I've been searching all season long for a reason to believe the horrid nature of the Minnesota Vikings pass defense doesn't entirely fall on the shoulders of the defensive backs. Maybe it's the lack of front-four pressure? Well no, that can't be it. Jared Allen leads the NFL in sacks, and we're 3rd as a team in that category. Maybe it's an inability to stop the run, leading to a wide open passing game for opponents? Nope: 6th in the NFL in yards-per-carry and 9th in yards-per-game allowed.
And then I had a light bulb moment today. With the Hall of Fame (Antoine Winfield), 2nd Round (Cedric Griffin, Chris Cook) and 3rd Round (Asher Allen) talent in that secondary, there should be absolutely no excuse for the astronomical number of blown coverages, missed tackles, and games without interceptions (in case you were wondering, you have to venture all the way back to Week 5 vs. the Cardinals for our last one--our last three actually). Something's gotta give. These are talented men who, aside from Chris Cook, have been playing together for multiple years now and have never put forth as terrible of an effort as they have in 2011.
So I took to the the Internet for a little statistical research. The Pittsburgh Steelers have this season's top pass defense at 179 yards-per-game allowed. I'll let you take in the gloriousness of that accomplishment for a moment... 179 yards-per-game... Can you imagine a pass defense of that caliber complimenting our existing rush defense, which only allows a shade over 100 yards-per-game? I don't want to say Superbowl, but...Superbowl.
But the true jaw-dropping nature of the Steelers' dominant pass defense was not in that number "179" for me. You have to look at the personnel. And just so I can quell all the "What the hell is he getting at?" thoughts that are undoubtedly running through your minds, my ultimate point with this post is this: WE NEED A NEW DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR.
Why? Back to my earlier sentence: you have to look at the personnel of the Steelers secondary to get an idea of how they have done so much with so relatively little in recent years. Here are their two starting cornerbacks and two starting safeties in 2011, and the round in which they were drafted:
William Gay - 5th Round, Louisville
Troy Polamalu - 1st Round, USC
Ryan Clark - Undrafted, LSU
Ike Taylor - 4th Round, Louisiana-Lafayette
Aside from Polamalu, not a single player drafted higher than the fourth round. And here's the difference, folks: the Pittsburgh Steelers have the NFL's best defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau. The best. And he has been for awhile now. To further that point, defensive backs coach Carnell Lake is in his first season with the team! It's Dick LeBeau's secondary, and they are thriving. So how do we find our LeBeau? Well, here are apparently the criteria:
1. Must be a former NFL defensive player
2. Must have coached a defensive unit in some capacity for at least 27 years
That's it. That's what the Minnesota Vikings need, a defensive lifer; a guy who has been in and around NFL defenses for decades; a guy who can seek out talent in mid-round drafts so the organization can focus their efforts into bolstering the other units that have been detrimental to the legacy of the "Purple People Eaters" (offensive line, wide receiver...another post for another day).
Who is Fred Pagac? A former NFL tight end who spent 22 of his 32 years of coaching with the Ohio State Buckeyes. I'm very anxious to see if all you fellow DNers could do some research along with me and comment on this post with some suitable candidates you believe could replace Fred Pagac. He is not the man for the job, and it's painfully clear.
Help the Minnesota Vikings find their dick...LeBeau.