QB change, Smoot's injury keyed turnaround

Surprisingly, Minnesota's defensive turnaround started with a change on offense and an injury to a heralded free-agent signee.

Updated: December 22, 2005, 2:23 PM ET
By Gary Horton | Scouts Inc.
After watching film of the Vikings' 38-13 loss to the Panthers in Week 8 that dropped them to 2-5, it was easy to write them off. They didn't tackle. Cornerback Fred Smoot got routinely burned by Steve Smith on the outside. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper left the game with a torn knee. The team seemingly had given up.

Through those first seven games, the Vikings gave up 27.5 points per game and had only 10 takeaways, six of them interceptions. Over the course of the next six games -- all Vikings victories -- they have allowed 15.5 points per game, have 22 takeaways and 17 interceptions.

So what has been the biggest factor in the turnaround of this opportunistic defense? Well, it starts on the other side of the ball.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.