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Additional Minnesota Viking Commentary

In the NFL, it is almost sacrilegious to speak about anything other than your next opponent, due to the time constraints in preparing for that opponent, but we are on a bye week where both players & coaches are supposed to take the time to recharge their cells ... to get back to some sort of normalcy in their lives, however doing so might mean losing out or having to deal with missed opportunities.  It wasn't long ago where a very successful sales manager described his mothers work ethic as the main achievement in his success.  What it came down to is that although he had a stack of papers in his in-basket, he reasoned that he would sleep better if he attacked that stack before going to bed knowing he's accomplished a major chunk of it before letting his hair down.  No he didn't have much hair left at the time.   
Since we are on our bye, it would be prudent to note our most difficult up coming opponents and begin to formulate our plan of action ... even if it is just in the back of our minds.  Said another way ... there is a reason why Coach Zimmer has done so well versus Belichick's cheating crew.  Don't think that for one moment that to beat this franchise Belichick is going to have to cheat because after all, if your not try to cheat then your not trying to win the game..

Last Sunday night versus the Packers, Tom Brady's put-on an opening sequence that was nothing less than a league-wide clinic in hyper-drive.  It is without doubt that the purpose was to broadcast a message league-wide.  The Patriots are on another level, and after viewing the disheveled Packer's defense, there was absolutely nothing that could be done to stop that offensive Juggernaut.  The no huddle discipline (control over mind body & soul) demonstrated was a marvel to watch as the Patriot's offense was in their set, ready to snap the ball before a linebacker could find, pickup & then put his mouthpiece into his mouth.  Mouths throughout the league were agape after this astonishing feat (Special note, if your using a mouthpiece, you better consider having it attach to your face mask).   By comparison, in navel bombardment, the enemy could get off a salvo before you'd be able to load your gun.  Although this pace would not exist throughout the game, it quickly recorded a 7 point lead, and it also influenced the complete psychology over the game.

Now that Mike Zimmer has had the opportunity to observe this feat ... there now remains only one question ... "Can head coach Mike Zimmer formulate a response to the latest evolution under Tom Brady"? 

Everyone knows that all rosters are not the same (equal) just as each organizations brain trusts vary widely.   In regard to Mike Zimmer, he has a set roster of how he plans to utilize his roster, but he has to know that his tried & true defense will not work against Belichick's latest evolution.  The answer Coach Zimmer is looking for may lie in our prior failures which will provide the answers to his dilemma.  It's about the match-ups & an understanding that the Patriots are now on the cutting edge of bringing today's "end game" first & by tossing the league an incredible curve ball.  Flip is only too aware of this concept ... but Flip has had to come to grips with the fact that these Vikings do not include Tom Brady on its roster ... so we clearly realize that our offense is nowhere near Brady's level yet ... in fact we're still a bunch of newlyweds by comparison.  Keep in mind that Cook & Cousin's haven't even played 3 full games together but in time the league is about to find out how dangerous this team really is.  If Coach Zimmer finds a way to execute & evolve his defensive plan of action... he has a chance to end Tom Brady & expose that franchise before it own home crowd & upon that hallowed sandlot.  Doing this on their home court will go along way at opening a door that's been closed to this franchise since the bicentennial season.      

So what do we know?  Versus the Vikings, there is no way that Tom Brady is going to rely upon the long ball, which isn't his history anyway.  How many times have you heard people complain about Tom Brady dinking & dunking you to death?  Also, the Patriots will clearly not win any game by running the ball (even though our own draft pick Patterson looks tough, he's only of limited use).   What is odd is that the Patriots opening series began with very successful runs but that was most likely a rouse as thereafter Tom Brady took control.    

To counteract the Patriots, we need to consider the match up and adjust our personal to the sequence ... and that has to happen without substitution.  The preparation needs to begin immediately with the thought of facing Belichick's immediate perfect no-huddle offense.  It is here that we need to identify our plan of attack.

As of late, Coach Zimmer has been very successful attacking the focal point of the exchange.  This is the direct benefit of the brilliant assembly of his defensive personnel as well as the benefit of developing that personnel having to face the continuous onslaught of adversity. 

