The Minnesota Vikings defense got completely dissected by Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams last Thursday in a 38-31 loss. This means that when the Vikings play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, it will be 28 days since the last time the Vikings won a game. While I had my doubts about this team reaching last year’s heights, I didn’t expect to see a losing drought of 28 days. That has a chance to be extended on Sunday when the Vikings travel to Philadelphia, where dreams go to die.
I was able to lower my expectations a bit this season when I looked back at how many times the Vikings have crumbled under high expectations. The one thing I certainly did not expect was a complete collapse from the best defense in football a season ago.
It was unrealistic to think this team would lead the NFL in points allowed, yards allowed and third-down defense for a consecutive year, especially because the Vikings defense was extraordinarily healthy last year. One of the reasons the recent play from the defense has been troubling is that they have been mostly healthy so far. The one caveat is Everson Griffen whose loss has seemed to have a huge impact on the pass rush and in the overall energy the defense plays with.
The other main problem with this defense is that this is not a new trend that started this season. The Vikings defense has struggled since halftime of the Divisional game against the Saints last year. Here are the splits of defensive numbers since the start of last season before and after halftime of that game.
Before halftime against the Saints:
Yards per game: 276.3 Points per game: 15.3
After halftime against the Saints:
Yards per game: 399.3 Points per game: 31.3
The amount of points they’ve given up has more than doubled and they’re giving up more than 100 yards more per game. Of course, the 5.5 games that are used for the second example came against Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Nick Foles (not impressive at the surface but you have to remember that he stole the talent of Rodgers and gave it back after the Super Bowl) and what will likely be a record-setting offense.
This is something I’ve been telling myself to calm down and even try to convince myself that water will eventually find its level and the defense will be back to elite status soon. Then I saw how abysmal Josh Allen looked against the Packers this week and I started to panic again. Allen had a quarterback rating of 36.3 against the Packers, throwing two picks including this bafflingly dumb decision.
After a nice little 5 yard out to Holmes it is 3rd and 5.
GB brings 1 more than the Bills can block.
This Josh Allen needs to go back to Wyoming
Meanwhile, he had a quarterback rating of 111.2 against the Vikings, threw for 196 yards and a touchdown, plus he ran for two more touchdowns. Allen is not a good quarterback. He was bad in college and he’ll continue to be bad in the pros. He made his first road start in Minnesota which is typically a death march for rookie quarterbacks. The Vikings let him make open throws and gave him clear running lanes all game.
All of this adds up for me to say that I don’t think there’s an easy fix to this. I have plenty of questions about this defense, such as: Why hasn’t George Iloka played? Can the linebackers cover anyone? Will Mackensie Alexander ever figure it out? Can the defensive line create pressure without Griffen? Is Griffen going to get better? Is Griffen ever going to play again? If he doesn’t, who steps up as a leader?
I don’t have any of these answers, I’m just hoping that Mike Zimmer does.
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