As usual, I am excited to see my Lions play this coming Sunday. They have an opportunity before them rarely seen in years past against Him. Our record against him has been stated enough times and frankly I am tired of seeing it. We know of the past, our wounds run deep but we are still standing and our devotion, belief and hope have slowed the bleeding. We will stand strong Sunday, we all know that, but can we manage that ever so elusive Win?
Here are some of my thoughts on our game Sunday against those that would deny us our prize.
On offense, we will have to establish....
1) Stretch their Defense vertically early.
You were expecting more than one thing on that list right? Nope. I fully expect the Vikes to come out in the same Defense we have seen from every other team we have played for the last year plus. They are going to blanket Calvin and let the rest of the game come to them. This is an mindset we can exploit but it is going to take some balls on our part to carry it out.
This is what I would like to see on the very first play of the game, surprise them.
A two tight end set, Best in the backfield, CJ on one side and Johnson on the other(wish it was Nate). This should be a max protect situation with a minimum of blocking chips from the two TEs. The play will start with a play action hand off to best. Their Defense is going to expect us to run early. Use it to our advantage. Following the play action, Best either chooses to stay in and pass block or slide out into the flat on CJ's side thus drawing defenders closer to him out on said flat, they are also going to expect screens and dump offs to be common. CJ and Hill need to sell a quick pass with a double move and a pump fake. Between the play action and double move their defense should be selling out much closer to the line of scrimmage than at the start of the play. Now throw the ball to CJ deep. I don't care if he is covered. I don't care if you throw the ball out of bounds. Throw the ball to CJ deep and force them to respect the deep ball. If the play actually succeeds, we have managed to do something we have not all season. Force another team to play the whole field against us defensively. If it fails, they still have to honor the deep pass. This results in more underneath room for our TEs, RBs and hopefully quicker receivers to cause some damage later in the game and when they do start to creep up to the line, we can go deep on them again, thus keeping them off balance.
Minny's Defense is potent and is a clear and evident road block to wasting away our road losing streak. If we come out aggressive and play off of and to our weapons, we can at least make them work to defend us.
On defense, we will have to establish....
1) A potent and consistent pass rush.
You were expecting more than one thing on this list too right? Nope. Minny knows what our Defensive line can do and they are going to be prepared. I have heard people suggest that we should blitz early and often, hoping to force Him to make faster and ideally mistake prone decisions. This is where we can cause some havoc. Mix up the blitz. Come from different directions and with different timing. Peterson could prove to be an asset here. When are we going to cut him loose and let him get after it? Levy will be back this week, I think the time is now. The Saints, unlike last year, limited the Vikes offense by not blitzing. We are not nearly as good defensively as they are but we do have weapons. Any blitz should be a run stopping blitz. AP should be a huge part of their plan this week. We need to limit him as much as possible. Our corners will have to play closer if not bump and run coverage on blitzing downs but they have to play the short pass. They will have to trust that our guy are going to get to him before they fall off coverage. We will get burned but that is a whole hell of a lot better than getting dinked and dunked all day long while he "revives" his season.
Going back over this post, one thing seems to be a constant. We need to play to win. We need to play with nothing to fear. We need to play aggressive, smack you in the midsection football (wanted to say mouth but those days are dead). If we come out tentative and scared I fully expect and fear a very long day for those of us that still find joy in our Lions.