Erin Henderson watched Blair Walsh kick a 36 yard field goal to tie the game at 10 all against the Greenbay Packers on Monday night. With 5:09 left in the 2nd quarter, Henderson trotted out on the field to direct the defense in a critical junction of the game. Greenbay started the drive on their own 20 yard line. On 1st and 10 Eddy Lacy took the hand off from Aaron Rodgers and was tackled for a 2 yard loss on a great play by Henderson. Rodgers then dumped the ball off to Lacy on 2nd and 12 as Henderson fought through a block from guard Josh Sitton and held the play to a short gain. It was 3rd and long when Greenbay broke the game wide-open. The Vikings were in a nickle formation, which they had used for most of the game, Henderson and Marcus Sherels both blitzed while Everson Griffen dropped back into coverage from his DT position. Rodgers read it perfectly and hit Jordy Nelsen with a quick pass over the middle just outside of Chad Greenway’s coverage. Greenway, Everson Griffen and Andrew Sendejo all struggled to make the tackle as Nelson raced 76 yards for the score.
On the previous defensive series, Henderson, the Vikings leading tackler, had nice stops on 2nd and short and also on 3rd and short. Henderson finished the game with 7 tackles and 7 assists to lead the way for the Vikings.
Chad Greenway has led the team in tackles each of the last five years, but the new man in the middle could end that streak this season. Henderson had 12 tackles and 2 assists against the Giants in week 7 as he continues to mature and develop as a defensive leader and MLB. Henderson stole many of the headlines during camp and preseason… and now he is “quietly” leading this team with 69 tackles and 2 interception.
I think Erin has good instinct against the run. He lines up deep off the line of scrimmage most of the time, but he is quick enough in his read and reaction to still constantly be in position to makes tackles for loss or no gain. At times, I can see Henderson struggle to fight through blocks or to stay focused on his own gab responsibilities. Henderson is a solid tackler when he is moving forward and attacking the ball.
5 things I would like to see from Erin Henderson in the second half of the season:
1) It is a pass happy league, a couple more interceptions would be great. Dallas could be a good place for another int.
2) I know he can fly around and make tackles on the outside… I want to see him develop into a solid force on plays right up the middle.
3) Finishing the season with more tackles than Chad Greenway would be a big deal.
4) The Vikings defense is on track to be one of the worst units in Vikings history. I want to see Henderson’s leadership help turn things around down the stretch?
5) Henderson has 3 sacks, only 1.5 behind team leader Jared Allen. Can Henderson out sack the great Jared Allen?