At the halfway point of this 2017 NFL season, we’ve already asked for your take on who the Offensive Most Valuable Player for the Minnesota Vikings is, and now we want to do the same on the defensive side of the ball. Thus far, the Vikings have shown that they have one of the best defenses in the National Football League, and there are a number of players that have had outstanding performances. But, since I don’t want to list every player on the defense, I’m going to do my best to narrow it down a bit. With that, here we go. Like I did with the offensive side, I’ll just go in alphabetical order.
Anthony Barr, LB - Before the season, we were wondering aloud whether Barr’s down 2016 was an anomaly or a sign of things to come. After the first eight weeks of this season, we’ve gotten a pretty emphatic answer to that question. Barr looks every big as good as he did in his breakout season of 2015, as he’s chasing plays from sideline to sideline and blowing up every screen pass that opponents attempt to throw the Vikings’ direction. The team has already picked up Barr’s fifth-year option for next season, but he’s making it clear that he wants to be here for the long haul.
Everson Griffen, DE - What can you say about “Sack Daddy” that hasn’t already been said? He’s opened the season with a quarterback sack in each of Minnesota’s first eight games, and has a total of ten on the season, putting him on pace for the third 20-sack season in team history. (Jared Allen and Chris Doleman also each reached that plateau as a member of the Vikings.) He also leads the entire NFL in quarterback pressures with 45 through the first eight weeks, meaning he’s been making life miserable for opposing quarterbacks on a fairly regular basis.
Linval Joseph, DT - Linval is hungry, and he’s feasting on opposing running backs on a regular basis this season. Through eight games, the Vikings’ defense has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher, and opponents are averaging just 3.5 yards/carry against the purple so far this season. This is largely due to the play of Joseph, who is almost unblockable on the defensive interior. He also does a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet, such as absorbing a lot of double teams, that allow the Minnesota defense to function the way that it does.
Xavier Rhodes, CB - We know all of the lines about “Rhodes Closed” and so forth, but Rhodes is actually a lot more like the Bermuda Triangle. . .opposing #1 receivers line up against him and nobody sees them for about three hours. Rhodes has shut down receivers like Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown, and Mike Evans thus far for the Vikings, and even had one game (the Monday night contest against the Chicago Bears) where the opponent didn’t throw in his direction one single time. That’s respect, ladies and gentlemen. I’m not sure if there’s a better corner in the league right now than #29.
Harrison Smith, S - Speaking of best in the league at their position, here’s Harrison Smith. Smith has been all over the field this season, collecting quarterback sacks and interceptions, including setting up the game-winning drive in Chicago with a nice baiting of Mitch Trubisky. Smith’s versatility is another huge part of what allows the Vikings to do what they want on defense. He can move down into the box, play deep coverage, play man coverage on tight ends, or anything else that George Edwards wants him to do.
Honorable Mentions - How good is the Vikings’ defense? Players like Danielle Hunter and Eric Kendricks, who are among the best in the NFL at their positions, don’t even crack the top five. Honestly, who do you take off of the list above to make room for either Hunter or Kendricks? They’ve both been very good, but they haven’t been better than the players listed above, so they get put in the Honorable Mention category.
So, let’s get to the poll, ladies and gentlemen. Who is your Midseason Most Valuable Player for the Minnesota Vikings’ defense?
Who do you think is the Minnesota Vikings’ Midseason Defensive MVP?
This poll is closed
LB Anthony Barr
DE Everson Griffen
DT Linval Joseph
CB Xavier Rhodes
S Harrison Smith
Other (please specify)