By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings boast Pro Bowl caliber players at each level of their defense. The defensive line is led by Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Kevin Williams, and there is Chad Greenway at linebacker and Harrison Smith in the secondary.
In the offseason, the team added two first round draft picks, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes, to the mix. Defensive ends Brian Robison and Everson Griffen and linebacker Erin Henderson looked ready to have breakout years.
Yet the unit ranks 30th in points allowed per game (31.6), 31st in the league in net yards allowed per game (418.0), 29th in passing yards allowed per game (308.0) and 17th in rushing yards allowed per game (110.0) – all bottom half of the league numbers.
Most concerning though is the points, especially with the offense ranking 10th in the league with 25 points per game.
“Points are a big deal. Third down, red zone, defense, too many four-minute, those are things we talk about and work on all the time,” head coach Leslie Frazier said. “Points are critical to your success so we are definitely giving up too many points at this point and we’ve got to work to get that number down in order for us to have a chance to have a winning football team. It’s something we’ll continue to work on and continue to do the things that are necessary to improve that number.”
There is not an easy answer and Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers was a perfect example.
“We’ve got some work to do,” Frazier said. “No more evident than (Sunday). It’s obvious we have a lot of work to do. But we’ve got some time to get it corrected, we’ve got an extra day this week to work on our defense and our offense and our special teams. We’re going to utilize that time to try to get better with the guys that we have and I think we will. I think that we will get better.”
The Vikings play the New York Giants on Monday this week at MetLife Stadium.
Bishop lost for the season
The Vikings signed Desmond Bishop in June to provide depth and eventually become one of its three starting linebackers.
That time came Sunday when the seventh-year veteran unseated Marvin Mitchell as the starter at weak side linebacker. The optimism that he could be the full-time starter ended in the second quarter ended when the 6-foot-2-inch, 238-pound linebacker suffered a knee injury. It was revealed on Monday that Bishop suffered a season-ending torn ACL.
“I thought as we gave him more opportunities leading up to yesterday’s ball game that he had shown that he was ready to get a starting assignment and I wanted him to solidify it through his play in that ball game (Sunday) and unfortunately he got injured,” Frazier said. “He was playing well up to the injury so it was more the work that he had done that impressed up me and the coaches that he was ready for a start and it was a matter of how he would play would determine if he was going to hold onto that spot.”
Bishop, who was signed to a one-year contract, had five total tackles in four games played this season.
Starting quarterback named on Wednesday
Frazier said during his Monday press conference that he would like to have his starting quarterback in place when the team gets resumes practice on Wednesday.
“We’re going to talk about it today and tomorrow because we’ve got to put the game plan together,” he said. “We’re going to try to have a conclusion by Wednesday so we can go out and get that guy the reps he needs for the game.”
Recently signed Josh Freeman is expected to be the starter after Sunday’s loss. However, there are still questions as to whether the 25-year-old has learned enough of the playbook.
“I want to talk with him a little bit and just pick his brain some and talk through some things and just see where he is,” Frazier said. “Our offensive coaches will do the same.”
The Vikings signed Freeman to a very lucrative one-year contract after he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers less than two weeks ago.
For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.