How Far Away is Vikes Defense?

The Vikings defense has been maligned -- and rightfully so -- for the past four years as being the albatross that has prevented the Vikings from being a Super Bowl team. With the new additions, how close are they?

George O'Leary had a salient comment to VU when asked about the team's run defense. While playing well, O'Leary said, "Your run defense always looks good when teams are passing all the time on you."

In 2002, the Vikings tried to address the run defense in the draft and free agency, targeting players with speed and aggressiveness. By the numbers, it looked to have worked. Last year, the Vikings had the 10th-best run defense in the NFL -- fifth in the NFC.

That's the good news. The bad news is the rest of the story. The Vikes ranked 26th in total defense, 29th in pass defense, 30th in scoring defense and 29th in sacks.

However if you want to point to one reason why Minnesota finished 6-10, turnovers tell the story. The Vikings defense was tied for 27th place in takeaways, while ranking 31st in giveaways. Combine the two and only one team (St. Louis) was worse in giveaway/takeaway differential.

With improvement in the secondary, the addition of Kevin Williams as a disruptive force inside and a linebacker corps suddenly as deep as it has been in years, there is reason for optimism. The Vikings aren't going to remind anyone of the Bucs or Eagles, but even moderate improvement could spell the difference between going 6-10 and 10-6.

TUESDAY NOTES
* Fans looking for single-game tickets for the 2003 home season will likely have to be at the Metrodome ticket office Saturday, July 12. That is when tickets go on sale -- at 9 a.m. with an eight-ticket maximum. An hour later, tickets will be available through Ticketmaster, but VU has been told that there is a good shot that they will all be gone by the time the on-line buyers get a shot.
* Is anyone else tired of the bobblehead madness that has deluged sports? The latest in the fray? Beloved Metrodome vendor Wally the Beerman. On Sunday, July 13, Canterbury Park racetrack will have a Wally bobblehead promotion. Can a Fred Zamberletti bobblehead be far behind?

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