Are the gaps in the Minnesota Vikings defense growing?


I’d like to believe that I’m good at a lot of things.  And as for the things I’m not good at, I would like to think that I work hard to become better at those things.  I focus on the parts of a skill that are weak, and work on strengthening them.  As for the parts of a skill that are strong, I focus less on them, and I hold on to them, merely fine tuning them.  Minor tweaks.

To say Minnesota’s defense needed help would be an understated statement.  Ranked 31st in YPG, they are the second worst defense in the NFL.  Even with Jared Allen throwing in 11.5 sacks.  To put this into perspective, we split the rush defense from the pass defense, the Vikings’ pass defense was ranked 31st out of 32.  Their rush defense, which of course involves the front seven, was ranked 16th.  A middle of the pack front seven is nothing to be sore about.  A second to last ranked pass defense is something to be concerned about.  Yet, the Vikings find it necessary to cut the second best tackler on the team.  Erin Henderson.

The linebacker core, many would argue, was the best part of the defense, as a whole.  Two of the top tacklers for the Vikings during the 2013 season were linebackers.  Chad Greenway, with 83 solo tackes, and Erin Henderson with 69.  Keep in mind, I am not taking anything away from Allen’s greatness in the trenches, but the front four was a pass rushing squad.  The linebackers were the run stoppers, as well as the short pass route stoppers.  Even big Kevin Williams only had 17 tackles.  It was a pass rushing front four.  The Vikings were tied for 13th in the NFL for sacks with 41.  Nothing to be ashamed of.  Where does the defensive problem lie?  ANSWER:  In the secondary.  They ranked dead last allowing 37 touchdowns and second to last in yards allowed.  Yet, Erin Henderson, the second highest tackler on the team was cut.  Not traded, cut.  Which now creates a problem in the one part of the defense that was actually effective.

Rumors are floating, and keep in mind that they’re rumors, that strong side linebacker Chad Greenway could be traded or cut as well.  Rather than working on parts of the team that need the most help, such as the receiving core, quarterback, or the secondary, Minnesota opts to rip apart the defenders that made an impact on the team.  And, with Allen most likely leaving the team to free agency, we can all agree that the front seven could potentially be nothing compared to what it was.

Let me also add that Henderson and Greenway led the Vikings, including any player in the secondary, in interceptions.  (3 for Greenway and 2 for Henderson).  The hit the Vikings would/will take by losing Henderson, and rumored Greenway will be a larger impact than any other move they could possibly make defensively, outside of Allen.

There has to be a plan in place.  New defensive coordinator, George Edwards, former Miami Dolphins linebacker coach, must see something in Audie Cole that can fill the large void of Henderson.  IF the rumors are true, and Greenway truly does leave Minnesota, I can say with confidence that Larry Dean will not supersede the talent and presence Greenway had on the field, which leaves Minnesota dangling in a very weak outside linebacker free agency, or, with yet another hole to fill in this year’s draft.

Erin Henderson is already gone.  There are rumors surrounding the departure of Chad Greenway, though nothing is confirmed, and hopefully will be squashed sooner than later.  Jared Allen has all but doffed the purple and gold.  Kevin Williams may be leaving the front four.  Of course the latter two are also unconfirmed until free agency picks up.  No draft can cover the amount of issues Minnesota have both offensively and defensively.  If all four of these players disappear from the great north, it leaves George Edwards and all of Minnesota pondering how they can make any sort of improvement in the 2014 season.  Of course, only one of these players has been confirmed with a departure from Minnesota in Erin Henderson.  Thoughts on these moves?  Albeit different from mine, and their impact outside of a glass half empty, if that’s possible.

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  • Scooter

    I have to say I think the glass is half full. The most likely thing for Greenway is he will restructure his contract, I haven’t heard rumors of any trade or him being cut. If they can’t re-sign Allen, they will try to keep Everson Griffen (also a free agent) or get someone like Michael Johnson (Zimmer connection) in free agency. They could lose Kevin Williams, but have Sharif Floyd waiting in the wings. They need to improve at linebacker and cornerback, but there are many free agent options out there and cap space isn’t a big problem for the Vikes. Zimmer is a smart defensive coach and will get the right pieces in place!

  • Anonymous

    To say that our linebackers were the stongest part of our defense is very faint praise. Erin Henderson was horrible last year. 69 tackles for a starting MLB? And Greenway looks very, very slow. Our secondary is horrible. But to say Linebackers were ok because they were better than the secondary? Not true. Every aspect of this defense was horrible. Defensive tackle play is horrendous as well. Our late round draft picks on defense have contributed very little.

  • richard vito

    erin henderson was terrible I watched every viking game he was average at best.he is terrible in coverage and out of position on alot of say it was a good part of our defense is a joke.good ridance he sucks.cole was much better. chad is slowing was out of position alot. excited if we switch tired of watching this unit .bring in mauti (some hungry guys).excited with new staff expecting to see immediate

  • Ekolu

    LB wasn’t a position of strength, they were just serviceable. Greenway will have to restructure his contract or be gone with all his missed tackles. Cole came in and made his presence felt. The question is whether he could be a fit in Zimmer’s defense. I believe the decision will be based on how he operates in traffic. Grrald Hodges should be ready to step up from special teams to WLB. I’m absolutely convinced that if Mauti can stay healthy, he’s an All-pro in waiting. I also believe he has position versatility with the intelligence, instincts, and toughness to play any linebacking position. If they cut Greenway, they will most certainly look to the draft. Players like Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr, Ryan Shazier, Kyle Van Noy should be available in the first 2 rounds.

  • Chuck

    Part of Greenway’s problem was playing with a broken wrist. I don’t see Greenway redoing his contract this year, maybe next year. It would not surprise me if the Vikings taking a stud LB in the first round.