Five questions with Paul Allen, the voice of the Vikings

Posted Sept. 22, 2011 @ 5:27 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

Paul Allen, host on KFAN radio in Minnesota and the play-by-play announcer for the Vikings flagship station, is always honest and outspoken. Pro Football Weekly caught up with him this week as the 0-2 Vikings host the 2-0 Lions in an intriguing divisional matchup. We asked Allen for his take on Percy Harvin, the two Vikings' poor finishes, whether Antoine Winfield is near the end and if the Lions are for real

PFW: Are you OK with Percy Harvin's role to this point?

PA: Well you know, all that stuff that emerged during the week kind of hit me out of nowhere. When I watch back the games, I am not counting the plays individuals play from a personnel standpoint. So if Percy Harvin indeed is playing 50 percent of the game, then I would need it explained to me why. It's obvious we're going to run Adrian (Peterson) and try to win with Adrian; he's averaging over 100 yards a game and is a home-run hitter pretty much every time he touches the ball. But Percy Harvin does it all, man. Coming into the season, I put him at 1,200 yards with 10 TDs — eight receiving and two rushing, and that doesn't even include the 103 (-yard kickoff return) at San Diego. If everything that has been reported is accurate, then I definitely think it's a question that needs to be answered.

PFW: What do you attribute the second-half difficulties to? It doesn't seem like it's any one specific thing.

PA: No. Here's a fair way to look at it: In my 10 years of calling games, it's as strange as I have seen. Especially that Buccaneers game. In the Chargers game, you know, Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, Ryan Mathews, Mike Tolbert, Antonio Gates … and to have them charge back at us and win, you know, I think that we could have won that game. But as the week went on, I kind of understood what happened and I was proud of the way the team played. I am really surprised we lost to the Buccaneers — especially after watching the first half. So from a standpoint of we're blitzing more now than we have in the past, teams are picking them up in the second half, and for whatever reason we are missing a lot of tackles in the second half. That includes a guy like Antoine Winfield, who missed a big tackle in the Chargers game with Ryan Mathews. On 3rd-and-12 (against the Bucs) he missed a huge tackle on Preston Parker in the middle of the field, and that ended up going for 51 yards. When you have guys like Antoine Winfield missing tackles, I guess it's good and bad. It's bad it's happening, but it's good that it's a guy like that who you know is going to get better.

PFW: So it's too soon to say that Antoine Winfield might be reaching his twilight then?

PA: I say no. He led us in tackles last week, and watching the game back, I have seen him get off fullbacks, I have seen him get off tight ends and he still gets to where he needs to be as well as he ever has. But he is in his 13th year, and I think it's fair to look at that and see how much cliché tread is left on that tire. But it's just shocking to me when Winfield misses a tackle, not three like he did in San Diego — misses one.

PFW: Have you sensed how big this game is for the Vikings considering the perception that the Lions have surpassed them?

PA: Well, we heard that coming up to the season. And my response to that is … you know, I am very good friends with Scott Linehan, their offensive coordinator. He was the coordinator here for four years; I know coaches on that staff. Shaun Hill, the backup quarterback, and I are good friends. I wish nothing but the best for the Lions. But my take as of right now is until they win divisional games on the road and until they win big-spot games on Thanksgiving and after Thanksgiving, I have got to see it to believe it. If they come up here and roll up and down the field on us and they beat us, do it with a really sound defense and that outstanding passing attack, then I will elevate them from a respect standpoint.

PFW: What will be a bigger headache on Sunday — the Lions' defensive line or their great passing game?

PA: You have to hit Matthew Stafford — he hasn't been hit one time this year. In the Buccaneers game, the first game of the season, they had zero sacks and two pressures (against the Lions) and didn't hit him one time. Now, this is not looking at Matthew like he is brittle or he's fragile and I am not championing knocking someone out for the year. But I want to see a stern pass rush against their line; they replaced their right tackle (Corey Hilliard for Gosder Cherilus). Jeff Backus is a veteran. Dominic Raiola for years. I want to see a return of Kevin Williams with Jared Allen in this building put a lot of pressure on Stafford and make him think the game quickly because it's just going so rhythmically right now, I can't believe it's going to be this good for the balance of the season.