Eight weeks ago, the Vikings were undefeated and ranked No. 1 in DVOA. Now they're 6-6 and probably done. What went wrong?
13 Nov 2010
interviewed by Ben Muth
As many of you know, Football Outsiders has a team in the Procter & Gamble Blogger Fantasy League. Each team is sponsored by a P&G product, and we're sponsored by Prilosec OTC. Prilosec makes a good sponsor for us because their overall NFL sponsorship isn't tied into goofy commercials about Troy Polamalu's hair or goofy (yet awesome) commercials about Ray Lewis flying on ravens. It's tied to real football: specifically, bringing attention to offensive lines every week on NFL.com and giving away the John Madden MVP (Most Valuable Protector) award at the end of the season.
One of Prilosec's NFL spokesmen this year is Vikings right guard Anthony Herrera, and when we got a chance to ask him a few question, it only made sense to hook him up with our own resident lineman, Ben Muth. (We hope to run another interview in a couple weeks with Prilosec's other NFL spokesman, Giants tackle David Diehl.)
(Note: Sponsored post, in case it wasn't already obvious.)
FO: What do you guys as an o-line pride yourselves on? What’s the Vikings' MO, so to say?
Anthony Herrera: It would definitely have to be running the football. You always want to establish your presence and dominance in that running gam first and foremost. We want to get Adrian over 100 yards every week. After that, it’s just about protecting Brett. Keeping him upright, allowing him to make all throws.
FO: And what do you individually bring to the unit?
Herrera: I bring a sense of toughness, a sense of passion. I’m the kind of guy that loves the game, and is gonna leave it all on the line every game. Just that sense of toughness that I bring is really what I’m about.
FO: What’s the one running play you guys hang your hat on?
Herrera: It’s gotta be Inside Zone. Adrian’s gotten a lot better this year at reading it, and everyone has really picked up the scheme better. To know we can run that play, when you bring eight guys, nine guys, eleven guys into the box, we’re still gonna run the ball and do it effectively. And that’s the play we do it with.
FO: Do you like the fact that teams respect you enough to give you a lot of eight-man fronts? Or would you rather just block seven-man boxes all day?
Herrera: Anyone would wish to see seven-man looks all day. It just makes your job so much easier. But is a type of respect thing, you know, that you can take some pride in. That they have to cheat and dare you to beat them with the pass to try and stop you. But they still can’t.
FO: Can you take us through a typical play at the line? Who makes the call? Do you ID the Mike?
Herrera: For us it starts and ends with the center. The quarterback calls the play in the huddle and then we come up to the line. The center calls out the Mike and lets everyone know who he’s working with (which guard). On running plays we just go from there. Once you know who the center is working with the scheme just takes care of everything else. If he’s working with the left guard, you know you and the tackle are together, maybe sealing off the end or climbing to that Buck linebacker.
On passing plays it’s a little more complicated. Brett can recall the Mike. Just change it to someone else if he doesn’t like what he sees. In protection it’s about getting those front four, and finding that fifth man.
FO: In your own personal development, how much did it help going against guys like Pat and Kevin Williams every day?
Herrera: A lot. All through my career I’ve been really lucky. Even back in my college days at Tennessee, I went up against John Henderson and Albert Haynesworth every day in practice. Then I got to Minnesota and I’m going up Pat and Kevin, two pro bowlers. They would tell me when I was doing something wrong, and say “You’re doing this too much” or “Do this with your hands.” It was great, I’ve been really lucky.
FO: Obviously the season didn’t start out how you guys envisioned it, but do you think Sunday’s big comeback could be the turnaround?
Herrera: You would hope that it is, but this one win doesn’t really matter more than others. Obviously, we would like to have all wins stacked up, but like you said, that’s not the way it is. For us, it’s just a new day and a new team on Sunday. We’ll go out there and prepare like we always do cause we’re professionals and we always approach the game with 100 percent commitment.
FO: Speaking of being professionals, and this being a job, any thoughts on the CBA situation? Have you heard anything from your union rep? Any personal feelings?
Herrera: Basically it comes down to money. The owners want more of it and think the players get too much. But football players actually get the least of it from their sport. We got good guys in place that are negotiating with the owners and trying to get a deal worked out. But, are we gonna play next year? I hope so. The NFLPA has one goal and that is to take of its members. If we don’t play, I think we’ve done some things to be ready for that, but no one wants that. No one wants some long drawn out thing, cause then nobody wins. Nobody wins if we don’t play.
FO: Finally, we should ask you about Prilosec OTC. How’d you get hooked up with them? And is it something you or the other guys use a lot?
Herrera: Yeah, I use it. Actually, since I started using it, and the commercial, people come up to me all the time, saying they use it too and it really works. Me, being from the crib, I like my spicey food. And I’m a bigger guy so I do what I want when it comes to food. I’m not gonna give up the spicey stuff. But I was getting heart burn a lot. So, the team doctors tried a bunch of things, and finally they gave me Prilosec. It worked, and I’ve been taking it ever since.
Now they’re doing a lot of stuff with the NFL to get the word out. They’re doing the MVP, Most Valuable Protector, with John Madden at the end of the year. Then, they got in touch with my agency about the Living Proof campaign and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, and I said of course. I am living proof that it works after all.
4 comments, Last at 16 Nov 2010, 2:27pm by Will Allen