While I think we'll be seeing a lot more talk about "Favre vs Chilly, Schismgate 2.0: A Tale of Two Halves" in the coming week and the special teams made their share of mistakes, I thought I'd create a fanpost dedicated to our defense to keep the conversation a little more focused.
With all the talk of Leslie Frazier becoming a head coach the past few years I have to imagine his stock has fallen quite a bit this season. Admittedly, he has a lot of holes to fill but this time of year that's par for the course in the NFL. The best sign of a good coach his when the holes don't show up on gameday and right now we're seeing a lot of them.
- Madieu Williams is a liability. It's hard to imagine we can't find someone else that may cover as poorly as he does but could at least tackle better.
- Antoine Winfield is still hurt and can't keep up with receivers. We might be better off moving him into a nickel or dime spot for the time being to reduce his coverage time and area or give him another week off and hope he gets back above 80% for the playoffs.
- Linebacker play was pretty random even when we had EJ. Greenway was looking like a monster to start the season but they have all been falling off as the season progressed, and now we have a backup in the middle. Leber looks like he's always close to the play but has a hard time finishing it. I think our linebackers need an identity (more on that later).
- Speaking of having trouble finishing plays and making tackles. Our defense should be sent back to Tackling 101. Lesson one, using the appendages dangling from your shoulders to aide in bringing down a ball carrying opponent; or, wrap up young man, wrap up!
- Jared Allen is MIA. Looks like we tried something different this week dropping Allen into coverage more and stunting linebackers to his side to confuse the double teams. I'm glad to see they made the effort to change things up but I don't know how effective it was. The Tampa 2 requires pressure from the 4 down lineman without a lot of exotic blitzing. We have to get that pressure back because our secondary is going to need help against the passing attack of any playoff team.
- Pat Williams being injured. He seemed to show up in a big way on a couple plays during our blowout losses to AZ and the Panthers, but strangely I don't think his void is as hard to fill as the others I've listed.
Speaking of changing things up, I've got this in my back pocket. Frazier was being interviewed by Paul Allen weeks ago and they were talking about his playing days with the '85 Bears. As a parting shot/joke Allen asked if they were ever going to see the Vikings run the Bears 46 defense as they were going to commercial. Frazier said "I have them practice it all the time so it's there if we decide to go with it. Coach won't let me run it in a game, but we keep practicing it."
Now the old Bears 46 probably isn't the best thing to run in this day and age, and lord knows we don't have a safety that could hold up to it's requirements, but if we blended it with the Tampa 2 (basically left the safety back making it a 45 defense) it would give the line more help and require more from our linebackers. And I think that last part is a good thing. If Brinkley excels at stopping the run let's bring him down closer to the line and take pass coverage off his plate. Meanwhile Leber and Greenway can split the field and fly to the ball. I think a little less thinking and more action would serve them well.
This is my take on the 46 and how it may help the Vikings and is probably not anything like what Frazier is having them practice, but I can dream. Have I lost it completely? It's 2AM on a school night and I should be in bed.