The Vikings are used to opposing teams attacking their variation of the Tampa-2 defense by having quarterbacks get rid of the ball quickly before the pass rush can get to them. In film study of Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, the Vikings are preparing for him to get rid of the ball quickly. Very quickly.
With Jared Allen and Brian Robison both looking to get to double-digit sacks Sunday, getting Dalton down won't be easy.
"I think the stat of the day is that he's the fastest in the league in getting the ball out," Robison said. "That makes it really hard to get to the quarterback. I think his average snap to release is 2.2 seconds or something like that. It's hard to get around the corner in 2.2 seconds."
Against teams that bring the heat on a regular basis, Dalton and the Bengals offense have found ways to mix things up in the run and pass game. More times than not, when they're throwing, it's coming out quick.
"That ball is gone," Allen said. "We watched a lot of film and good rushes don't get there. It's going to be imperative that we are stout on first and second down. When we do get a chance, when coverage does confuse him and he has to pat the ball, we need to make sure we're on a path that can get there. It's going to be a tough game. He's playing good ball and obviously they're a very talented team."
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams has seen hours of film on Dalton and what impresses him is that he is technically sound. If the play isn't there, he still gets rid of the ball, but will make sure if his receiver doesn't catch it, nobody will.
"When you get the ball out as quickly as (Dalton does), the rush does not have time to get there no matter if you're bringing pressure," Williams said. "The extra body doesn't have time to get home so he's not taking sacks. He's making good decisions in where he throws the ball and they set it up so he knows the coverage pre-snap. With that, he knows where he's going with the ball, making good decisions. The times you can see where he may not know the coverage, he throws it away."
Allen and Robison are both looking to get their 10th sack of the season, but it won't come easy against Dalton, who seems to be improving with each game in his third season. They know what's coming and have their plan of attack ready – explode off the ball and, if they don't get to him, force the issue themselves.
"He's getting the ball out so fast. I don't know if we're going to be able to get sacks, but we want to try to get in his face and get him off his spot," Robison said. "If we can do that, I think we'll be successful."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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