Week 2 Defensive Preview

We’re 2 days from game day again and as Teddy Bridgewater has been saying, tt’s a blessing it’s a short week because you can erase the memory of Monday night’s blow out even faster.

It’s hard to say the loss to San Francisco was on any one player or unit, but the defense certainly didn’t help their case. Although they forced short drives and did give the offense a chance to stay in the game, their poor tackling, pursuit and run defense wasn’t encouraging.

Detroit comes to town this weekend with an even more potent offense than the 49ers. If the Vikings stand a chance at winning, the defense needs to be much improved. Where do we even start?

Stopping The Playmakers:

Detroit isn’t short of dangerous players. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate are the center of the Detroit downfield passing game. Xavier Rhodes will have a chance to prove that he is indeed a lock down cornerback as he will spend a lot of the day lined up across from Johnson. We’ll have to ask a lot of Captain Munnerlyn as the task of keeping Tate in check will likely fall on his shoulders.

When it comes to running the ball, Detroit certainly has options. They have bruiser Joique Bell, who seemingly always scores against the Vikings and proves to be a dangerous runner, especially if the defense struggles to tackle well as they did against San Francisco.

To counter Bell’s inside power running, Detroit deploys rookie Ameer Abdullah, who is not short on speed and can stretch the defense with runs towards the boundary.

With Abdullah in the mix, the Vikings will absolutely have to be better at pursuit than they were two nights ago. You can bottle Abdullah up at the line of scrimmage, but in a drop of a hat, he can bounce it outside and pick up yards in a hurry. We saw Carlos Hyde do this well and hurt the Vikings a number of times.

That Game In The Trenches:

The Vikings have to win at the line of scrimmage – they just have to be better than they did in week 1. Even our best defensive lineman, Everson Griffen, looked so out of place against the 49ers. For Brian Robison, when you get the the quarterback, you have to finish the job!

In terms of ProFootballFocus standards, Detroit did not grade out well vs. San Diego, posting a -5.1 grade in pass protection and -2.8 in run blocking. That sounds encouraging for the Vikings, but then you realize the Vikings scored a -17.1 in run defense, the worst grade given to any defense.

The fact that Matthew Stafford is far less mobile than Colin Kaepernick should help the Vikings. The threat of Stafford hurting us with his legs simply isn’t as large and the Vikings should be able to collapse the pocket on Stafford.

The other component of success to this is that the secondary can maintain their coverage, something that wasn’t done all that well in San Francisco. Too many times it looked like they feared Kaepernick would take off running (for good reason) and would drop their coverage, only for Kaepernick to find an open receiver just as he got back to the line of scrimmage.


Is it too early to hit the panic button with this football team? Absolutely. Do PFF grades tell the entire story? Not necessarily.

There is no doubting that the Vikings need to improve defensively in order to win on Sunday. You have to remember that Detroit is coming into week 2 after giving up a 21-3 lead to San Diego. They’re equally fired up and don’t want to start 0-2 either.

It’s hard to say this is a must win game, but since 2007, only four teams have made the playoffs after starting 0-2. You have two teams who have strong playoff hopes and don’t want to become a part of that statistic.

In order to avoid that, they’ll need to out scheme and play a talented Detroit team.

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Brent LaBathe

Brent LaBathe (Contributor) Cloud technology leader by day, sports nut by night, Brent is a local purple diehard who's passion for the team boarders on obsession. After graduating from St. Cloud State in 2008, he was a contributing writer for and has always had a passion for writing. When he's not cursing his golf clubs for failing him yet again, he's constantly on twitter @BrentLaBathe.

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