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Frazier’s Focus: Stopping The Run

Posted Sep 17, 2010

Throughout his 5-year NFL career, WR Brandon Marshall has developed into an elite WR capable of changing games and deserving of special attention from opposing defenses. His ability to dominate the competition manifests itself in his imposing size (6-4, 230 pound) and far above-average speed.

The Miami Dolphins, perceived as a run-happy offense, stepped out of the box a bit this past offseason to acquire Marshall in a move designed to bolster the aerial attack, which is led by 2nd-year starter Chad Henne. But there’s a funny thing about the Dolphins acquisition of Marshall; it might actually aide Miami’s run game as much as it improves the passing attack.

“Yeah, he will probably open up the run game even more,” Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said on Thursday. “It’s hard to play a lot of single coverage now with Brandon Marshall out there. He is a prolific receiver, well accomplished and he’s been to some Pro Bowls so you have to pay attention to him. It will be a challenge for our corners and we’ll have to rise to the occasion. He’s an outstanding receiver and he’ll probably help their run game.

Injuries to Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin along with a trade that sent Benny Sapp to Miami have left the Vikings a bit thin at CB in the early part of the 2010 season. But the Vikings secondary, including 2nd-year CB Asher Allen and 9-year veteran Lito Sheppard, stepped up to play well against the New Orleans Saints pass-happy attack last weekend. Based on the fact that Frazier’s defense held Drew Brees and Co. in check fairly well, it’s reasonable to think Allen, Sheppard and Winfield can do the same to Miami’s air attack.

With all of that said, Sunday’s contest between the Vikings and Dolphins will still come down to the ground game. Even with Marshall in the fold, Miami will try to establish the run first, through both traditional methods and also via the Wildcat offense. Regardless of what formation the Dolphins use to run the ball, they will employ a tandem of talented RBs to try and get the job done – Ronnie Brown and Rickey Williams.

“They are very good backs,” Frazier acknowledged. “Their offensive line does a very good job as well and they present a lot of problems for defensives the way they can run the ball. It will be a big challenge for our run defense. We will have to stand tall in this ball game in order for our team to be successful.”

The Saints ability to pick up key yardage on the ground last week led to their season-opening victory over the Vikings. It was a rather uncharacteristic development for Frazier’s run defense – giving up yardage late in the game and allowing the opposing team to run out the clock. With the New Orleans game serving as a reminder of how important it is for the Vikings defense to remain stout against the run, Frazier and his guys are looking forward to the challenge that Miami will bring on Sunday.

“We’ve played one game and this game will be a good barometer for us,” Frazier explained. “We need to play well in this ball game against the run, without question. It will tell a lot about our run defense going forward but it’s one game at a time and we need to play [well] from a run defensive standpoint this weekend.”