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1st & Goal: Pete Bercich, Former Minnesota Vikings Linebacker

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
August 23, 2023 9:21 pm

1st & Goal: Pete Bercich, Former Minnesota Vikings Linebacker

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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August 23, 2023 9:21 pm

Pete Bercich joined Zach to discuss if the Vikings are still a contender to win the NFC North and how much the defense will improve. 

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That's ShipStation.com slash audio. The NFL season is inching closer and closer. Who are the contenders and who are the pretenders? We have four downs to figure out your team's future. It's time now for First and Goal on the Zach Gelb Show.

Time to preview. The Minnesota Vikings will do so with the man that played for the franchise from 1994 to 2000 and spent a bunch of years on the coaching staff now for a long time in the broadcast booth. And that of course is Pete Bursich. Pete, always appreciate the time. How you been? I've been great. Thanks for having me on.

I appreciate it. So I've been defending the Minnesota Vikings this summer where I agree that they're going to regress from where they were a year ago with 13 wins. But a lot of people make it out to be like the Vikings are going to be this awful football team and I just don't see it.

What's been the vibe around this team this summer where a lot of people are doubting them? Well, I think if you look at last year, you know, you win, you break a record and win the most amount of one-score games in a season. And then if you look at the overall season, we were outscored. So, you know, you look at the defense.

They were somewhere around 31st overall. You got some movement there that can happen. In fact, it takes some heat off the offense, get a little more balance in that respect. And I think the Vikings can very much compete for an NFC North title this year. It's just how much better is that defense going to get?

And it's a great point that you bring up, but the other thing that just rubs me the wrong way, and I could easily root for the Detroit Lions, their likable story because of how bad they've been, but how everyone's already anointing them and crowning them NFC North champions. That's a little bit premature. Can they go win some more games first? Yeah, they're going to have to do it and do it consistently. I mean, they got hot at the end of the year, but that's what we do.

We project last year onto this year, and then there's always a flyer. They're the ones that had the more first-round draft picks. They've added a lot more talent than anybody else. That's what you do in the offseason.

You just go with the roster and look at what they've added and what they've lost and kind of cope from there. But Detroit's going to have to learn to play and have more faith in their defense. Their defense is pretty good.

You don't need to be going 4 on 4 down all the time and taking risks that way. They had us against the ropes in the first game when they were in Minnesota. They decided to go 4 on 4 down. We got a good stop, and our offense went on and scored and took the lead. So just being a little less in a way of risk and being a little bit more conservative from a coaching standpoint and have some faith in the defense.

Let's get to the next down. Pete Bursich here with us previewing the Minnesota Vikings. No more Dalvin Cook. Alexander Madison, when given opportunities, has been a solid back. Now getting a lot more on his plate. What do you expect from the Vikings running back? I think that sums up this team.

There are a lot of question marks. That corner running back is definitely the same thing. Addison is a very good running back. He's been kind of a short yardage kind of a guy.

But we don't know. He hasn't been the starter for 14-15 games. He hasn't had the amount of carries that you would expect a starting running back to have. We know what he can do on the field.

It's just a matter of can he continue to do that. The other question is who's the backup? We've seen some veteran running backs come in and visit. But behind him, you're looking at Ty Chandler who's going into a second season. A lot of potential there. I think he could be a very good. You're going to hear me saying that a lot with this team.

Could be. That's what we're kind of dependent on. But Ty Chandler, Kanae Wanwu has not been healthy. He's not been healthy all during camp. So we haven't seen any of him in the preseason.

But he's a guy. And then Dwayne McBride is kind of falling a little bit out of favor. But it's a big step for him to come from where he came from. He caught two passes last year. He brushed for over 1700 yards and caught two passes. So he's got to learn the passing game. He's got to learn the protection game. He's got to learn.

There's a lot of stuff for him to learn. And I think his youth is kind of showing right now. When you look at Jonathan Taylor, he's unhappy with the Colts. I guess there's been six teams that have expressed interest in Jonathan Taylor.

There's a Tuesday deadline maybe to get this deal done that the Colts have put out there. I'd be surprised if Minnesota Explorers, because he just got rid of Dalvin Cook, could you see them maybe kicking the tires on a potential Jonathan Taylor trade? Well, again, you're in the market for another veteran running back. And Jonathan Taylor is probably the best established running back available. That's a question of what they want for it.

And does that align with what Quasi Doflamenza has for the team? This is the one where the fans love to play GM so I can wear it on draft day. We'll do this and do this and trade down and pick this guy and do that. I'm sure they would love to have Jonathan Taylor with the Minnesota Vikings.

