After last season, in which Everson Griffen had to take part of the season off to deal with some mental health issues (something that should be applauded, even with how the events leading up to it happened, because it’s not easy asking for help in bettering your mental health), I think it was fair to say that Vikings fans were becoming more and more certain that the baton of best pass-rusher on the team had fully passed from Griffen to fifth-year rusher Danielle Hunter.
The work Griffen has done in the offseason and through the first two weeks of the season are making that a much tougher discussion to have.
Through two games @EversonGriffen and @DHunt94_TX are tied for the NFL lead with 15 QB pressures, according to @PFF.— Vikings PR (@VikingsPR) September 18, 2019
Since 2015 Griffen and Hunter have combined to record 80.0 sacks for the #Vikings, more than any pair of teammates in the NFL during that span.#NorseNotes pic.twitter.com/x4mV8PVxmH
Impressively, 11 of Griffen’s 15 pressures this season came on Sunday against Green Bay and familiar foe David Bakhtiari.
Everson Griffen forced 11 pressures yesterday, including six pressures against David Bakhtiari — the most pressures Bakhtiari has surrendered in a game since 2016.— Nick Olson (@NickOlsonNFL) September 16, 2019
It’s regularly been a marquis matchup to watch two of the best at their craft go at it when the Vikings take on the Packers, and in this case, Griffen did get the better of Bakhtiari.
And the two haven’t just been getting pressures either (especially with how vague an idea pressures can be from site to site and grader to grader). They have been getting to the quarterback.
Leaders in QB hits through 2 games:— Johnny Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) September 17, 2019
Myles Garrett: 7
Derek Barnett: 6
Shaquil Barrett, Matt Judon, Cameron Wake, Everson Griffen: 5
Danielle Hunter, Sam Hubbard, Cameron Jordan, Za'Darius Smith, Marcus Davenport, Chris Jones, Preston Smith, TJ Watt, Brian Burns, Ryan Kerrigan: 4
While the two have just three combined sacks so far, a total of 30 pressures, nine QB hits, and three sacks is great production from your two starting defensive ends.
They will need every bit of skill they have for this weekend, as Oakland is, somehow, actually managing to build a bit of offensive line talent under Tom Cable.
Total QB Hits Allowed Through Week 2— Johnny Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) September 17, 2019
BAL, DAL: 4
OAK, PIT: 5
KC, NE: 8
IND, MIN: 9
DEN, DET, JAX, WAS: 10
CAR, CIN, NYG, TEN: 11
ATL, CHI, CLE, LAC, LAR: 13
BUF, SEA: 15
ARI, NYJ, TB: 16
QB hits allowed can be a subjective thing, especially with how different offensive schemes can keep some quarterbacks from getting hit better than others. But no matter how it’s happening, the Raiders have been pretty good at protecting Derek Carr, and the Vikings will have to hope that changes if they want to ensure they move to 2-1.