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Vikings One Of The League's Better Tackling Teams In 2014

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One of the things that had plagued the Minnesota Vikings' defense in the seasons leading up to 2014 was a high number of missed tackles. Whether it was the linebackers or the defensive backs (as the defensive line generally didn't have that problem, as far as I could tell), it seemed like the Vikings had difficulty bringing ball carriers to the ground. However, under Mike Zimmer, it appears that this has changed somewhat.

According to the folks at Pro Football Focus, the Vikings finished in the top ten in the NFL this past season in tackling efficiency, which is a ratio of the average number of players that miss tackles per play. Minnesota ranked seventh in the NFL, and fourth in the NFC, in that category. PFF shows the Vikings as having 108 missed tackles in 1,109 defensive snaps in 2014.

They managed to rank so highly despite one of the worst individual efforts as far as missed tackles in the National Football League. PFF had rookie outside linebacker Anthony Barr as their 28th. . .and last. . .ranked OLB in the NFL in tackling efficiency, charting him as missing one tackle for every 4.5 tackle attempts, including 16 in pass coverage and 22 overall. Now, obviously Barr had a pretty outstanding rookie season before missing the last four games with a knee injury, and it's hard to tell how much that injury affected him in the games he did play with it. However, that number does show that there's still plenty of room for improvement in Barr's game.

The tackling in the Minnesota secondary, which has been a sore spot for years, vastly improved this season. At the safety spot, Robert Blanton was ranked third in the NFL by PFF, with just one missed tackle for every 27 tackle attempts (and 4 missed tackles on the year). And at the cornerback spot, the Vikings landed two players in the top ten, with Xavier Rhodes coming in at #4 and Captain Munnerlyn checking in at #10. According to PFF, those two guys combined to have just eight missed tackles on the season (three for Rhodes, five for Munnerlyn).

Mike Zimmer was brought in to fix the Minnesota defense, and if their ability to tackle is any indication, he's well on his way to doing just that. Hopefully this is a trend that can continue going forward.