The question is, is the price going to be too high? When you're looking at having to re-sign Justin Jefferson, you're not 100% sure what you're going to do with the quarterback situation down the road. TJ Hockinson, you've got a lot of contracts that you need to take care of.

So for them to take on that kind of debt level, I would assume the price would be too high. Do you think it was a mistake getting rid of Dalvin Cook? Here's what I can say. They didn't get rid of Dalvin Cook because of what he was or was not on the field. Dalvin Cook is a leader.

He's got a little bit of you-know-what in his neck, meaning he's going to battle, he's going to fight. He was definitely an emotional leader for this offense. That's what I worry about with Z'Darius Smith's departure to Cleveland. He was the guy that brought a lot of attitude on defense, so we're going to have to find a way to replace that as well.

Dalvin Cook definitely was the heart and soul of this offense. You're losing a little bit more than just the numbers. You're losing a little bit more than just being explosive. That's the main thing. Whatever fact that we have, they have to be explosive because the teams are going to want to keep too safe and deep for Justin Jefferson and Addison and KJ Osbourne and Hockinson. And they give you the opportunity to run. You can't just get three or four yards and move the chains. You've got to get explosive on them and that's what Dalvin could do. And that's what we need out of Madison this year.

Let's get to the next down. Pete Burstitch here with us previewing the Vikings. I said this the other week that I don't think the Vikings intend to bring Kirk Cousins back next year, but I think he'll have a good enough season where he'll get another contract extension. Do you agree with that analysis?

Kirk is a pocket passer. He is very accurate. Good strong arm. You've got to keep a close eye as he gets older.

Is that arm strength and that accuracy? Because if those start to go away, he's not going to be able to make things happen with his feet. That's not his game. That's not what he does.

So you have to keep a close eye on that. And I think if other teams and teams see that his arm strength is still good toward the end of the season, I don't think they'll have a problem doing some type of short term deal with him, whatever that may look like. I mean, his completion percentage his first year here was in the 70s. I think it was 71, 70 around there. And then every year it's been 69, 68, 67.

Last year it was 66. So keep an eye on that completion percentage. And first year in offense, I get it.

But hopefully that completion percentage will be somewhere closer to 70 than 68. I'll play a little GM here. Trey Lance is now third on the depth chart for the 49ers. Fifth round pick, sixth round pick. I would give it up to have him be the backup quarterback and maybe a guy that they could develop. If you can get that done, fifth round pick, sixth round pick, then yeah, I think that that's something that they'd have to explore because of the potential, purely potential. And that's again why you get drafted so highly. I don't know if we had a chance to see him on film, but that's why you have a whole staff full of pro personnel guys, right? You get a lot of eyes on him. Get a guy out there maybe to watch some practices in San Francisco and just make sure you know what you're doing before you make that commitment.

But that's definitely a possibility. Let's get to the final down. Pete Bursich here with us.

You start off the conversation discussing the defense. They're bringing Brian Flores to be the defensive coordinator. This unit was one of the worst in the league last year. They don't need to be great to make the playoffs. The question is can they just be serviceable? Can they be a top 20 unit with the changes that they made going into this season?

It's going to be, that's yet to be seen. This is the first year that Daniel Hunter's been able to just train in the off season and not rehab. So I'm looking forward to seeing him, see if he embraces the outside linebacker position because it's a very physical position. When you play 3-4 and you're an outside linebacker, you've got to have the height, weight, and speed, but you've got to be physical. Now Marcus Davenport, who we signed from New Orleans, I think he looks better, I think, at an outside linebacker position than he does as a D lineman.

Because when he was a D lineman, he was even in a 4-3, he was in a 2-point stance half the time anyway. Certain guys in the league, they'll call them stiff. They'll say they're stiff.

They don't bend real well. But those are also some of the guys that can hit the hardest. And he's very, very strong on the outside. So that's what Zadarius Smith brought and hopefully he will. We also have a rookie on draft, a tree agent in Calvin Pace who's looking that he's either going to start or get a lot of playing time. He's going to help us in the run game too.

He's going to have to learn the passing game. But I think we're going to be a little bit more physical. Linebackers are going to be a little bit more downhill.

So hopefully defending the run better. But we're just real young in the secondary. Andrew Boots going into his second year. Caleb Evans is going into his second year. Both those guys had problems staying healthy. So outside of Murphy, we're going to...Jowon Williams might be another option as well.

But again, it's a lot of question marks. And that's kind of the theme for this year's team. We need a lot of guys to step up. Pete Bursich, always appreciate the time. Enjoy the season. Thank you. All right, man. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-24 20:08:45 / 2023-08-24 20:14:12 / 5

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