Thursday AM Notebook: Facing the Read Option

Posted Oct 10, 2013

With the Vikings coming off a bye and with the Josh Freeman acquisition, we’ve already had a busy week of Vikings coverage on the website. There’s much more to get to in terms of analyzing the Vikings-Panthers matchup, but before we get to all of that let’s empty out the notebook from the early part of this week…

Frazier on Robison Contract
First word of the contract extension signed by Brian Robison on Wednesday came from Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier, who announced the news during his customary Wednesday press conference. Frazier and Robison arrived in Minnesota the same year – Frazier took over as defensive coordinator under Brad Childress when Mike Tomlin left to take the Steelers head coaching position, and Robison arrived via a fourth-round pick in the draft.

Here’s what Frazier had to say about Robison’s place on this team: “As an organization, we are very pleased with the way Brian has performed from the day that we drafted him and the way that he’s conducted himself both on and off the field. He’s been a tremendous asset to what we are trying to get accomplished so it’s an exciting time for us, exciting time for him and his family as well and congratulations to Brian. It’s good for our football team to get him locked up and get him under contract.”

Expecting Read-Option
The Vikings will face one of the most dynamic offensive threats in the NFL on Sunday in Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. At 6-5, 245 pounds, Newton is strong and can stand tall in the pocket to deliver throws in the face of pressure, but he also has the athleticism to break the pocket when he senses pressure to extend plays and gain yardage with his legs. In fact, Newton has over 1,500 yards and 23 scores on the ground in his career.

Given Newton’s ability to run the football as well as throw it, the Vikings will be ready to see plenty of read-option on Sunday.

“We expect to see quite a bit,” Frazier said on Wednesday. “I think they ran 14 snaps a week ago against Arizona, so it’ll be by far the most that we’ve seen this season so we’ll spend quite a bit of time working on it and trying to prepare for it. It can be difficult to defend but we have to put the work and hopefully do a good job.”

Simpson’s Fast Start
Wide receiver Jerome Simpson is off to the best start to a season in his career. Through four games he has 19 receptions for 342 yards, which works out to a per-catch average of 18.0 yards and has him tied with teammate Greg Jennings for sixth in the NFL in that category.

What will be interesting to see going forward is how teams adjust to Simpson’s increased production. Will teams continue to stack up against Adrian Peterson and focus coverage on Jennings, which will yield more one-on-one matchups for Simpson to exploit? Or will Simpson see more dynamic coverage coming his way?

Super Bowl 52 in MN?
One interesting and Vikings-relevant piece of news coming from this week’s ownership meetings in Washington, DC is that Minnesota has been selected as one of three finalists along with Indianapolis and New Orleans to host Super Bowl 52 on February 4, 2018. The decision will come in May of 2014.

Minnesota has been host to one Super Bowl – back in 1992 when the Washington Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills.

London Not Calling for Vikings in 2014
The Vikings will not play in London in back-to-back years. Another piece of news coming from the owners’ meetings is that the NFL will add a third international game in 2014 and that the three hosts for those games will be Atlanta, Jacksonville and Oakland. The Vikings are not scheduled to play Jacksonville or Oakland next year, and they are schedule to play the Falcons at home, so that means there will be no Vikings game in London in 2014.


NFL Will Think Pink This Month
Breast cancer affects millions of Americans annually, including many members of the NFL family. Building on the success of previous years’ campaigns, the NFL will recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month in a prominent way beginning this week. During October, NFL coaches, officials and players will wear pink equipment, from hats to shoes to sweatbands. This apparel will be autographed by coaches and players and then auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting Breast Cancer Awareness efforts.

There will be many other game-day elements designed to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, including on-field pink ribbon stencils, pink goal post pads and pink ribbon decals on game balls. The NFL’s Breast Cancer Awareness campaign is called “A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives.” This campaign is designed to encourage annual mammograms for women over 40.

To learn more about Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the NFL’s “A Crucial Catch” campaign, visit

Kalil Family Reunion Day
It will be a family reunion on Sunday at Mall of America Field. Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil will host older brother Ryan Kalil and the Panthers, and before the game Matt and Ryan’s sister, Danielle Kalil, will take the field and perform the National Anthem. Danielle is a country/pop music singer/songwriter and model, and she is currently working to become an opening act, signing with a record label, and recording her first album. With the same kind of determination and talent that led her father and two brothers to succeed in professional football, Danielle is likely one to watch in terms of upcoming artists in the music industry.