Since coming over to the Minnesota Vikings prior to the 2014 season, defensive tackle Linval Joseph has established himself as a force against the run, and earned his first ever Pro Bowl berth this past season as he’s continued to improve.
Head Coach Mike Zimmer says that Joseph can be even better, and according to Alex Marvez of The Sporting News, that’s what Joseph is going to be focusing on this offseason.
"The one thing that’s holding him back from being a truly dominating player — he loves to play the run and the pass-rush is just kind of an afterthought," Zimmer said. “If he ever gets that in his mind, I think he could be as good as there is."
Joseph did have a career high four sacks this past season, but has just 16.5 in his seven-year career. I don’t have his snap totals or anything like that to see how often he came off the field in “obvious” passing situations, but I know that the Vikings like to get Tom Johnson into the game on passing downs and that Brian Robison occasionally kicks inside in pass rushing situations as well.
If Joseph could develop his game to the point where he didn’t need to come off the field on third downs, he could truly establish himself as one of the best defensive tackles in the league. We already know how good he is, and his Pro Bowl appearance this past season shows that everyone else might be starting to catch on, too.
Linval Joseph has been plenty hungry against NFL running backs thus far in his career. If he can figure out how to feast on quarterbacks as well, teams that play the Vikings are going to have a serious problem on their hands.