Camryn Bynum Has His Mojo Back
The Minnesota Vikings have endured a difficult start to the season. Nobody wants to start 0-2 and leave themselves a big job to turn things around.
Camryn Bynum Has His Mojo Back
That’s not to say there haven’t been positives, though. One example is Camryn Bynum. His mojo is back. In a rejuvenated defense that needed to show improvement, no one has done more so than the Vikings third-year safety through two weeks.
A Promising Start That Went Cold
Do you remember back in 2021 when Bynum had a mini-breakthrough? In the middle of his rookie season, Bynum got the chance to step in for the absent Harrison Smith. His performances led to calls for him to keep his place ahead of Xavier Woods upon Smith’s return. That didn’t happen, and Bynum’s chances were more limited for the remainder of the season. In 2022, with Woods now departed, Bynum won the starter job over 2022 first-round pick Lewis Cine.
Ed Donatell’s defense became despised by Vikings fans, who have been brought up on a history of great defense. From the purple people eaters, John Randle, and Jared Allen, to name a few, Vikings fans want to see an aggressive defense making the opposition’s life a misery. Donatell’s bend but-don’t-break, passive shell defense was the polar opposite of this. Bynum’s role in this defense was to be the deepest of an often too-deep defense.
The promising glimpses from his rookie season seemed to have been a false dawn. However, Donatell’s scheme wasn’t doing him any favors. The fact that he kept his place and Donatell seemed happy with what he was doing led folks to wonder if the problem was Bynum or the scheme. Donatell was fired, and in came Brian Flores. With Flores in charge of the defense, we would see if Bynum can get back to the player who showed potential in his rookie season.
Early signs are Bynum is seeing the sort of revitalization the Vikings were hoping for across the whole defense. The more aggressive style of Flores’ defense means we see Bynum around the line of scrimmage, making tackles early. After two games, Bynum leads the team in tackles (25), including one tackle for loss. In coverage, Bynum is allowing a lowly 56.2 passer rating against, and Pro Football Focus gives him an overall grade of 87.8 — second only to Justin Jefferson (89.5) on the Vikings team.
Bynum has undoubtedly been one of Minnesota’s best players over the first two games of the season, something very few people would have predicted heading into Week 1. Of course, that’s a relatively small sample size, and the challenge now is to keep that level of performance up. Consistency is now the key; back-to-back excellent performances are a great start.
The Vikings have more depth at the safety position than any other, but with Harrison Smith in the twilight of his career and first-round pick Lewis Cine still yet to make his mark, the door is wide open for Bynum. Minnesota has six safeties on their roster, which is unusually high. It shows the importance of the position in how Flores wants his defense to play.
Drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 draft, the Vikings immediately converted the college cornerback to safety — a move that looked the right one after a promising rookie season. After lots of criticism last season, it once again looks like a smart decision.
If Bynum continues to flourish under the guidance of Flores, he could become a permanent fixture at safety for the Vikings for several years. Bynum has started staking his case for being “the guy” for the Vikings at safety. His rookie contract runs to the end of the 2024 season, so the Vikings have enough time to decide whether Bynum is a long-term.
The question Bynum now has to answer is, can he turn two excellent games into five, then 10, and so on? His next chance comes in the battle of 0-2 teams between the Vikings and Chargers on Sunday.