Is Za’Darius Smith Everyone’s New Favorite Viking? 

Is Za’Darius Smith Everyone’s New Favorite Viking? 
Miami Dolphins quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) gets sacked by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za'Darius Smith (55) during the fourth quarter of an NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Oct. 16, 2022. Vikings V Dolphins 43

He was the Vikings biggest free agent acquisition this season, and after only seven games wearing the purple of Minnesota, is Za’Darius Smith everyone’s new favorite Viking?

That is an amazing thing to say about someone who came to the Vikings after three years in Green Bay. However, Smith has had a massive impact in many ways in his short time in Minnesota.

He’s made those who doubted he could come back and play at a high level on the field after missing almost all of the 2021 season with a back injury look foolish. Smith is fourth in the league for pressures through eight games with 37. He also has 8.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 12 QB hits, and 1 pass deflection — all while carrying a niggling knee injury for several weeks.

Pro Football Focus gives him an overall grade of 85.1, which is second only to Christian Darrisaw (85.8) among Vikings players. It also ranks 10th amongst all edge defenders across the league. The Vikings couldn’t have wished for Smith to have a more significant impact. Stats like he has put up in the opening eight games of the season will soon make you a fan favorite.

Defensive Player of the Month

Smith received the accolade of Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Arizona Cardinals last week, and Defensive Player of the Month for October soon followed. Smith has been a force to be reckoned with since arriving in Minnesota.

What makes it even better is he only counts for $3.1 million against the Vikings salary cap this season. Meanwhile, he counts for $11.4 of dead money against the Green Bay Packers salary cap.

Per PFF, the Vikings Top 2022 Players from Best to Worst: After Week 6
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings fans would find that situation amusing if it were with any team. The fact it’s with the Packers makes it even better, and Vikings fans have been letting the Packers know about it. Smith was disappointed that he was let go by the Packers and came to Minnesota hungry to prove his former employers made a mistake. With the Vikings already way out in front in the NFC North division, thanks in no small part to Smith. It looks like a blunder.

Upbeat Personality

Smith doesn’t just bring his playmaking talents to the team. He also brings personality. Both on and off the field, he is a ball of energy. The Vikings wanted a change of culture with the appointments of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as general manager and Kevin O’Connell as head coach. Smith was the perfect signing to start that culture — a veteran player of the highest standard with an upbeat personality and engaging attitude.

You can see how much Smith is enjoying life in Minnesota. His huge smile is always on show and has been a breath of fresh air since he arrived. The same can be said about this whole Vikings team this season. They are fun to watch on and off the field, and we see more personality from the players and coaching staff.

Even Kirk Cousins and Harrison Smith, who have always had a reputation for being quite reserved, are letting their guard down and enjoying themselves. That starts with the leadership and prominent personalities like Smith.

What’s not to like?