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Five Good Questions with Football Outsiders: Most impactful newcomer for the Vikings

A name that comes a bit out of left field

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NFL: AUG 12 Chicago Bears Training Camp Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the second installment of our five-post series of questions with the folks from Football Outsiders about the 2022 Minnesota Vikings in celebration of the release of this year’s version of the Football Outsiders Almanac (available in both digital and print versions).

Our questions for this year went to Derrik Klassen, who you can find on the Twitter machine @QBKlass. He wrote the chapter on the Vikings for this year’s Almanac, so he took the time to answer the five queries that I posed for this year’s squad. Today’s question has to do with the new faces on the Vikings’ roster and which one will have the greatest impact. Derrik’s answer was not one that I expected.

Outside of the new coaching staff, which of the Vikings’ new additions do you think will have the greatest impact on the team this season?

I’m excited to see if DL coach Chris Rumph can make this unit any better. I thought he did well with what he had in Chicago and made clear progress with some younger players, namely Trevis Gipson and his second-year jump.

Now, I know I said “outside of the new coaching staff,” but I’m not going to worry about that too much because Chris Rumph is not a name I would have immediately thought of. When people think of a new coaching staff’s impact, I’m guessing they generally think about the head coach and coordinators and not so much down to the position coach level.

Rumph has had a pretty long coaching career, but is relatively new to the NFL. After his playing career and some time as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, South Carolina, he coached the team at his former high school for five years. Then, after a year at South Carolina State, he spent five years coaching defensive ends at Clemson. He did a tour of a good portion of the SEC after that, with stints at Alabama (defensive line coach), Texas (defensive line coach), Florida (co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach), and Tennessee (co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach).

He finally got to the NFL in 2020 as the outside linebackers coach for the Houston Texans. After just one year there, he went to Chicago to coach their defensive line but was washed out when Matt Nagy’s staff was relieved of their duties. He’s now in Minnesota, and he’s going to have an opportunity to shape a lot of young and developing players.

Klassen mentions Trevis Gipson in his answer, and it looks like Gipson did develop quite a bit on Rumph’s watch. After a rookie season where he played in only seven games (with no starts), Gipson appeared in 16 games for the Bears last season, starting nine of them. He was second on the team in sacks with seven and now looks to be a solid long-term piece for the Bears to build around on the defensive front.

While the Vikings have a couple of established veterans on the front line in Harrison Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson, it will be interesting to see what Rumph can potentially do with some of the younger talent, such as Armon Watts, James Lynch, Esezi Otomewo, and Jalen Twyman. Watts and Lynch have had their opportunities to flash already, while Otomewo is a rookie and Twyman is coming off of a lost 2021 season. Can Rumph get the most out of their talent?

I hadn’t thought of Chris Rumph potentially being the most impactful newcomer to the Vikings this season. . .I was pretty solidly focused on players. . .but if Rumph can work a little bit of magic and follow in the footsteps of some of the very good defensive line coaches the Vikings have had in recent years in Karl Dunbar and Andre Patterson, it would go a long way towards helping the Vikings’ defense recover from what’s happened to them over the past two seasons.