Although Anthony Barr is an integral part of Mike Zimmer's defense, we must be very careful when he is deployed versus the Patriots.  If we learned anything versus the Ram's, it was that Barr was a liability in coverage, whereas Kendrick's, being a tackling machine, has become integral to every defensive concept.     

Zimmer's Hybrid Defense
What we have is a very seasoned rotation at safety of Smith, Iloka, Harris & the missile seeking destroyer Sendejo, which now also very clearly includes what has evolved into Zimmer' coverage hybrids of Kearse & Alexander.  These are the key pieces to attack Belichick's focal point of the exchange.  Is there any doubt that the best spot to tackle Paterson or Gronk is when they've bled their energy (the exchange point) or would you rather tackle them running at full speed?  In other words, the key eleven defensive personnel to face Belichick's no-huddle offense begins with Kendricks in the middle, using two safeties, plus a hybrid (or another 3rd safety), using three corners Rhodes & Waynes as his shut-down corners with Hill on the rotation (in places of Hughes).  Holton Hill may be the key in coverage versus the Patriot #1 threat (Edelman). The final piece of Coach Zimmer's masterpiece is to insert Joseph to in the center, using his three (3) defensive ends to feast on any Tom Brady attempt to chuck it way down the field.  Although Robison is no longer with us, what was learned from using Coach Zimmer's three defensive ends sets makes the combination of Weatherly, Griffen & Hunter the most lethal combination in the league.   Before the league year began it was thought that the most lethal combination resided in LA with their two defensive tackles but what's about to be unleashed will be a marvel by comparison.   The key ... it is physically impossible for Tom Brady to run out of the inside-out stunt filled pocket (Mike Zimmer's  gift wrapped lethal invitation).         

The concept of using beefcake on defense, forgoing point skills, to counteract the size of both Gronk & Patterson is obsolete as compared to Coach Zimmer point attack at near zero velocity.  This was clearly on display when Kamara was blown up by Smith thereby removing him as an offensive threat.  This concept becomes even more lethal imposing the experience of a heat seeking missile into that backfield exchange.  Everyone of Zimmer's hybrids, safeties & corners can bring down anything as they use almost flawless tackling technique, where they are willing to give up the yards in favor of establishing position by stopping RAC.  Preventing the home run is paramount as this defense has the chance to stop anything but it has no chance once they've touched home plate.  Recognizing that Brady's home runs come from his feedings, of passes along & behind the line of scrimmage (dinks & dunks), will go along way to understanding the flaw of using any base defensive set to stop the run.  If Winfield taught us anything it is that DB's are much more dangerous in generating negative plays than any linebacker (less maybe LT) where DB's can tackle any running threat too. 

{3) Cover 1 safety working with Rhodes & Waynes, (4) plus Joseph & three DE's nullifies long ball Gordon & Cooks.  Edelman nullified by (2) Hill & underneath rover safety.  Gronk nullified by (1) hybrid & rover safety.  Tackling machine Kendricks roams the center.   With the great risk of utilizing your corps ... comes great rewards.     

The normal rotation, especially along the defensive line will ensue as the game evolves but coming to grips with Barr being a liability versus both the Ram's & Patriot's will go a long way toward shutting those offenses down.  Barr has both his value & purpose, especially versus Kansas City all world running back but it is in the clear understanding of the defensive point of attack that will tip the balance into your favor.    

Imagine the Patriots trying to run the ball the entire first half, without the lead.  The other key axiom is that Tom Brady never throws the long ball into coverage, unless he absolutely has no other choice.  Xavier Rhodes & Trae Waynes might be quaking in their boots having the prospect of facing Cooks & Gordon in Boston's nest of cheaters but Mike Zimmer's Weatherly, Griffen & Hunter might have a message for a 42 year old legend.  Tommy boy ... you don't have to give us a thing ... we'll just take it from you.       

The Ram's have no chance of doing this, as their defense is a sieve.  Although Drew Bree's is a marvel ... his team is not.  

The Viking Ghost Writer
Date: November 6, 2018