Vikings New GM Finally Makes a Splash

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin .

The Minnesota Vikings are in a complete leadership overhaul as they head into the 2022 season. Until now, the Kwesi Adofo-Mensah hasn’t made a lot of moves. However, the Vikings’ new GM finally makes a splash this free agency. The Vikings’ are signing Za’Darius Smith.

This is the kind of move that fans have been waiting for since KAM took the reigns. The Vikings’ defensive line has been porous the last couple of years. Some fans may remember the Christmas game of 2020 when Alvin Kamara absolutely destroyed us. Hopefully, those porous, soft defensive line days are behind us.

The addition of Za’Darius Smith, with Danielle Hunter on the opposite side, will no doubt bolster the defensive line. When he is healthy, he is one of the better pass rushers in the NFL, as Vikings fans are acutely aware. I remember watching a Packers vs. Vikings game and saw Smith line up over Pat Elflein and call the sack that inevitably happened.

Well, fellow Vikings fans, that guy is now playing for us, and we should be ecstatic.

New Vikings’ GM Creates New Purple People Eaters

If you are too young to remember and haven’t researched the history of the Vikings, I highly recommend it. The Purple People Eaters were a menacing group. Who were they:

  • Alan Page: 9 Pro Bowls, NFL MVP, Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • Carl Eller: 6 Pro Bowls, Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • Jim Marshall: 2 Pro Bowls (should be in the Hall of Fame)
  • Gary Larsen: 2 Pro Bowls

This group led the Vikings to 4 Super Bowls but, unfortunately, never finished the job. Although, there is no denying that they were the group that established the Vikings’ culture. What was that culture? Being mean, vicious, and violent. They even had a motto: “Meet at the Quarterback.”

Sep 12, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Green Bay Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) stands on the sidelines during the game against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With the signing of Za’Darius Smith, the Vikings have the makings of what could once again live up to the group that paved the way of Vikings’ history. With the Vikings’ GM bringing in Smith, the Vikings starting defensive line for 2022 is set to be:

  • Danielle Hunter – 2021 PFF Grade 80.8
  • Za’Darius Smith – 2020 PFF Grade 76.7 (injured in 2021)
  • Dalvin Tomlinson – 2021 PFF Grade 74.9
  • Harrison ‘Horrible Harry’ Phillips – 2021 PFF Grade 77.4

All four of these guys relish physicality and are not afraid to do the dirty work. This is a similar attitude that the Purple People Eaters had during their heyday.

How the New Unit Will Work Together

We shouldn’t look at this unit through rose-colored glasses as there are certainly some concerns. For example, Za’Darius Smith is coming off of a back injury that required surgery, and Danielle Hunter is coming off of a pectoral injury that required surgery as well. However, these two guys are elite-level athletes, and sports medicine is magnificent, which means they could come back stronger than ever.

The most fascinating part of this group is that they are selfless players. You don’t get the sense of them caring about who gets the sack or tackle for loss. No, they seem perfectly content in doing their job.

Horrible Harry said exactly this during his introductory press conference. Playing a role on the defensive line is more important than pure production numbers. The defensive tackles have a responsibility to eat up double teams and let the linebacker roam freely. The defensive ends are responsible for rushing the quarterback and setting the edge.

These four players are capable of doing all the above. With them at the front of the defensive attack, Vikings fans have every reason to be excited.