I've been reading a bunch of Pro Football Focus lately for better or for worse. I like the website because it makes you think outside of the box. Extended visits at this website will have you obsessing over details that don't always matter, however. So take what is listed below with a grain of salt.
In an effort to dream up ways where the Vikings can maximize their talent, here are five personnel packages that the Vikings will probably never use. I think they should at least consider it.
Safety at Dimeback
I just don't have that much confidence in our CBs right now. Cook is solid when healthy, but rarely healthy. Robinson is progressing nicely, but being shoved into an important position this year. The same can be said of Rhodes, who is a promising rookie. As you go further down the depth chart it gets even scarier with Jefferson and Sherels. All this means is that we are an injury away from a subpar defensive backfield. Depth at safety however, with Raymond, Sendejo, and Blanton, is better.
So why not throw a 3rd safety on the field for our dime package? It would increase talent on the field, and provide added depth against a pass-happy division. Scheme-wise those players would have to adjust. In zone coverages, the dimeback would play farther off the ball, or we could switch to a cover 3 scheme. For man coverages, the dimeback would match up with the slot receiver or TE, limiting possible mismatches against our LBs and CBs.
The Three TE Set
Pro Football Focus is in love with Rhett Ellison. During free agency they even suggested that the Vikings let Felton walk, since Ellison showed to be more productive via their metrics. I certainly don't agree with that. It would be nice to find more ways to get Ellison on the field, however. This is best accomplished with a three TE set, which I think could be more that just a goalline package for the Vikings.
For the goalline, it's no question that Kyle Rudolph is the go-to guy. A 3-TE set would involve him lining up tight to the line, or even spread out, and paired with Simpson, Patterson, or Jennings across the field. Ellison and Carlson would be the two blocking TEs, with both serving a threat as receivers as well.
Ellison could also line up as FB, or Wright could line up as FB and motion into the slot. There are several options here. This package has tons of talent on the field and many ideals for short yardage situations, with just enough speed for play-action.
Again PFF shares an opinion on a Vikings player, Chad Greenway. I will not pin it on any one player, but the Vikings have been terrible against TEs the last few years. At this point its hard to deny that LB coverage skills are lacking on this team. Brinkley and EJ Henderson were previous scapegoats. Is Greenway the real problem? If so, the fix is not that complicated. Erin Henderson and Desmond Bishop as the Nickel LBs.
This solution seems a lot less possible as Bishop struggles his way through camp, but both Henderson and Bishop reportedly have strong coverage skills. Obviously, tons of leadership and experience is lost by benching Greenway.
Between Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings have done a great job of replacing what was lost with Percy Harvin. A quick and precise route runner, a ball in hands playmaker, a return specialist, a deep threat. We should have all those things in 2013. We will not have the change-of-pace scatback that Percy morphed into when lined up in the backfield.
Matt Asiata does nothing for me, but both Banyard and Randle definitely pique my interest. Surely one of these two guys is worth keeping simply because they have a different skill set than Peterson and Gerhart. Such a back would give the defense another wrinkle to consider, and also rest the MVP.
A New Nose Tackle
If there is one PFF article worth reading, it's this one which discusses our defensive line. The Vikings simply have a bunch of misfitting parts at Nose Tackle. Williams, Floyd, Guion, Ballard, and Evans all just aren't suited to replace the void that phat Pat left. Of those five however, there is one who would probably do the best job: Kevin Williams.
Moving KW to NT hides his lost step, reduces his snaps, and hopefully increases his effectiveness. The move allows Floyd to start, with Guion and Ballard spelling him as he develops. Williams could also come out on passing downs, giving a front line of Allen, Floyd, Griffen, and Robison. Williams could also move back to 3T on 3rd downs if necessary. When all is said and done, the Vikings have plenty of rotation options at DT.
So, do you think any of these ideas are legit?