Minnesota Vikings Run Defense and Secondary Need to Step Up

Vikings Defense
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The Minnesota Vikings defense, like this season, has been a frustrating mix of dominating and pathetic. Only the Vikings could beat the best team in the NFC, and also lose to the worst team in the NFC. And while the offense ranks towards the top of the league in most categories, the defensive ranks, to quote Hot Rod, bounce around like a beach ball at a Nickelback concert. Specifically, the Vikings pass rush is first in the NFL in sacks, yet the team is 29th in overall defense. Something doesn’t add up here.

Minnesota Vikings Run Defense and Secondary Need to Step Up

Pass Rush Carrying Defense

Yes, it’s true. The Danielle Hunter-less Vikings lead the NFL in sacks with 41. The next closest has 37. To make that fact even more impressive, 16 different players have recorded at least half a sack. It’s also a bit strange that, despite the injured Hunter not recording a sack since October 10th, he still leads the team with six. And yet, no one gets to the quarterback more than the Vikings. Being number one in anything is always a good feeling. However, the Vikings rank 29th in overall defense and 25th in points allowed. Not great. So how can a team so dominant in the pass rush, putting opponents in third and long situations, fall nearly dead last in yards allowed? Well, that’s where the beach ball comes into play; the Vikings are really bad at most other things.

Run Defense is Lackluster

Even though the pass rush has been great, the run defense is another story entirely. They allow 4.7 yards per carry, which is tied for 31st, and 129.5 yards per game, which is 27th. The signings of Dalvin Tomlinson and Michael Pierce were supposed to solidify the interior and bolster the run defense. The plan to roll out 1,200 pounds to the line of scrimmage and dare teams to try and squeeze by hasn’t really worked. The fact that the run defense is bad though isn’t the surprising part here. The surprising part is the defense is worse than anything Leslie Frazier and Brad Childress ever put out on the field. The last time the Vikings gave up this many rush yards a game was actually last year. But before that, it was 2001!

Pass Defense is Underwhelming

Beyond the quarterback pressure, the secondary hasn’t held up its end of the bargain. They are notorious for giving up big plays and touchdowns. They rank 26th in yards per attempt allowed and 28th in touchdowns allowed. Blown coverage is a recurring theme that seems like can be fixed. With a group featuring Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland, Mackensie Alexander, Kris Boyd, and Cameron Dantzler, one would have expected better play.

Head Coach Mike Zimmer had this to say in his post-game press conference after the Pittsburgh Steelers game: “The thing I’m disappointed with the corners is, you know, a guy got a cut split and they line up head up on the guy and give him a chance to get there. The guy is supposed to be on top of the receiver, they’re running hip to hip with him. Those kinds of things are really disappointing.” Alignment and technique issues still causing pain points in week 14 is, suffice to say, a tad concerning.

What’s Next for Vikings Defense?

The Vikings pass rush is easily the one bright spot on the defense this year. It’s somewhat shocking they lead the league without their best player. But ultimately, the other areas need to pick it up. With four games remaining and playoff implications on the line, it’s now or never. The Vikings will face the Chicago Bears twice, and the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams. Two of those three quarterbacks are excellent and masters of their craft and will give the Vikings defense all they can handle. And the other is Aaron Rodgers.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images