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Antoine Winfield May Have to Sit, Again

A season that began with high expectations is turning into a lost one for Antoine Winfield.

A foot injury suffered early in the week 6 contest against the Ravens forced the cornerback to miss six games.  He was able to finally return against the Bengals, and seemed to immediately regain his Pro Bowl form.  But, in subsequent games, it became evident that Winfield’s injury was hampering him.

In the last game vs. the Bears, Winfield’s inability to stay with receivers helped Jay Cutler regain the big play ability that had been missing from his game much of the season.

The Vikings coaching staff has since realized that, if they hope to get the defense back to where it should be, they may have to leave Winfield out of their plans.

Nothing definite has been announced for Sunday’s regular season finale, let alone the playoffs, but it seems that, at the very least, Winfield will be demoted to the nickel role, with Benny Sapp being elevated to starter.

Sapp started for Winfield during his six game absence, and was able to hold his own.  At this point, a healthy Sapp is probably a better option than a crippled Winfield.

The worst case scenario would see Winfield having to sit out entirely, forcing the Vikings to enter the postseason with Asher Allen as their nickelback.  Allen has shown flashes of playmaking ability, but he like Jasper Brinkley is a rookie, and I’m sure Leslie Frazier would prefer not to have two inexperienced players seeing prominent playing time, especially in the playoffs, when one mistake can make your Super Bowl dreams go poof.

Topics: Antoine Winfield, Asher Allen, Benny Sapp, Jasper Brinkley, Jay Cutler, Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings

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  • joe

    Course, if chilly had game-planned the bears properly (or even conceded that Favre needed to run the offense midway through the second quarter), they likely would have be assured #2 and a first-round by.

    If chilly wasn’t such a bonehead, the vikes probably would have locked up #2 seed AND been challenging for #1 (home field advantage all the way through).

    Of course, it isn’t just chilly, many homers have been saying to rely on a “power running attack” that doesn’t exist on this team too. Brett is the only reason the vikings are a legitimate elite team this year PERIOD!

    Winfeld should have gotten 2 weeks off without anyone having any reason to question it.

    Maybe it will still work out that way – kewl, won’t matter if they are ready for a playoff run. Hopefully, everyone is wise for what they have been through.

    Hopefully chilly has been thoroughly embarrassed in front of players, fans, his peers, viking management, and ownership and will let the guy that really understands the offense run the show – BRETT!

  • Mike

    Problems on defense amplifies the need for the offense to excel. Disguise whether you are running or passing and take whatever the defense gives you – most likely the pass.

  • joe

    Mike – can’t buy your premise that it is all about “disguising”.

    AD is a fast or feast runner with a fumbling problem. If Favre spreads the offense and calls the shots, they move the ball, even when the defense knows its going to be a pass.

    Barry Sanders had a rep for being “fast or feast” runner, but, after first season, did not fumble the ball much at all (and regularly had 300+ carries/year).

    AD is being prematurely called “great” and think the real problem is pretending to have a “power running game” (which demands holding onto the football) when it hasn’t existed all year.

  • Mike

    I believe it is all about disguising whether it is run or pass AND taking whatever the defense gives you, which will usually be pass.

    If you don’t disguise run versus pass they will give you nothing. They will load the box on runs and drop into cover-2 on passes. Just ask the Panthers WR Mushin Muhammed.

    Unfortunately for Peterson it is difficult for him to ever get some slack, because when the Vikings do disguise run versus pass, the defenses will virtually always choose just loading the box against the run. That means it is up to Favre to, after disguising run versus pass, punish the defense with the pass until the run opends up.

    I have to disagree that Favre can open the offense even if they know it is a pass. We saw the problem he had in Green Bay when he lacked a good running attack. Recently this year with the Vikings, Favre was mostly stymied when the Cards and Panthers knew he was passing.

    Favre came to the Vikings because he knew defenses would load the box against the run against Peterson. We saw it come true against all the defenses they became 10-1 and also the Bears did last week. Assuming of course after they disguised run versus pass.

    Unfortunately, Chilly appears to have learned little from even Pop Warner football. Like the need to disguise the run versus pass. Even after Chilly apparently learned that lesson from the Cards and Panthers games, he still had learn to take whatever the defense gives him in the Bears game and not just smash the run into loaded boxes.

    Hopefully, the Vikings are now ready to rock, disguise run versus pass and take whatever the defense gives them, which will probably start with the pass and sometime thereafter, the run will also be opened up.

  • joe

    What do you mean “we saw the problem when he didn’t have a running attack”!!!!!

    In 2007 he CARRIED that team for the entire year!

