Defense Talk Can Be Deceiving

Listening to all the talk/podcasts, etc. about the defensive players added to the roster seems to me to focus too much on individual saplings and not enough on the full grove of trees. Everyone talks about Booth, Cine, Asamoah, et al as though their contributions are strictly individual- e.g., does Booth get a PD, does Asamoah make the tackle.

One of the better post-year reviews of the 2021 Vikings defense was done by Arif Hasan, and he noted that a big reason for the world record lousy play in the 2 minute drill as well as other plays against the pass was the fact that there was essentially no one in the back 7 who could run. Lack of speed showed everywhere, but especially when trying to keep up with receivers in tight time series.

The 2022 draft is sometimes denigrated as an exercise in making too many "reaches", that is, drafting players higher than their pre-draft grades should have indicated. It looks to me as though this draft was explicitly not run with a BPA strategy- instead, a very deliberate plan was in place to add speed, period, to the back 7.

By these lights, it is a whole lot less important how many tackles, PD, etc. are credited to particular players. Instead, the goal was to make it far more difficult for offenses to easily run up yardage based on using fast players. If an Asamoah or Booth or Evans can just be in an area in position to get to a receiver very quickly, the QB looks elsewhere. By reducing the number of places to look, the overall defense is more effective even if fast player X does not run up Pro Bowl stats.

It seems pretty clear that the back 7 speed is a lot better than it was in 2021. It will be interesting to see if that pays off.

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