Vikings Have an EDGE Problem

Sep 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings fans react during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

EDGE rusher Marcus Davenport joined the Minnesota Vikings in March for one year and $13 million and has not played through three games because of an ankle injury.

His timetable to debut is unknown.

Vikings Have an EDGE Problem

In Davenport’s stead, the Vikings have turned to D.J. Wonnum and Patrick Jones for snaps opposite Danielle Hunter on the defensive line, and not much has materialized.

Therefore, Minnesota has an EDGE rusher problem, with Hunter as the team’s only saving grace in the department.

Have an EDGE
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

VikingsTerritory’s Sean Borman tweeted Monday morning, one day after the Vikings fell to 0-3 following a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, “DJ Wonnum and Pat Jones II rank 109 and 110 in PFF‘s pass rush grade among edge rushers with at least 25 snaps.”

Wonnum has fired up a 48.7 Pro Football Focus grade, with Jones at 46.9.

Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Patrick Jones II (91) enters the field before the first half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s no wonder Minnesota couldn’t rattle Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert in Week 3. The pressure upfront outside of Hunter was close to nil. The Athletic’s Alec Lewis tweeted after the Vikings loss to Los Angeles, “So, here’s a stat: Justin Herbert completed 85.4% of his passes today against the Vikings. He went 40-of-47. I went back to 2000 in TruMedia, and no NFL quarterback since then has had a higher completion percentage in a game when throwing at least 45 passes in that game.”

Hunter is doing his part — he’s second in the NFL in sacks behind T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers — but Minnesota is left to simulate pressure from non-outside linebackers after Hunter’s name on the depth chart.

Vikings to Showcase
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Flores was hired in February 2023 to take over for Ed Donatel after Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed.

Unsurprisingly, the team is losing games, to the tune of a 0-3 start, which the Vikings have never recovered from to later reach the playoffs.

In theory, the fix could be simple. When Davenport is ready to go, perhaps he alone can torment quarterbacks at the current spot filled by Wonnum or Jones. Playing alongside Hunter has historically freed up the “non-Hunter guy” to feast. Ask Ifeadi Odenigbo about it from the 2019 season.

Contribution from Free
Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Marcus Davenport addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Davenport joined the Vikings in March of 2023 after four seasons with the New Orleans Saints.

Davenport is compensated at a price that suggests he should or will be the missing link, but the ex-New Orleans Saint logged just 0.5 sacks in 2022. If he doesn’t change that performance, Minnesota will continue an already bleak season.

The Vikings defense ranks 25th per EPA/Play as of September 24th, and fans will merely cross their fingers that Davenport’s [eventual] return will completely remedy the defensive trenches.

Minnesota has not drafted an EDGE rusher with 1st- or 2nd-Round draft capital since 2005.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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