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Favre too much for Vikings defense
Posted: Thursday October 01, 1998 10:14 AM
I need to start with a heartfelt apology. Last Sunday on CNN/SI's "NFL Preview," during our X's and O's segment, I telestrated over a still shot of the 49ers offense what the Atlanta Falcons needed to do defensively.
I sarcastically drew up a defense with 14 men, implying that the Falcons would be able to stop the 49ers only if they used 14 players. I was wrong. It would have taken at least 15.
I'll be in Green Bay for Monday night's matchup between the Packers and the Vikings. The thing I like best about being at a game in person is I can follow the one-on-one battles.
Here are my three key one-on-one matchups for this battle of the unbeatens. The biggest is that of the Rev. Reggie White, the NFL's all-time sack leader, vs. the Vikes' right tackle, Korey Stringer. I mentioned biggest because Reggie checks in at about 305 to 310 pounds, while Stringer tips the scales at about 360 pounds.
Reggie loves to use his jackhammer move. It starts with a simple bull rush right down the middle of the tackle. Reggie gets his pads under that of the tackle and then uses his right forearm to toss the poor little offensive tackle to his left as he bears in on the QB. Stringer is too big and to aggressive for this move.
Stringer is your typical right tackle in that he is a better run blocker than pass protector. Stringer should normally have trouble with a small speed rusher like the Chiefs' Derrick Thomas, a guy who can beat you around the corner or with an up and under move. The question is can White, who will play only 35 to 40 snaps for Fritz Shurmer, conjure up some of his old speed moves.
The second matchup pits Vikings receiver Cris Carter vs. Packers defensive back Tyrone Williams. No one is better at catching the 5-yard dink and dump routes than Carter. The Vikings offense is a combination of dump passes and alley-oops to the big three -- Carter, Jake Reed and rookie Randy Moss. The reason Carter is so good underneath is terrific strength and body control to bounce off defenders and still make the grab in traffic. Don't get me wrong -- Carter doesn't use his strength to push off illegally like Michael Irvin. Carter can catch the ball an inch off the turf or go up for the ball like a rebound.
Carter's weakness is his lack of flat-out speed. Williams has plenty of speed to shadow Carter. Williams must become Carter's hip, side and front pockets. Williams played his college ball at Nebraska so he'll need that weight room strength to bump Carter all over the field. Williams' job is to take away Randall Cunningham's first read in Carter and make Randall look for to his second option.
The final matchup is Brett Favre vs. the Vikings defense. I know, I said one-on-one matchups. But the way Favre plays, everybody gets a shot at him. Favre will scramble to find an open receiver, testing each member of the defensive line to stay in their rush lanes in attempt to keep him in the pocket.
Favre is just another great QB when he's forced to stay in the pocket, but legendary on the move when he makes something out of nothing. When Favre does break the pocket, the linebackers face their toughest option: come up to stop his run and he'll find the seam behind you.
Stay back and let him cross the line of scrimmage and then make the tackle. Sure, you'll lay the big hit on him then. After the play, Favre will laugh, head-slap you and pump his fist. He's like that bunny that keeps going and going.
The secondary is tested each time Favre drops backs to pass. His anticipation and arm strength are second to no one in the league. Take away his best receiver with coverage and he'll read that, and rip you apart where you're weak. Who is his go-to guy anyway?
Favre spreads the ball around so well. Last week against Carolina, he used every receiver in a green jersey. I was thinking about taking my old No. 80 out of the closet. Nah, he doesn't need an extra guy. I'll take Favre vs. Minnesota's 11 or 14 or 15.
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