    They went to the championship game, taking eventual SB champ to overtime. You are really just full of it on that one.

    And the second half of the bear game – he was able to open it up. Everyone knew it was gonna primarily be a pass and they still couldn’t stop him.

    Besides, the elite football teams have ALWAYS been able to challenge teams to stop what they do best and still make it work.

    The vikings can do that on pass plays with Brett Favre – when he can work the offense, it doesn’t matter if the defense is expecting a pass.

    The run, we will have to agree to disagree.

    Fact: AD is inconsistent, can’t catch ball and can’t hold onto it either.

    You and others compare him to some of the all-time greats.

    Fact: Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Emmit Smith, Larry Czonka, OJ – they could all run when the defense was anticipating a run.

    You can’t have it both ways – if AD is a great back, then he should be able to do. He can’t and because of this, the vikings don’t have a “power running game” which, by definition, can be productive even when a defense anticipates it.

  • Mike

    Yes we will have to agree to disagree. Elite football teams rarely let themselves become one-dimensional and when they do they will pay eventually.

    Apparently, I give Ryan Grant more credit than you do in 2007. I was talking about how bad Favre’s teams were in 2005 and 2006 without a good running game.

    I also disagree on the Vikings Bears game. They did a good job of mixing in the run. Peterson got quite a few yards.

    But I do agree it would be easier for a passing team to pass some then for a running team to run some, if defenses focus on their strength. The NFL has certainly become more condusive to passing than running.

  • joe

    No one is saying that they should become one dimensional. Point is:

    1. vikings don’t really have a “power running game”, haven’t all season. By definition, a “power” game could get yards even against stacked defense like Emmit Smith used to regularly do with Cowboys.

    2. the second half comeback against the bears was done through the air – but the run kept the bears reasonably honest.

    3. when the vikings converted critical third downs against bears, they were all obvious pass situations and Brett got the job done.

    4. Brett carried the pack for many years when they did not have a running back or defense.

    5. While grant’s overall yards look good for 2007 – check what happened first half of the season – he sucked! Brett carried them. Check what happened in the playoffs, Brett carried them. Defense was awful – yet only because of Favre, they played the eventual SB champs to a draw after 4 quarters.

  • Mike

    1. I don’t know how much defenses stacked the box against Emmitt Smith, but Peterson has better annual rushing totals and averages.

    2. Peterson run kept the Bears defense from dropping 8 and even 7 into coverage. If the Bears would have dropped 8 back into coverage, Peterson would have run wild.

    3. I agree the pass should always be used to convert third downs of more than one yard. But the run helped make second and third downs more managable.

    4. Not sure what years Brett carried the pack when they did not have a running back or defense, but the biggest reason he never returned to the super bowl was that he never had a top D after Reggie White left and also suffered from mediocre running backs until 2007.

    5. Neither Grant nor the Packers D was bad that year. Grant wasn’t run much the first six games but took over in the last 10 games. They lost the fifth game, so the most you could hope for is to claim he carried them for the first 4 games. But the D was not awful – rated 11th in the NFL.

  • joe

    You homers are just too fixated on AD and it will be the downfall of this team. Right now, you blame it on chilly, even making up conspiracy theories that somehow the defense knows all the plays.

    But he has just done what most here you asked for, pretend to have a “power attack”. This is not a power-running team.

    You don’t get the bear game thing at all – when it was third and long, Brett made the plays in the second half against a defense keyed for the pass. He did likewise on the drives to tie it up too.

    Your memory of the 2007 pack, favre’s last year, is flat out wrong. What ranking are you using? 11th based on what – it was a bad defense that could not hold a lead and that is what did them in during the playoffs that year.

  • Mike

    Joe, you are the one too fixated on giving Favre all the credit. Even Favre himself has talked about the importance of Peterson, the best running back he has ever played with.

    The Vikings don’t have a power running team this year only because defenses are loading the box, leaving Favre the opportunity to take advantage.

    The run sets up the pass and the pass sets up the run. Offenses must be two dimensional. This is still a team sport even if it is a QB driven league.

    I said only the Cards and Panthers knew their plays out of their first 15 games. I didn’t make it up. Tony Boseli reported it against the Cards. This is not the first time defenders studied film to read an offense. The Panthers believe they were a victim themselves earler in the year.

    On the Vikings 4 TD drives against the Bears, Favre only had to convert 3 third downs and 1 for Peterson. Not the story of the game.

    The story of the Bears game is the Vikings disguised the run and pass but made the mistake of trying to run into a Bears defense mostly loading the box in the first half. In the second half, they mixed both run and pass while focusing more on the pass because the Bears were mostly loading the box and not dropping 7 and 8 defenders into coverage.

