Man... a guy who can do this in the secondary. How bout that. - Adam Bettcher
The Vikings have found themselves with one of those 'good problems' that quite frankly I didn't think they'd have for a long, long while.
Yeah, THAT'S something I expected to write within ten years after last season. You know, just too many starting DBs on the team. Gosh, what will we do with the secondary? How will we make room? What are we going to do, just be fine if someone goes down? Blasphemy!
Before I continue, I'd like to give credit where credit is due. One Mr. MarkSP18 here has often said that he felt that Jamarca Sanford got a bit of a raw deal; we're willing to wait for some players to ‘develop' but we lost patience with Sanford too soon. He's in his fourth year on the team, and his first two were spent on special teams. And considering he wasn't the starter coming out of the gate last year- because we felt for some strange reason Tyrell Johnson was apparently still a good idea- one very well could make the argument he never had a full shot. And Mark did make that argument, and it appears that he has been vindicated/ justified.
In training camp there was by all accounts a fair competition for the two starting safety positions, and by all accounts, Mistral Raymond and Harrison Smith won them fair and square over Sanford. And Smith has certainly shown- penalties and fines aside- that he deserves what he has earned; likewise was Raymond showing considerable skill at the position prior to his injury.
And yet, with Raymond stuck on the injury list, Sanford has re-emerged and made a solid bid to take that starting spot right back. While he still seems to occasionally struggle to make easy interceptions, as the saying goes he wasn't drafted to be a wide receiver. That aside he has been making good tackles, not blowing coverage, staying on assignment... you know, all that stuff you want a starting safety to do. And he's not short on pure physical talent, as he has shown good speed, agility, and a hard-nosed nature with his hits.
So what are the Vikings to do? Raymond should be returning sometime around the November 4th game, and is already back in practice. Barring any sort of setback, the Vikings are going to have a predicament: return Raymond to his starting spot and Sanford to the bench, or keep Sanford on the field and send Raymond to the sidelines.
I'm not necessarily advocating either decision- to me, I think they've played equally well. This is one of those decisions I'll easily trust the coaching staff on considering, as always, they see and know things we don't. But it will be an interesting one to follow for sure. Whatever the case, the Vikings are in a situation they haven't been in for what feels like, well, probably ever since I've been following the team. Not only do they have two starting caliber safeties, they actually have a third on the bench just in case.
And that fills me with warm fuzzy feelings.
As an aside, Sanford is one of the players who would become an unrestricted free agent after this season. I'm thinking his price tag likely wouldn't be too high; hopefully, the Vikings keep him around for a while and maintain this nice little safety-tandem-plus-some. Because as quickly as the Vikings have turned an absolute embarrassment of a secondary around, it just as quickly could go right back to the burning blaze of a dumpster fire.
So you, the readers, sound off. I attached my first poll of the post-SBNation United era below asking what you guys think the starting safety tandem should be once Raymond returns.
Okeedokee- I know I said this last time, but this is probably the last you'll hear of me until hopefully a compliment sandwich piece after a win against Arizona, and be sure to follow me on Twitter and suggest what the title of the piece will be (or else I will title it ‘My Twitter Followers Suck'); likewise, I should have a decision sometime next week regarding a Floridian Viking Fan Meet Up, or I might just get lazy and attach another poll so you guys can do it for me, either way I'll have something- ta ta for now!
Upon Mistral Raymond's return, who should our starting safety tandem be?
Harrison Smith and Mistral Raymond (230 votes)
Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford (215 votes)
Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond (18 votes)
463 total votes