The Minnesota Vikings season opener at Cincinnati is 94 days away. Fans are excited to watch this team again. Even being at training camp will be more exciting than usual given how last season unfolded.
From 2005-2010 that number 94 was worn by defensive tackle Pat Williams, but now it belongs to current Vikings defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who was the team’s biggest free agent acquisition at two-years/$22 million. Before that Tomlinson spent the previous four seasons with the New York Giants. He also started in all 64 games since entering the league as a second-round pick (55th overall) out of Alabama.
While Tomlinson is known more for stopping the run, he is a decent pass rusher – totaling seven sacks the previous two seasons. The Vikings defense struggled mightitly last season, ranking 27th overall in the league last season, and their 29.7 points per game allowed was 29th.
They also allowed 134.4 rushing yards per game (27th). Tomlinson and Michael Pierce will help this team’s rush defense mightily along with the defense as a whole.
“All I can assume is I’m going to play a little bit of three-tech and shade as they go hand in hand together,” Tomlinson said. “I feel like I’m pretty stout at the run game and I can bring a good element of the run game to the Minnesota Vikings as well as pass rush to get after the quarterback and collapse the pocket. Like Mr. Spielman said, I want to get the quarterback as well and play the run also.”
Lack of depth and injuries really hurt this defense. Tomlinson will be a big boost to this team as will both Danielle Hunter (barring a holdout) and Anthony Barr. Minnesota also signed Patrick Peterson, Mackensie Alexander, Xavier Woods and Bashaud Breeland and could potentially sign others.
This defense should be drastically improved from last season, with Tomlinson’s presence being part of the reason why. His ability to stop the run and rush the passer should make him the team’s biggest offseason acquisition. He also will open things up for others.
This defense has a great chance to be top-10, perhaps even top-five if they can stay healthy and perhaps add one more pass rusher. You have to imagine Mike Zimmer is jumping in joy thinking about those possibilities.
The duo of Pat and Kevin Williams was a great one for the Vikings from 2005-2010. Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph only got to play two full seasons together. Tomlinson and Pierce could perhaps man the middle together for at least the next three years. Seeing those two together should be exciting. They likely won’t be as good as the Williams Wall, but should still be very good together.