    The Packers had a relatively good defense in 2007, rated 11th in total defense in terms of yardage surrendered, which is how defenses are rated in the NFL.

  • Mike

    Joe, if I had time I would use your hero’s own words to argue with you:

    1 Favre has said all along he has benefited from defenses loading the box against Peterson.

    2 Favre’s argument with Chilly was over Favre wanting to audible when defenses loaded 8 into the box against Peterson while Chilly just wanted to run it anyway.

    3 Favre said early in the 2007 season that it was one of the best teams he ever played with and he said the same about this year’s Vikings.

    I am listening to your hero more than you are.

  • tschaid

    If this is true, the coaching staff has now decided Winfield is not ready, where were they late in the game against Carolina. This may just be another example of how poor this coaching staff really is. There were plenty of reasons in the 4th quarter against Carolina to re-evaluate Winfield’s status but it wasn’t done until after he had another poor showing against Chicago. I have always admired Winfield but while he was out, the defense continued to ok and certainly better than they did in the 4th quarter against Carolina and the whole game against Chicago.

    I have worked for control freaks in the past and it always leads to discontent. Childress has shown he can pick talent – I think or is this Spielman ? He has also shown he doesn’t have a clue about making adjustments within a game or even from game to game. And… It seems apparent Frazer learned his coaching skill from Childress. You would have thought he would have brought something from the Bears teams he played on.

    Regardless, Wilf is a fool for having extended his contract and he is a fool for the approach he is taking with the state. I never really liked Denny Green but just imagine what the combination of Green and Billick could do with this team. All we would need then is a defensive coordinator or someone to teach our current defensive coordinator.

  • Mike

    The Vikings need to prepare for the playoffs by examining why they lost to the Cardinals, Panthers and Bears, and then make adjustments accordingly.

    I believe the Vikings lost to the Cardinals and Panthers because they failed to disguise whether they would run or pass, so the opposing defenses dropped back 7 and 8 into coverage on passes while still loading the box on runs. They lost to the Bears because in the first half they mostly ran against a Bears defense that was loading the box against the run.

    Some, like Joe, believe the Vikings lost because they failed to just give the ball to Favre and focus mainly on the pass. While that analysis might sound plausible for explaining the Bears game, the Vikings had Favre pass 45 times against the Cardinals and 27 times against the Panthers while rushing Peterson only 13 times in each game.

    Others, like Chilly, believe the Vikings lost because they failed to just give the ball to Peterson and focus mainly on the run. While that analysis might sound plausible for explaining the Cardinals and Panthers game, it clearly failed in the first half of the Bears game.

    So, the answer for the playoffs is clearly to continue to disguise whether they will run or pass like they did against the Bears (and didn’t against the Cardinals and Panthers) and take mostly whatever the defense gives them, which will likely start with the pass since the defenses will likely continue to load the box against Peterson when not knowing whether the Vikings will run or pass.

  • joe

    Mike – you are misusing favre’s word. He is not my hero, just tired of hearing the crap here that downplays his contributions.

    He has earned every yard he passed for – had almost 250 in second half against bears – almost all in obvious passing situations. None of that was given to him.

    Favre’s statement in 2007 was BEFORE the season – actually BEFORE the preseason that year. It is not how it turned out, however, the team did have one of its all-time best records.

    However, for much of the season, no run and defense couldn’t hold a lead.

    Favre is a class act and, of course, he give credit all around. However, you are just lying if you are saying all the second half yards this season (where he has most of his yardage) came when there were 8 in the box.

    Your mantra about “disguise” is just garbage, but guess if you want to see them with those funny glasses and noses…

    Giving the ball to AD more means more three-and-outs. This is not a power running team and disguising the run/pass is not the issue.

  • Mike

    Joe – you are misusing my word. I didn’t say Favre didn’t earn every yard he passed. I am certainly not saying ALL of the second half yards this season came when there were 8 in the box.

    Favre predicted the 2007 Packers were one of the best teams he had ever played for and he was right, including the running game and D, especially as proven by turning in one of the Packers all-time best records. If you are saying, Favre did all of it by himself, then you are ridiculous.

    Your ridicule of my requirement that the Vikings disguise their plays is just garbage. Studying game film and not telling plays is basic to football. After Boseli caught McKinnie doing it against the Cards, the Vikings coaches had to talk to him about it.

    Giving the ball to AD more WILL NOT NECESSARILY mean more three-and-outs, especially if they disguise whether it is run or pass, and defenses are not loading the box. This Vikings has the potential to be a power running team.

  • joe

    The vikings are not doing any more than any other team in terms of showing pass or run.

