Vikings Defense Gets Time to Shine

Vikings Must Win in the Trenches on Thursday
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za'Darius Smith, left, and linebacker Jordan Hicks, right, celebrate with D.J. Wonnum. © Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings are 3-1 to open the 2022 NFL season, but that’s largely been a production of offensive dominance. When the Chicago Bears come to U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, it’ll be an opportunity for the defense to shine.

Let’s get this out of the way. Chicago is not a good football team. Bovada set the line at seven, noting Minnesota as a heavy favorite. While the Bears have two wins, their .500 record is hardly indicative of future expectations in 2022.

Although Chicago has seen success on the ground this season, ranking third in the NFL with 709 rushing yards, they’ve been equally abysmal through the air. Justin Fields has been held under 100 yards passing once and has yet to throw for 200 yards in a game. It’s time for Ed Donatell’s unit to lick its chops.

Vikings Corners Face First Test
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler Sr. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Cam Dantzler has had a few strong performances to date, Patrick Peterson has yet to make his mark, and Akayleb Evans is still looking for his breakthrough. Chandon Sullivan has been solid in his first year with Minnesota, and he’s got a chance to make an even greater impact this week.

The Vikings cornerbacks should be expected to take on all they can handle Sunday. Minnesota will likely look to shut down a running game that has seen Fields scramble alongside David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert out of the backfield. If the 3-4 front can shut down momentum between the tackles, the corners should be locked in when ball carriers look to bounce it outside.

Given the struggles Fields has as a passer, there should be no reason Minnesota can’t force pressure and a possible turnover or two in Week 5. To date, the Bears quarterback is completing only 50% of his passes, and he’s thrown four interceptions. There isn’t a strong stable of wide receivers at his disposal, which should also allow the Vikings to be aggressive in their coverage gameplan.

Ed Donatell Fails First Test
Sep 14, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports,

Throughout the season, the Vikings will need to go back and forth between the unit they’ll rely on during any given week. While the defense has lagged in recent seasons, it’s not something that should be a massive deficiency this year. The group has taken a small step forward, even if some veterans have aged.

Coming into the year, the cornerback room found themselves most scrutinized on the opposite side of the ball, and this could be a week where they shine. If Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter can get pressure from the edges on Fields early and often, plenty of passes should be ripe for the picking.

Look for the Vikings defense to circle this one as a get-right game, and hopefully, they’re celebrating when the dust settles, and the scoreboard reads zeroes.



Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.