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The Man in the Middle

Erin Henderson watched Blair Walsh kick a 36 yard field goal to tie the game at 10 all against the Greenbay Packers on Monday night. With 5:09 left in the 2nd quarter, Henderson trotted out on the field to direct the defense in a critical junction of the game. Greenbay started the drive on their own 20 yard line. On 1st and 10 Eddy Lacy took the hand off from Aaron Rodgers and was tackled for a 2 yard loss on a great play by Henderson. Rodgers then dumped the ball off to Lacy on 2nd and 12 as Henderson fought through a block from guard Josh Sitton and held the play to a short gain. It was 3rd and long when Greenbay broke the game wide-open. The Vikings were in a nickle formation, which they had used for most of the game, Henderson and Marcus Sherels both blitzed while Everson Griffen dropped back into coverage from his DT position. Rodgers read it perfectly and hit Jordy Nelsen with a quick pass over the middle just outside of Chad Greenway’s coverage. Greenway, Everson Griffen and Andrew Sendejo all struggled to make the tackle as Nelson raced 76 yards for the score.

On the previous defensive series, Henderson, the Vikings leading tackler, had nice stops on 2nd and short and also on 3rd and short. Henderson finished the game with 7 tackles and 7 assists to lead the way for the Vikings.

Chad Greenway has led the team in tackles each of the last five years, but the new man in the middle could end that streak this season. Henderson had 12 tackles and 2 assists against the Giants in week 7 as he continues to mature and develop as a defensive leader and MLB. Henderson stole many of the headlines during camp and preseason… and now he is “quietly” leading this team with 69 tackles and 2 interception.

 I think Erin has good instinct against the run. He lines up deep off the line of scrimmage most of the time, but he is quick enough in his read and reaction to still constantly be in position to makes tackles for loss or no gain. At times, I can see Henderson struggle to fight through blocks or to stay focused on his own gab responsibilities. Henderson is a solid tackler when he is moving forward and attacking the ball.

5 things I would like to see from Erin Henderson in the second half of the season:

1) It is a pass happy league, a couple more interceptions would be great. Dallas could be a good place for another int.

2) I know he can fly around and make tackles on the outside… I want to see him develop into a solid force on plays right up the middle.

3) Finishing the season with more tackles than Chad Greenway would be a big deal.

4) The Vikings defense is on track to be one of the worst units in Vikings history. I want to see Henderson’s leadership help turn things around down the stretch?

5) Henderson has 3 sacks, only 1.5 behind team leader Jared Allen. Can Henderson out sack the great Jared Allen?

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Carl Knowles

Carl Knowles (Contributor) is a former member of the Professional Bowler Association and an avid lifelong Vikings fan. When he is not bowling you can find him on websites and forum pages sharing his creative insight and enthusiasm for the Minnesota Vikings any chance he gets. Carl was a Phoenix Institute of Technology and Purdue University standout who currently enjoys the challenge of being a graphic director in the printing business. You can follow him on twitter @carlknowles_vt.

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  1. that pass to nelson was both good and lucky. if greenway was in just a little different position and had touched that ball, it would’ve resulted in them punting, but they still would’ve beat us. i’ll be glad when shaaron becomes a viking, i mean, retires

    is it time to recognize that henderson is doing ok?. hmmm, i don’t know yet. it’s hard to praise anyone on that side of the ball right now. we’re so weak at the back end, no one person can turn this defense around, but he can help lead us to being some kind of purple eating people, next year maybe

  2. Henderson is ranked 8th in the NFL in total tackles. Not Bad.

    Cal, I am with you… it is hard to give anyone credit on that side of the ball right.

    I am a Michael Mauti fan… I would love to see him get more playing time… But I am seeing Henderson show up on tape the last 2 games.

    Yes, Henderson can over persue and get blocked or pushed out of plays at times, but his effort has been good. Dallas will be a good test for him.

  3. On another note…I see Singletary wants to be a head coach again….God help us….

  4. I came back on the niners in madden 25 with under one minute left down by 13. Patterson and Jennings were studs with Freeman at QB. This proves its a coaching problem. But they rushed for 275 yds on me. Lol

  5. It’s time for one of those games. You know the game, this team needs to pull out all the trick plays. Go for it on 4th down, onsides kicks…strip the ball, go for 2. Flea-Flicker, hook and ladder, double reverse, fake punt and FG…
    My sister and my cousin are Cowboy fans. Just talked to Cuz, he is a respectable Cowboy fan. There is such a thing. Sis, on the other hand…she is a big reason I hate that team!
    Go Vikes!

    1. cc, if musty were to see those trick play suggestions, he’d just go, ‘huh?’

      love that the sibling rivalry extends to the field. was she brain damaged as a child?

      i’m at that all too familiar point where my heart will have me cheering for a win, but my head will tell me it’s better if we lose. we’re in third place right now

  6. I’m not sure why the Henderson love, he was awful today and couldn’t cover a lineman. So he can get cleanup tackles thats no big deal this is the worst lb corps in the NFL.

  7. better play today, but we gave it away

    too bad for ponder, as everyone will remember that last short pass.didn’t even look like he tried to throw it very far

    1. That’s all people need to remember about Ponder; He CAN’T throw! Never could.

      1. i’m not into defending ponder, but the vikes could’ve won this game, and in all fairness, he did play good enough to win today

        i think i’ll go out and mow the lawn

        1. I wished I could go out and mow the lawn, trouble with living in Alaska, the mowing season ends in September 🙁
          At any rate, I agree, we could have won the game, and Ponder played good enough to win.
          I just know now that Ponder will always be, at times, “Just good enough” to win a few games.
          That ain’t getting us to any SuperBowls though.

          He’s not the guy.

  8. Now can we admit that whatever “scheme” we are using in the final 3 minutes of a game DOESN’T WORK!! There was next to zero resistance on that drive. There is almost no aggressiveness in this defense, and even less when we defend a final drive. I know we are trying to cover for having one of the thinnest defensive backfields in the league right now but that might actually be even all the more reason to be aggressive.

    Did I mention I hate the Cryboys?

    1. Agree Coach. It falls on Frazier, he should be fired. Wins are all that matter…he has 1. Not getting it done.

  9. hey! what is this???

    c’mon guys, tampa bay almost won yesterday and we’re about to go on a losing streak here that should get us a great shot at a top QB


  10. I checked the game record… our prevent defense “forced” the Cowboys to go 90 yards in 2:09. There are people out there who can’t even run 90 yards in 2:09. The 8 passes went for 11, 6, 18, 0, 34, 9, 5, & 7. (I’m fairly certain the incompletion was a drop.) I really don’t recall a difficult pass in any of those, just guys running well underneath or streaking down the middle while we patrolled our zones.

      1. and better yet. lose enough to get everybody fired…….Spielman said the other day that Frazier isn’t going anywhere…….that’s ok…may they go down together…