Last season the Minnesota Vikings defense constantly struggled against opposing offensives, specifically in the secondary. On the other hand their defensive line was phenomenal, getting a league-high 50 sacks, 22 executed by defensive end Jared Allen.
The Vikings gave up the 2nd worst in the league 28.1 points per game and gave up over 358 yards per game. The average opponent quarterback rating was the best in the league against Minnesota with a 107.6 rating. The Vikings also gave up 34 passing touchdowns, the most allowed by a defense in the NFL. The defensive secondary had big problems with opposing quarterbacks, especially with elite quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, in which Brees passed for 412 yards with 5 touchdowns on 80% completion. In two games against the Vikings, Rodgers passed for a total of 585 yards and 7 touchdowns, completing 78.3% of his passes. Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield went down early last season with a broken clavicle that would put him on the bench for the remainder of the season. Cornerback Chris Cook also sat out a majority of the season due to his domestic violence case. Lastly, safety Hussain Abdullah sat out seven games as well because of injury. All of these factors untimely led to a horrific 3-13 season, tying a franchise worst record.
This offseason the Vikings management appointed Alan Williams as the new Minnesota defensive coordinator and tried their best to fill holes in the secondary starting with the NFL draft. With the 29th pick in the draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected safety Harrison Smith out of the University of Notre Dame. Harrison earned his spot as a starter to fill the space of the retired Hussain Abdullah. Cornerback Josh Robinson was selected with the 66th pick in the draft (3rd round) and has also received significant playing time. Both of them have strengthened the Minnesota defense as they have a combined 39 tackles, with Robinson recording the first interception for the Vikings this season. Chris Cook and Antoine Winfield returned this season as the starting corners, bettering the Vikings coverage and adding leadership. Chris Cook has had 16 tackles and 3 defended passes so far this season and Winfield has had an impressive 30 tackles, tying for 7th most in the league – once again pronouncing himself as a fearless player. He is debatabley one of the hardest hitting corners in the league. Winfield also has had 4 defended pass and 2 stuffs with his great ability to rush the passer and running back.
Chad Greenway and the Minnesota linebackers have been great this season . Chad Greenway currently leads the team in tackles with 44, tied for 2nd most in the NFL. He has also recorded 2 sacks. Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley has only half the amount of tackles compared to Greenway, with 22, but has exceeded a majority of expectations. Knowing Greenway is one of the best in the league at what he does, it’s nothing for Brinkley to be ashamed of. Outside linebacker Erin Henderson has missed the last two weeks due to injury (concussion) and Marvin Mitchell has take over in the mean time. The Vikings are anxious to get Henderson back on the field as he had 22 tackles in the first two weeks (tied with Brinkley, who has started all four games). The defensive pass rushing has been nothing short of explosive this season, as they have recorded 12 sacks, second best in the NFL. Jared Allen is not having the same season as last year, getting only 2 sacks through the first four games. At this rate he is on pace to finish the season with 8 sacks compared to his 22 last season.
With all of the new acquisitions made to the new Minnesota Vikings defense, they have improved in all aspects of the game. Through the first four games of the regular season the Vikings defense base given up a 7th best 18 points per game and have reduced the average opposing quarterbacks rating to 88.8. Minnesota has also held up very good against the run by allowing only one rushing touchdown, and have held the opponent’s rushing to 3.3 yards per carry for the 5th best in the NFL. In the passing defense their touchdown to interception ratio is 5-1. Overall the Vikings defense appears to be a completely different team with their new players, returning players, and a new defensive coordinator. The one big letdown in the Vikings defense in the lack of interceptions.