A Different Kind Of Challenge

The 4-1 Minnesota Vikings have faced quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert, Andrew Luck, Alex Smith, Matt Stafford, and Matt Hasselbeck so far this season.  Through five weeks these guys have rushed 59 times for 302 yards and two touchdowns.

Robert Griffin III alone, however, has rushed 42 times for 241 yards and four touchdowns (and a concussion).

That concussion could keep RGIII off the field this Sunday, giving the Vikings their second backup quarterback in a row, but all of the reports on Monday suggest that Leslie Frazier’s Vikings will, at the very least, need to spend this week preparing to face their first uber-athletic quarterback of the season.

RGIII has taken the league by storm, right up until he got blown up this week, and is making a strong bid to be 2012’s rookie of the year.  The Vikings have struggled against scrambling throwers in the recent past, but this defense has a very different feel to it.

Let’s take a look at how the Vikings defense might approach the new challenge that RGIII presents:

Spy Games

One of the most tried-and-true approaches to stopping a flight risk quarterback is to assign a “spy” to that player.  A defender with the discipline, intelligence, and instincts to prevent a guy like RGIII from ripping off big chunks of yardage on the ground.

Antoine Winfield, Chad Greenway, and Harrison Smith all come to mind as guys that might fit that bill and they could be key in keeping Griffin under wraps.  Ideally, the Vikings would be able to rotate “spy” duties throughout the defense to keep the Redskins guessing, and to perhaps sneak a few plays in there where no spy is actually assigned.

Mix It Up

Griffin has received plenty of praise for his ability to make good reads and stay cool under pressure.  He is still a rookie, however, and the Vikings could be well served by showing a lot of different packages and blitzes.  The team has recently made a new commitment to “keeping it simple,” but rookie quarterbacks are prone to make mistakes and confusing him could only play to our advantage.

I would be very pleased to see Winfield, Josh Robinson, or even Marcus Sherels blitz fromt eh corner from time to time, aiming for Griffin’s blind side.

Match That Athleticism

Veteran smarts and savvy cannot be undervalued on this young defense, but sometimes athleticism like Griffin’s needs to be matched with athleticism.  In this case, matching Griffin with Griffen could be very interesting.

I would, at least slightly, increase Everson Griffen’s snap count this week.  Griffen is almost certainly the most athletic player on this defense and he needs to be included in the effort to stop RGIII.  For his size, Griffen is incredibly fast and has long limbs, both of which would help him pursue Griffin on the run.

Simple Basics

Kevin Williams opened last week’s game by letting a tackle for a loss and then a sack slip right through his fingers.  Those types of missed tackles might be a side note in the aftermath of a game against Matt Hasselbeck and the Titans, but Griffin and the Redskins are more dangerous on offense and those miscues can easily turn into important game changers in the blink of an eye.

Williams and the rest of the defense have to make sure to take advantage of the opportunities they do get.  This is a tougher task than the Titans were, and missed tackles and dropped interceptions are not something we want to be the main focus after this weekend.