The week of practice is over and the Vikings are set for their game this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Here's what we learned this week about the Vikings as they prepared for Week 4.
Anthony Barr is a PerfectionistVikings rookie linebacker Anthony Barr is off to an impressive start. He leads the team in tackles with 32, and already has a sack and pass defensed. In his first three games, Barr played in 88% (St. Louis), 100% (New England) and 97% (New Orleans) of the Vikings defensive snaps.
But Barr remains a tough critic of himself, telling reporters this week that he believes there's a lot upon which he can improve. It sounds like the Vikings may have a perfectionist rookie linebacker on their hands.
"No doubt about it," Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards said. "I think he is, I think he knows there's a lot of things coming in and out of games that he can get better at and it's going to come with experience. That's our human nature, we look at the things that we did wrong and try to go out and improve them from day-to-day. That's what we're trying and it's a good trait to have. He's in here working every day to correct those mistakes from the game and just to keep working on his craft and his toolbox of different things we're asking him to do."
Vikings Anticipating No-Huddle from AtlantaThe Falcons are known for using a no-huddle offense from time-to-time, a tactic that can keep a defense in a bad personnel grouping against an offense that is explosive and has the ability to win a lot of matchups.
The good news for the Vikings is that by playing the New England Patriots earlier in the season, they have already prepared for a no-huddle attack.
"Well we practiced it a lot when we got ready to play New England so it's actually good to get them in a row so you can continue to practice those things," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer explained. "You know the tempo of the game is speeding up now anyway usually…obviously it's always a little bit of stress."
That wasn't the last of Zimmer's thoughts on Atlanta's no-huddle offense. He went so far as to mention it the opening remarks of his customary Friday press conference.
"Hopefully, our fans will be nice and loud for this no-huddle offense that Atlanta runs," Zimmer commented.
Coaches Want to Use Bridgewater's MobilityIn the NFL, the best quarterbacks are those who can win from the pocket. But it doesn't hurt to have some mobility to move around and make some plays. As the Vikings begin the process of developing Teddy Bridgewater into a starting quarterback, it sounds like they will be sure to use every part of the rookie's skill set – including his mobility.
"Well it does add a lot," Zimmer said when asked what Bridgewater's mobility adds to the Vikings offense. "You tend to worry about him running (as a defense), so usually it slows the (pass) rush down a little bit typically. It keeps some of the coverages that you might normally get because you're nervous about the guy running."
Aside from slowing down the pass rush and dictating coverages, mobility can do another thing to a defense that may take away a tactic typically used against inexperienced quarterbacks.
"You have to be careful when you blitz because if there is one place that you're missing in the blitz and he gets out then it has a chance to be a big, big play with him running too," Zimmer explained. "It adds another dimension, yes."
Even Cordarrelle Patterson Looks Up to Devin HesterCordarrelle Patterson just may be the NFL's best kickoff returner at the moment. He led the NFL in kickoff return average last year and also had two return touchdowns. While Patterson may be at the top of the return game now, though, the best of all-time will be on the opposing sideline this Sunday.
Devin Hester will one day be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of his return ability. The former Chicago Bear logged his 20th career return touchdown last week, a NFL record. Even Patterson, who is on a track of his own to be a great returner, looks up to Hester.
"I would say everybody looks up to Hester," Patterson said. "Hester just broke Deion's (Sanders) record. Everybody looks up to him. Me, personally, I look up to a guy like that. It's always good to look at guys like that who can do the things he does and just watching film of him gets me excited."
Greenway's Streak Will Come to an EndThey don't make them any tougher than Chad Greenway. The Vikings linebacker has led the club in tackles each of the past six seasons and he hasn't missed a game since the knee injury that ended his rookie season – 115 consecutive games played. That streak appears to be heading to a conclusion this weekend, though, because Greenway is listed on the week's final injury report as "out."
In Greenway's place, a combination of players will be called upon, including Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti. Zimmer also indicated that the Vikings could use dime personnel (DBs) in some situations.