Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Antoine Winfield speaks wisdom

In last season's Packer-Viking at Lambeau Field, I watched incredulously as Donald Driver lined up in the slot and consistently got covered by a linebacker (and consistently got open). Can a defensive scheme be so fixed that when an opponent's one viable WR threat lines up in the slot, he must be covered by a linebacker? Couldn't the Vikings shift a cornerback like Antoine Winfield or Fred Smoot to the slot to cover him?

No, lining up from the slot meant Driver got to torch linebackers and find openings in zones in the middle of the field. And Driver just destroyed the Vikings last season, netting 6 catches for 191 yards and a touchdown in the first matchup, and 9 catches for 99 yards in the second matchup.

According to the Star Tribune, Antoine Winfield has a better idea.

"Winfield said Monday that he plans to ask the Vikings coaching staff to match him up against Green Bay receiver Donald Driver on Sunday."


"'I know that's where the ball is going to go,' Winfield said, alluding to Driver. 'So, of course, the only way I'll be able to make a play is to guard him.'"


"His message was short but crystal-clear. 'If I'm not matched up on Donald Driver one-on-one something is wrong,' he said."

I'm just a schmuck sitting in my living room watching football. But Antoine Winfield knows about 10,000 times more about NFL passing coverage than I do. And I think he's right. Last season Mike Tomlin didn't alter the defense, and allowed Donald Driver to crush the Vikings in the middle of the field. Hopefully Leslie Frazier sees things the same way Winfield does, and decides to make the necessary alteration in the defensive scheme, covering Driver with a defensive back wherever he lines up on the field.


  1. Anonymous10:13 AM

    I agree that covering up Driver in the slot with a linebacker is a mistake, but I'd caution against thinking that Driver is the only viable wr option for the Packers. A healthy Jennings is a decent to good NFL wide receiver, and their rookie, whose name escapes me, has shown some promise. Of course, having a well above-average qb, which Favre indisputably still is, especially since McCarthy is willing to coach him, unlike Mike Sherman, really highlights a wide receiver's talents.

    What is so damned difficult in assessing the Vikings passing game is that one can't really tell if anybody has even average talent, so it becomes really hard to know what direction to go, in terms of roster construction, unless one simply decides to blow the whole thing up and start from scratch.

  2. I should have made that clear: last year Driver was the only viable WR threat (especially in the second game), and that's what I was referring to when I wrote that, but this year the Packers can go to Jennings or Jones effectively. Still, Driver is the killer who has always destroyed the Vikes, and Winfield should be on him (especially as there is no real reason to respect the Packer run game).

  3. Well, if it WAS Tomlin's fault that Driver went off on the Vikes last year, look at the good side: now you know how to beat the Steelers. Just line up your top wide receiver in the slot...

    Oh, wait.

  4. Anonymous2:47 PM

    i'm sure donald driver is hoping the vikings single cover him. nothing against winfield--he's pretty great-- but driver generally spends his time working double teams. should be a fun game for one of us.