Going into the 2011 season, it was largely wondered whether or not Brian Robison would be able to step in and replace the departed Ray Edwards at defensive end opposite Jared Allen. Edwards made it no secret that he wanted out of Minnesota, feeling as though he had been disrespected due to the fact that the Vikings signed Robison to a three-year contract extension right before the lockout hit, and at that point he was making less money than Robison. . .or, as he quite unceremoniously referred to him, "his backup."
So, Edwards hit the road as soon as he could, signing with the Atlanta Falcons after the lockout was lifted, and the Vikings rolled into the season with Robison as the starter at defensive end. Apparently, it was the right thing to do.
Last year, Robison ended up playing 936 snaps on defense as he started opposite Allen, more than all but eight other 4-3 defensive ends (Jared Allen, who had to be practically hog-tied and dragged off, led the league with 1044). He wasn’t just taking up space on those snaps either, bringing pressure consistently over the season and holding up against the run, something that had been a concern among his detractors before the season. In 385 snaps run defending, Robison missed just a pair of tackles, posted very similar numbers to Allen, and earned a positive PFF grade over the season, despite the Vikings’ defense feeling the loss of Pat Williams in the interior.
As a pass rusher, he recorded nine sacks, but 54 total pressures, good for 11th among 4-3 defensive ends, and his 8.4 Pass Rushing Productivity score was good enough to rank 21st, one spot better than Jason Pierre-Paul, and comfortably ahead of the player he replaced.
Congratulations to Brian Robison for proving the doubters wrong. The front office took some flak for letting Edwards go and making him the starter. . .but, as is usually the case, if you're taking flak it just means you're right over the target.