I think that most of us have played the game Jenga before. For those who have not, the basic concept is that a tower of blocks is constructed (as in the picture you see above), and players take turns removing pieces until the tower falls. The person that removed the piece that, ultimately, caused the tower to topple is the loser, with the last person that successfully removed a piece of the tower being a victory.
In keeping with this idea, and an idea that several of our fellow SB Nation football writers have explored over the past few days, we want to take a look at which members of the Minnesota Vikings could be considered the team’s ultimate “Jenga piece,” or the player that would cause everything to fall apart if the Vikings were to lose them.
On offense, many teams would probably consider the quarterback that player. That might be true in the case of the Vikings as well, given the current quarterback depth chart and the state of Teddy Bridgewater’s knee injury. Most people realize that Sam Bradford is significantly better than the rest of the depth chart at the position in Minnesota right now (though there will still be some HURR DURR CASE KEENUM IS BETTER THAN SAM BRADFORD when, really, no he’s not). With Bridgewater’s status still unknown, the drop off in quarterback play from Bradford to Keenum (or to Taylor Heinicke or Wes Lunt) would be a significant one, and one that I’m not sure that the Vikings’ offense would be able to overcome.
A lot of the main pieces of this team, however, are on defense. One guy that the Vikings’ defense definitely couldn’t do without for a significant period of time is safety Harrison Smith. Smith is one of the best safeties in the league because of his versatility, and that versatility allows Mike Zimmer and George Edwards to have a great deal of flexibility in what they do on defense. The Vikings have question marks at one safety spot (depending on one’s level of faith in Andrew Sendejo) and with their backups at the position, and the loss of Harrison Smith would be an awful situation for Minnesota’s defense to have to deal with.
Given his ascent over the past couple of seasons, cornerback Xavier Rhodes is someone that could also fall under this category. Rhodes has quietly. . .at least, outside of Minnesota. . .established himself as possibly the best corner in the NFL, and has shown the ability to neutralize big-time receiving threats on the outside. The Vikings do have plenty of talent at the cornerback position, but losing someone of Rhodes’ caliber would be incredibly difficult for this team to overcome.
While the Vikings have a lot of talented players in their defensive front four, I think the hardest one to overcome the loss of would definitely be defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Joseph’s combination of size and agility can’t be matched by any other defensive tackle on the roster right now, and while he still isn’t much of a pass rusher, his loss would significantly hamper the Vikings’ ability to stop the run and make things significantly more difficult for the Vikings’ defense.
One player that would be a disastrous loss that might not immediately come to mind is linebacker Eric Kendricks. Kendricks took a huge step forward in his second season, and has become equally outstanding in coverage and in stopping the run. He stays on the field for all three downs and can make plays all over the field. If Kendricks were to be lost, the team might have to use two players to replace him. . .one as the middle linebacker in the base defense and one in nickel situations. Again, he might not immediately come to mind for something like this, but he would be a huge loss for the Vikings.
Those are the guys that immediately come to mind for me. Who do you think is the most important piece of the Vikings’ “Jenga tower?”
Who is the Vikings’ biggest "Jenga piece?"
This poll is closed
QB Sam Bradford
DT Linval Joseph
LB Eric Kendricks
CB Xavier Rhodes
S Harrison Smith
Other (please specify)