Vikings-Chargers matchup of the day: Wednesday

Posted Sept. 07, 2011 @ 2:18 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Vikings-Chargers game:

Vikings QB Donovan McNabb vs. Chargers safeties

Part of the adapted passing game in Minnesota will have to rely on a little more play-action and pocket movement than with Brett Favre. The expectation is that the offense will look far more like it did with Tarvaris Jackson under center — even with coordinator Darrell Bevell gone — than it did with Favre.

Donovan McNabb looks off safeties well, moves his eyes and is able to go through his progressions. He features one of the lowest interception ratios of all time, even with a 15-pick season in 13 starts last season in Washington.

This skill will be essential with only one receiver who truly can separate, and that's Percy Harvin. TEs Visanthe Shiancoe (his hamstring should allow him to play) and Kyle Rudolph are playmakers relative to their position; Bernard Berrian has speed over the top, and Michael Jenkins is, if nothing else, a crafty route runner.

So McNabb must keep an eye on the Chargers' trio of safeties and try to move them around as much as possible to make them go where he wants. Eric Weddle, the highest-paid safety in the NFL, is a great center fielder who also can play deep halves well. Bob Sanders has been in the mix as an early-down defender, mostly in the box. And Steve Gregory is a starting-caliber third safety who is on the field a lot and can play in space or up in the box or over the slot receiver. You will see all three on the field at times, too.

It's difficult to predict how much man and zone the Chargers will play under new coordinator Greg Manusky. They were a heavy cover-2 outfit under former coordinator Ron Rivera, who left to take the Panthers' head-coaching job.