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News » How Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson handles Eagles' blitz is the key to Sunday's game


How Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson handles Eagles' blitz is the key to Sunday's game


How Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson handles Eagles' blitz is the key to Sunday's game
Thanks to the New York Giants, Tarvaris Jackson believes he has a pretty good idea of what he's going to face Sunday against Philadelphia.


Vikings coach Brad Childress said the Giants blitzed on 80 percent of the Vikings' plays, a remarkably high figure, and that was a good dress rehearsal for the type of pressure the Eagles are expected to bring against Jackson, who will make the first playoff appearance of his young career as the Vikings' quarterback.

Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is a former Eagles assistant coach.

"We have never really seen (blitzing) like that before," Jackson said Wednesday. "But it's good because we're playing Philly now. We didn't know it at the time, but now we know that it is pretty much the same defense (and) the same attacking type of mentality -- bring a lot of guys. So it was good."

Longtime Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is known for his creative, aggressive defenses. His defenses have been among the league leaders in sacks for years. The Eagles finished the regular season third in the NFL with 48 sacks.

Childress said the key for Jackson is to minimize mistakes against blitzes. Blitzes tend to force mistakes.

"Sometimes there's going to be some 'gotchas,' " Childress said. "But hey, live to fight another day. Sometimes you're going to have to punt the Football. Typically in playoff Football, turnovers are killers. Obviously (the Eagles are) very good at turning them into points."

The Eagles were plus-10 in turnovers this season, ranking second in the NFL. They also had seven returns for touchdowns: two interceptions, three fumbles, one punt and one kickoff. Only Green Bay, with nine, had more returns for touchdowns.

The Eagles dominated Dallas 44-6 on Sunday to secure a wild-card playoff berth. They returned two fumbles, both forced by safety Brian Dawkins, for touchdowns.

Jackson has to be ready for the pressure, make the right decisions and not hold the ball too long.

"The Eagles, they're going to win their share of one-on-one matchups," said Fox analyst Troy Aikman, who will work the game. "A guy's going to make a blocker miss and get a hit on the quarterback. The ball's got to come out. I'm sure that will be stressed."

Aikman believes avoiding turnovers and mistakes will be critical for Jackson.

"In playoff Football, so often these games come down to not who makes the most big plays as much as it is who makes the fewest bad plays," Aikman said. "So you've got to be smart with the Football. Every third down becomes critical. If it's not there, don't force something."

Jackson has to make better decisions under pressure than he did against the Giants. He got away with some dangerous throws that could have been intercepted but weren't.

It should help Jackson that Childress and Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier are former Eagles assistants.

"I know they have a good understanding of what's going on on that side of the ball, and they're going to get us prepared for that," Jackson said.

Jackson was sacked twice and credited with just one carry for minus-4 yards against the Giants. His biggest play of the day, a 54-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian, happened when a Giants cornerback fell, leaving Berrian wide open.

"I think he did OK against the blitz," said former Vikings linebackers coach Pete Bercich, a radio analyst. "At first, obviously they had gotten to him. By the third quarter, he was throwing some (hot routes) and some other routes to kind of move the ball and make them pay for it a little bit."

Jackson said he hadn't seen all of the film yet of Philadelphia's defense, but he expects the Eagles to blitz the majority of the time out of their nickel defense. If the Eagles blitz, Vikings receivers should have one-on-one matchups. Jackson has to find them.

Said Jackson of attacking the blitz: "Just have to be careful with the Football. Just be smart with it. Get the ball out of your hands as fast as possible. Make it hurt. When they bring all those guys, make it hurt. Try to get big plays and try to discourage them from doing that stuff."



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 1, 2009

Sheldon Brown Name: Sheldon Brown
#24
Position: CB
Age: 29
Experience: 7 years
College: South Carolina
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