Friday night Jasper Brinkley took a big step forward in his quest to become a viable starting NFL middle linebacker. That’s what we keep hearing from the team and that’s what some local media people have gone with. But not everyone is buying that Brinkley showed huge improvement Friday night. Those tapehounds at Pro Football Focus broke Brinkley down and they are not that impressed. Here’s what the PFF boys had to say:
For the most part Brinkley was an invisible man. Once, in the first drive, the announcers mentioned Brinkley missed a tackle, but really it was Greenway while Brinkley wasn’t actually on the field for the play. He was often the second or third guy to get to the offensive player, but early on didn’t come up with any sort of big play. He did allow a first down catch by Kory Sperry though.
It wasn’t until the fourth drive when Brinkley made an impact as he tallied an unblocked sack. On the following play he read a screen successfully, and later on had another unblocked pass rush where he hit Whitehurst as he threw. While those were all good plays, they came at a point where almost everyone on the field for San Diego was a backup even though the Vikings kept their starters in for the most part. Since he is just a two down player, Brinkley shouldn’t be that big of a liability for the Vikings, but it would’ve been nice for him to have made more of an impact in the run game.
Run defense is where Brinkley is going to either prove himself or not prove himself. He’s not going to make hay pass blitzing, especially when he’s going up against real starting offensive lines. He’s not even going to be in with the nickel package so coverage is not a major factor. It’s all about him improving sideline-to-sideline and generally playing under control. Is he getting better in those areas? Hard to get a read off what we’ve seen so far in preseason. Not saying Brinkley won’t get the job done, just saying he’s still very much a work in progress.