Pro Football Weekly asked Vikings play-by-play announcer Paul Allen five questions — plus a bonus sixth question — in one of the more exciting weeks in team history following the Randy Moss trade.
PFW: Did you ever think Randy Moss would be a Viking again considering what happened in his first turn in Minnesota?
PA: I can’t say I never thought he would be a Viking again because when you have the Wilf family as your owners, they are from the New York/New Jersey area and they treat this very much like a New York-area team. Even though we are bottom of the league in in-house revenue because of our bad building, they always spend the money to make the team better. So if a mercurial talent like that becomes available, the Wilf family will be a family to go out and get him.
PFW: Because of how he’s arriving — as a savior of sorts — do you think most fans have moved on from any ill will they held toward Moss from back then?
PA: I never really felt like people held any ill will towards him. The day Merril Hoge came out on ESPN — it was 2000, (and he) said, ‘He plays when he wants to play,’ showing some examples of run plays going one way and Moss not blocking — Randy responded that day at the Silverdome with three touchdowns. So Randy hasn’t always responded to negativity extremely well, but with the Twins in the playoffs against the Yankees, everyone wants to talk about Randy Moss and no one wants to talk about Joe Mauer.
PFW: How involved do you think Brett got in this process, if at all?
PA: Well, the head coach said (Tuesday) Brett played no factor. I’m not going to say the head coach fabricates the story because I really don’t know enough about it. But I know through three games this year, Brett has been a different guy than he was last year. Last year we were 3-0, and this year we are 1-2. So I think Brett knows, to be as good as he was last year, we need an on-field threat like Randy. And now that we got it, I expect us to rattle off a bunch of wins.
PFW: So is Moss going to be a savior? Can he and Brett hook up on 9 routes and do some of the same things Sidney provided last season?
PA: Sidney has had one good year. And before we can call Sidney a trend, we need to see it with Moss. Randy is a first-ballot Hall of Fame guy. Even beginning in this Jets game Monday night, even if he doesn’t come up with seven catches for 190 yards and three TDs, it’s going to be interesting to see how the coverage drifts his way and opens things up for Adrian Peterson and the rest of the gang.
PFW: Now that receiver has been addressed, what’s the Vikings’ biggest issue?
PA: Well, we have a lot of star power on this team. This in no way is to make us sound like the 2000 Ravens or the ’85 Bears, but now that our defense is completely healthy, I think we should finish the season with one of the three best defenses in the NFL. We give up 12.5 points per game (actually 12.7) — I think that’s third-best right now. But this is by far the best overall defense I have seen in my nine years of doing play-by-play. And it’s better than the ’98 defense. The ’98 defense might have been (ranked) fifth, seventh, something like that, but the team was always up 14, 17 points in the first quarter. So players were able to jump routes and gamble and try a bunch of different things. This Vikings defense, not only is it lean against the run, but with this kid from Virginia, Chris Cook, that we got, he’s going to be an extremely good player. He’s very physical, and we’re as good on the back end as we have been in a long time.
PFW: Some people might argue it’s the offensive line that’s the weak spot right now.
PA: You know, a lot of people harp on the offensive line up here, and I don’t … really, Phil Loadholt has not had a great start to his season so far. So, I think Phil needs to jump up and play. (Bryant) McKinnie is playing pretty well. We lost our center (John Sullivan) in the Detroit game; I am not sure if he’s going to play against the Jets. But when you run for 392 yards like Adrian Peterson has done, that’s part of the equation, too. So I think people forget about the run blocking, the road-grading with this offensive line, and they simply look at pass protection. Really, I don’t think that’s a fair way to look at it. Anytime people get after the Vikings’ offensive line, then I challenge them to find me six better (groups) in the National Football League. Off the top of my head, New Orleans, Baltimore, maybe Carolina … you know, there are not many, left to right, that I would switch offensive lines with.
Paul Allen is the voice of the Vikings and host of the “PA” show on KFAN radio in Minneapolis-St. Paul.