The Minnesota Vikings defensive line failed to register a sack against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season, marking the first time in 25 games that's happened. The team still sacked Blaine Gabbert twice, but the sacks went to linebacker Erin Henderson and cornerback Chris Cook. In order to get a victory in their first road game of the year this coming Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, the front four of the Vikings is going to have to get the job done, and they're going to have an opportunity to make some hay.
When people think of the Vikings' pass rush, they generally think of Jared Allen, and with good reason. Allen, who had 22 sacks in 2011, was held without a sack against the Jaguars, as Jacksonville's Eugene Monroe did a very good job against him. (Yes, I think Allen got hosed out of a sack on the game's second play when he timed the snap perfectly but was flagged for being offside.) On Sunday, Allen will line up across from Anthony Castonzo, who he should have an advantage against. . .though, honestly, the list of NFL tackles that Allen doesn't have a decided advantage against is a pretty short one. The Colts might want to give Castonzo some help, but they might not be able to do so. Why?
Because the guy that bookends Allen on the Vikings' defensive line, Brian Robison, was an absolute terror against the Jaguars, and was probably the best player on the Vikings' defense in the opener. He finished the afternoon with six quarterback pressures, three quarterback hits, three tackles, and a pass defended. Working in Robison's favor. . .and against the Colts. . .is that Indy's starting right tackle, Winston Justice, left last week's game against the Chicago Bears with a concussion. He might not be 100% on Sunday (though indications to this point are that he'll play).
If Allen and Robison can do what they're capable of doing, then the interior of the Vikings' defensive line is going to have to take advantage. Kevin Williams, Letroy Guion, Fred Evans, and Christian Ballard were pretty non-descript on Sunday afternoon, but if Robison and Allen can make young Andrew Luck step up in the pocket, those guys on the interior (to include Everson Griffen, who saw some action on the interior in passing situations) are going to have to at least hit Luck, if not take him down for sacks.
The Minnesota Vikings' defense is predicated on the ability of the front four to get pressure and allow the Vikings to drop as many people into coverage as possible. In the case of the Vikings, that pressure starts at the ends with Jared Allen and Brian Robison. Those two should have decided advantages over the players they'll be lining up across from at Lucas Oil Stadium this Sunday afternoon. If they can play like it, it would go a long way towards getting off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2009 for the Minnesota Vikings.