I refer to Julian Peterson as "bottled pass-rush", because, simply, whenever the Hawks needed pass rush in ought-six they could blitz Peterson or line him up at an end spot and voila an often mediocre pass rush would transform to decent or better. This Saturday, the Hawks have no such luxury. They do have a number of things in their favor though: home field, Leroy Hill subbing in for Peterson, a Vikings offensive line that's been sub-mediocre at protecting the passer and Tavaris Jackson.
- The Hawks recorded 25 sacks at home versus 16 away.
- Hill notched 7.5 sacks from the weak side in 2005, but only 2 from the strong side in 2006.
FO: Vikings offensive line rankings for the past three years by adjusted sack rate: 22, 30, 22.
- Brad Johnson ASR 2006: 5.9%; Jackson: 8.7% (higher being worse)
The Vikings allowed 3 sacks to the Rams in their first preseason contest, so I don't think their pass protection woes are quite fixed. This should be a great opportunity for the non-Peterson defense to make a statement. If the Hawks can pressure and sack Jackson and company without their best rusher, this unit can potentially be one of the league's best.
A corollary is that if the Hawks can create consistent pressure, this might be the game where the secondary, a unit I've often described as "opportunistic", can create some havoc with turnovers. I do not believe the Hawks will have a great or even good cover secondary, but what they allow in big gains can be made up for in turnovers. If the rush arrives on Saturday, expect the picks to follow.