Question Of The Week

Vikings Suddenly Searching for Sacks

Three years in, and Mike Zimmer’s finally at the head of the NFL’s most dominant defense. It took some time and a few bumps along the road, but the Minnesota Vikings have a chance to go down as a historically great unit.

Outside of the loyal fan base, analysts and professional “football watchers” are taking notice, too; Matt Bowen  of ESPN Insider had this to say about the new Purple People Eaters:

[quote_box_center]”This unit under [Head Coach] Mike Zimmer continues to create panic and turnovers. Through six games, the Vikings are holding opposing quarterbacks to a ridiculously low Total QBR (25.6), and Minnesota is tied with Seattle at the top of the NFL for points allowed per game (14.0). They have a dynamic mix of extremely smart coaching and versatile talent at all three levels of the field. That’s tough to plan against.”[/quote_box_center]

Despite these strengths, the Vikings find themselves in a bit of a rut. In the team’s last three games, they’ve gone without a sack twice. Much of that starts with Minnesota’s opponents; offensive coordinators know the Vikings can generate pressure, and in turn adjust game plans accordingly. Quarterbacks are getting the football out quickly, receivers aren’t attacking the deep area of the field, and in general, offenses aren’t moving the football against the Vikings.

It’s a positive in that pressure, even without production, is fundamentally changing the way offenses try to attack Zimmer’s defense.

But sacks can help flip field position, create turnovers, and allow more flexibility on the back end. There’s nothing suggesting the Vikings won’t get back on track, but it is frustrating to see such a talented defense fail to take the quarterback down.

I may be frustrated, but that’s just one man’s opinion. How does the rest of the Vikings Territory team feel about the suddenly-sackless Vikings?

Everyone’s talking about the offensive line, but Mike Zimmer’s defense was held without a sack on Sunday. Are you concerned?

Adam Warwas

I am not concerned about the pass rush not getting home against the Eagles. They were facing an athletic quarterback that needed to be contained, and they did a fine job of keeping Wentz largely under wraps in both the run game and in the passing attack. This defense will almost certainly be facing teams that have prepared for getting rid of the ball quick, because the pass rush is so dominant, and those opposing offenses will largely sacrifice their downfield passing game as a result. Taking away that dimension of an opponent’s offense is a victory in itself and the lack of a pass rush is not something I saw as a top reason for Sunday’s loss. If you take the special teams score off the scoreboard, we are all talking about how the defense did their job well in Philadelphia.

Taking away that dimension of an opponent’s offense is a victory in itself and the lack of a pass rush is not something I saw as a top reason for Sunday’s loss. If you take the special teams score off the scoreboard, we are all talking about how the defense did their job well in Philadelphia.

Carl Knowles

Carson Wentz didn’t beat the Vikings by standing in the pocket and pushing the ball down the field. Philly used shotgun play action quick timing routes to offset and avoid a strong Vikings’ pass rush. I’ll take a no-sack performance any day of the week when the defense can force two interceptions and hold a quarterback to 138 yards passing with a dismal 4.9 yards per attempt. Wentz’s 52.4 quarterback rating against the Vikings was his lowest of the season. His 57% completion rate was also among his worst outings of the year.

Sam Neumann

Yeah, I would’ve liked them to get more pressure on the quarterback, and I don’t think their lack of sacks was solely due to Philadelphia’s game plan…but they’ll be fine. This defense is talented and well-coached, and they’ll find a way to hit the quarterback more. Defensively, the Vikings put together an effort good enough to win the game and put Carson Wentz on the worst game of his young career. If the lack of quarterback pressure becomes a trend, then it’s a story, but for now, I’m not concerned.

Brent LaBathe

Zimmer has commented many times that his defense is not intended for those who seek top line personal stats. The defense is built around discipline within specific responsibilities. Knowing this, I will sacrifice a couple of sacks for Everson Griffen for a sound defensive system that creates pressure and forced decisions – which will, in turn, create turnovers. Quarterbacks and teams will adjust to an aggressive front seven and if they are forced to make quick decisions and short passes, I’m okay with that.

Adam Patrick

Not really too concerned about the Vikings defense in the least bit. They are still generating tons of pressure and preventing opposing quarterbacks from really doing anything. Only Mariota threw for more multiple touchdowns on them this season. For now, there are zero worries in my neck of the woods.

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Austin Belisle

Austin Belisle is the West Coast's biggest Vikings fan, a football diehard cheering on the purple and yellow from sunny California. After graduating from San Jose State University in 2014, he began working full-time in corporate marketing and blogging on various sports websites. Austin's passion for the Vikings led him to Vikings Territory, where he hopes to share his lifelong enthusiasm for the team with readers on a daily basis. You can follow him on Twitter @austincbelisle

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  1. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the momentum swing a sack can provide, but as long as they get off the field, not giving up the points– sacks don’t matter

  2. Personally, I would like to see them send a few more pass rushers, especially when playing against teams with reasonably strong offensive lines. While the defense actually played really well and didn’t give up a ton of plays, bringing down the quarterback does more damage than losing a few yards. No quarterback likes getting hammered, especially from the blindside and repeated hits cause all sorts of problems for them. Also, as we unfortunately saw on the weekend, sacks often lead to fumbles if executed well. If our secondary is as good as we think they are, they should be able to cover long enough for the extra pressure to get there..

    The games against Dallas and Redskins will definitely require more aggression in the pass rush, I don’t think Zim can rely on a 4 man rush will bringing too much pressure. I love Griffin, but he has been a bit slow the last couple of weeks and I think he will struggle against their elite tackles too.

  3. Zim will use his defensive studs differently for each type of team he faces. The game he called against Wentz was the right one. The defense game them three chances in the red zone so you can’t do much better than that in the NFL. The offense just screwed the pooch and we lost the game.

  4. The title of your article is very misleading, Austin.
    I used to search for sacks in my tow truck every weekend until Mike Kano entered my life.