Perhaps no defense in the National Football League has as many top-level defensive players as the Minnesota Vikings do. They have elite players on every level of the defense, and thanks to the familiarity they have with Mike Zimmer’s scheme, they know exactly what they need to do and how to do it in order to make plays and shut down opposing offenses.
When Adam Schein of NFL.com put together his list of the NFL’s most indispensable defensive players, you knew that a member of the Vikings was going to make the list. It was just a member of which one it would be. Schein chose defensive end Everson Griffen, and put him at #5 on the list using this as his justification:
The Vikings possess a fantastic defense, with three dynamite players in Griffen, CB Xavier Rhodes and S Harrison Smith. But I felt compelled to get Griffen on this list for the first time. This 30-year-old makes Minnesota’s elite defense go. He’s an unblockable and unstoppable defensive lineman who doesn’t get enough credit. And he’s the leader of the pack. Griffen, on my SiriusXM Radio show last week, refused to call the Vikings’ defense the best in the game -- and stressed how much better the unit has to be with every detail. Somewhere, Mike Zimmer smiles.
Griffen sacked the quarterback 13 times last year -- he actually had 10 sacks in the first eight games, but then a torn plantar fascia really slowed him down -- and truly became entrenched as an indispensable star.
With all due respect to Mr. Schein, I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with him and say something that I’ve said in this space before.
If the Minnesota Vikings have one “indispensable” defensive player, out of all the outstanding stars they have, I would have to go with Harrison Smith. While Griffen’s ability to get to the quarterback is unquestionably a big part of what the Vikings do, I firmly believe that it’s Smith’s versatility that makes Zimmer’s defense go more than anything else. The Vikings ask Smith to do a lot of different things in their defense, and the knowledge that he’s going to do the job correctly frees Zimmer and George Edwards up to get a little more exotic with the other 10 players on defense.
I’m not saying that Griffen is a wrong answer or anything. I’m just saying that I don’t think he’s the most correct answer.
So, let me ask all of you out there. . .who do you think is the Vikings’ most “indispensable” defensive player?
Who is the Minnesota Vikings’ most "indispensable" defensive player?
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