    Check the stats, 2007 was one of Favre’s all-time best years. By the second half of the season, the pass set up the run, which would happen in MN this year too if the offense took advantage of the team’s strengths.

    The game planning is poor and they are tying the hands of the only person that understands their offense in-depth. Rather than “disguise”, they need to allow Favre to take advantages of match-up.

    There is no reason to “disguise” because Favre has shown himself so adept at exploiting the way defenses anticipate plays. That is how they have moved the ball this year, one of the most productive units in the NFL when Favre is in charge – why change this now?

    Guess our biggest difference in opinion is that you think somehow they can “disguise” runs and passes and that there is no fundamental problem in their execution.

    I see it as reliance on a “feast or famine” running game with a guy that can’t hold onto the ball. Maybe this can change in time, but this is the team they are now, heading into the playoffs.

    The vikings while I disagree that these vikings “have the potential” to be a power running team, at least we agree they are not one now. Trying to recast the team this late in the season will just result in an early exit from the playoffs.

    People can’t have it both ways – bear game clearly showed Favre can move this team when he is in charge.

    It is LOL comical to hear people proclaim on one side of their mouth that vikings should use their nonexisting “power running game” and let AD create more three-and-outs (which is chilly’s way). Out of the other side of their mouths, these same people proclaim that chilly is scheming wring (giving them what they as for).

    And my disagreement with you is that “disguising” is just a simplistic rationalization for the two completely diametric positions that are regularly presented here.

    We saw what it takes to for this team to win and it has nothing to do with disguising.

  • Mike

    I have no idea, and doubt you do either, whether “the vikings are not doing any more than any other team in terms of showing pass or run.” I just know the Cards and Panthers took advantage, while the other teams the Vikings played didn’t in their 13 other games.

    Yes, 2007 was one of Favre’s all-time best years, but that doesn’t mean the rushing and defense were also not important, including to Favre’s stats. This is very much a team game in which everything is inextricably intertwined.

    You can’t just assume the pass will set up the run. Defenses appear determined to load the box against Peterson, no matter how well Favre passes.

    The game planning was fine until the Cards read the tells of whether the Vikings would pass or run. No matter what they did failed because the defense dropped 7 and 8 into coverage and teed off with their front four on passes while still loading the box on runs.

    Chilly misread the problem and figured they just needed to run, even against defenses loading the box, which really demonstrated his one-dimensional thought process.

    If they don’t disguise run from pass, Favre will have problems taking advantage of the match-ups. It doesn’t matter how adept Favre is at exploiting the way defenses anticipate plays, if McKinnie is telling the defense when they will pass, and defenses are dropping 7 or 8 into coverage and teeing off with their front four.

    Favre looked confused against the Cards and Panthers but it was really that his receivers were double covered and the front four was teeing off on him.

    They were moving the ball before the Cards game, because defenses were mainly only loading the box and Favre was picking their secondaries apart.

    I think everything starts with applying basic Pop Warner principles of football by disguising runs and passes. I didn’t say there is no problem in their execution but the execution looks far worse than it is when defenses know whether they will run or pass.

    I see the Vikings main problem against the Bears in the first half as trying to run against a defense that was loading the box. Peterson’s fumble also cost the game but the game should have never made it to overtime.

    Peterson should not be part of the passing game because he appears to drop passes at a much higher rate than he fumbles on rushes, in addition to the chance of fumbling on the end of a pass.

    You have to take what the defense gives you. The fact that defenses, especially Green Bay, would rather get beat by Favre than Peterson is a testament to how good of a running back he is even at the risk of an occasional fumble.

    The only reason I agree with you that the Vikings must rely on Favre is that defenses are focusing mainly on Peterson (and not Favre when the Vikings are not telling plays).

    We saw what it takes for this team to win in the Bears game and it had everything to do with disguising whether the run or pass and taking what the defense gives them, which was the pass. It is LOL comical that you just can’t seem to understand what I am saying.

  • joe

    Your first and third paragraphs contradict each other. Likewise, don’t see how you can proclaim AD should not be part of the pass offense yet need to “disguise”.

    You can’t disguise if Peterson is only used as a runner. This is one reason why I don’t accept your premise. Just pointing this out, we obviously will see this differently.

    It is my opinion that the notion that somehow AD isn’t being used effectively (when he actually isn’t producing when used as some suggest) is just a not-so-subtle bash at the guy that is responsible for the vikings taking a step up this year.

    The playmaker this year is Favre, not AD.

    The situations dictate run/pass more often than anything else, you can’t hide that, so I don’t think you have properly identified the problem – just trying to discuss.

