Peterson will play. He missed last week’s game against the Bears, but the official reason was because of a bruised thigh. I think he’ll be okay with over two weeks for it to heal.
As for Brett Favre, if he could have kept himself on the bench for the Chicago game he would have been ready for Philly. I can’t imagine him playing after suffering a concussion a week ago. He’s listed as doubtful on the injury report, but he really has no good reason to risk it by going on the field. He should instead make sure he’s healthy enough to play in week 17 in Detroit, which will likely be his final game.
BF: In your eyes, what will the Vikings try to do defensively in order to slow down Michael Vick?
TVS: I think you’ll see the outside linebackers, Chad Greenway and Ben Leber, hanging a little closer to home than usual. The Vikings will trust their defensive tackles (Kevin and Pat Williams) to do their part of plugging up the middle, but Vick will become dangerous to the Vikings when he rolls out. The Giants and the Bears already showed that the Vikings are vulnerable to runs to the outside, so when you have to factor in a QB with the ability to run like Vick, they’re going to have to leave some extra help.
I also think you’ll see a lot of blitz packages from the Vikings. Since Brad Childress was fired after Week 11, the Vikings have been more aggressive with their blitzes. I think they will want Vick to have to get rid of the ball quickly so that he doesn’t have time to try to extend plays with his feet.
BF: On Tuesday, where will the Vikings have an advantage on offense? On defense?
TVS: The Vikings will be starting a quarterback named Joe Webb that the Eagles probably don’t know much about. Webb reminds me of a very young and raw Michael Vick. He has crazy arm strength and in the preseason showed a tremendous ability to make huge plays with his feet. The fact that the Eagles have to think about containing a mobile quarterback will likely help Adrian Peterson in the running game quite a bit. It could potentially be a case of Philadelphia having to taste a bit of their own medicine.
On defense the Vikings have a defensive line that has potential to be a nightmare for quarterbacks. Three of their four starters are “usuals” in the Pro Bowl (Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and Pat Williams), and the two guys that have been sharing time in the fourth spot in recent weeks (Brian Robison and Ray Edwards) are great pass rushers AND run stoppers. The d-line, like the rest of the team, got off to a slow start this year, but they’ve been playing much better in recent weeks, and that will hopefully be able to take Vick off of his game a little.
BF: Where will the Eagles have an advantage on offense? On defense?
TVS: On offense the Eagles have Michael Vick, who is having the greatest year of his career by far. That’s a huge advantage by itself. Jackson will be tough for the Vikings to handle at wide receiver as well, because the Vikings have had numerous injury problems at the cornerback position all year long, and are currently missing the guys that should be filling the #2 and #3 spots on the depth chart.
On defense, if the Eagles are smart they will send all kinds of complicated looks at Joe Webb. Webb has tons of raw talent and has the ability to turn into a good NFL quarterback, but he’s extremely young right now and has spent most of the year as the Vikings emergency quarterback. Last week against the Bears Webb had trouble reading the defense and picking up blitzes, and I don’t think he’ll really have improved that much in a week of practice. So yes… even though I think Webb could potentially be an offensive advantage for the Vikings, I think ultimately he’ll be a defensive advantage for the Eagles.
BF: What player could be a potential x-factor for the Vikings on Tuesday?
TVS: Joe Webb. The game really rests on him. If he can figure out a way to use his athleticism, he will keep the Vikings in the game by making plays himself and allowing Peterson to make plays. If he can’t react fast enough, the Vikings are doomed.
BF: Give me a score prediction.
TVS: As much as I would like to be a homer and pick the Vikes, I know better than that. Eagles win easily by a score of 42-14