    You are flat out wrong, LOL wrong, when you say the success in the second half of bear game had anything to do with vikings successfully “disguising” anything.

    Everyone in the stadium knew that the game was in Favre’s hand – the defense was doing what they could to shut him down, and he passed for about 250 yards in the second-half alone.

    It has nothing at all to do with “disguising” and you are actually just promoting the failed “chilly ball”, pretending that if they mask that unproductive strategy, it will work.

    Guess you homers will never admit that it took a former packer/future Hall of Famer to turn this franchise around.

    In fact, many here would rather go with the same crap that failed last year, against the cards, and in the first half of bear game. You have no evidence that your theory about tipping plays is correct.

    The difference between first half and second halves of bear game have nothing to do with this and everything to do with Brett Favre and little with AD – Brett could have passed for those 2 TDs, snuck it himself, or given ball to someone else.

    Just amazing…

  • Mike

    I don’t see how my first and third paragraphs contradict each other. Nor do you explain.

    Likewise, I don’t see how proclaiming AD should not be part of the pass offense has anything to do with the need to disguise whether it is run or pass. You certainly can disguise run versus pass, even if Peterson is only used as a runner. That is what play action is for.

    If an offense allows the situation to dictate run/pass, they become too predictable. I have properly identified this as the problem for two of the Vikings games against the Cards and Panthers.

    The problem in the Bears game was different because the Vikings don’t appear to have had any tells. Thus I am flat out right that success had something to do with disguising run from pass. If they knew Favre would pass on every play or knew which plays he would pass, the defense would have dropped 7 and 8 into coverage while teeing off their front, like the Cards and Panthers did.

    Disguising has nothing to do with chilly ball. Chilly ball is simply running when the defenses are obviously loading the box against the run.

    On the contrary, I do admit that it took Favre to turn this team around. In fact I have been saying that since February. The Vikings needed a QB that could handle the blitz when defenses loaded the box against Peterson.

    My evidence that the Vikings were tipping plays is the testimony of Tony Boseli that the Vikings were doing just that and McKinnie’s admission that he may have been doing it.

    The difference between first half and second halves of Bears game is the Vikings relied too much on the run in the first half while the Bears defense was loading the box.

  • joe

    This is getting to be a tiresome line – I keep feeding it because I think a disrespect for what Favre has done for this team underlies your posts (and many others here).

    Whether intentional or not, my objective is to call BS on that – BRETT is the difference between this year’s team that could be a superbowl champ and last year’s team that backed into NFC central title and was quickly dismissed in the playoffs.

    You will never get this – too much AD worship, even though he has accomplished little in NFL other than rack up a lot of yards, many in garbage time.

    I will just say this one more time, hope it is clearer and then leave this thread alone. If you post any more of this disrespectful crap towards Favre that denies he means more to this team than AD, I will jump in again.

    1. You can’t proclaim in one breadth “I have no idea, and doubt you do either, whether “the vikings are not doing any more than any other team in terms of showing pass or run.” and then in the next state unequivocally that you know for a fact that they just need to disguise what they are doing.

    Maybe homers that constantly intentionally/unintentionally disrespect Favre will ever see this, but the contradiction bewteen “I have no idea” and then later knowing it all is pretty obvious.

    2. You cannot POSSIBLY only use AD for runs and not be tipping the defense off. This is a huge flaw in his game. You can talk about disguising all you want – talk is cheap – we are talking the NFL and play action isn’t effective when everyone knows that back doesn’t have hands to be part of the running play.

    Enough – I am done until I read more BS that tries to argue that somehow a back with bad hands that has never been part of a team that has accomplished anything is somehow more important to the vikings than future HOF, 3-time MVP, all-time record leader (in virtually EVERY QB category) and Super Bowl champ Brett Farve.

    This “disguise” stuff means just more chilly ball and disrespects the contributions of the team’s biggest playmaker.

    Your analysis of the bear game is foolish – enough is enough.

  • Mike

    It is certainly not disrespectful to Favre to say that AD means as much to the team. I will keep saying both are important and couldn’t give a crap if you jump in.

    Moreover, your logic makes no sense:

    1. I don’t have to know the extent that other teams are failing to disguise plays to say the Vikings are failing to disguise plays.

    2. Of course, the Vikings can only use AD for runs and not be tipping the defense off whether they will run or pass. Play action involves lining up in an obvious run formation and the QB either hands off to the RB or throws to one of the WRs.

    Your statement “Play action isn’t effective when everyone knows that back doesn’t have hands to be part of the running play” makes no sense. Of course, AD is part of the running play???

    Your whole analysis is foolish – enough is enough.