Can anyone remember a time when the Minnesota Vikings had safeties playing this well? In the past five weeks, we’ve seen one of the biggest question marks of the team heading into the regular season turn into one of our best group of playmakers. From all the big stops made by Sanford to the game-changing hit on Megatron by Harrison Smith, these safeties are no slouches.
Though maybe the most overlooked position on the defensive side of the ball at any given time, the combo of Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford has proved to be one of not only smarts but of intensity and energy as well.
This is an unlikely success story to this point. Coming into his fourth year, Sanford found himself behind Mistral Raymond on the Vikings’ depth chart. Ever since Raymond went down early in the season with an ankle injury, the disappointed Sanford has, thus far, taken great advantage of his opportunity at safety. Much like Sanford, the Notre Dame draftee, Harrison Smith, came into the 2012 season with uncertainty from a fan’s perspective. To this point, not only has he proven himself as a valuable coverage safety, but a hard-hitter in the same respect. While most people were frustrated to see Smith make a boneheaded play that ended up with his ejection this past Sunday against the Titans, others see it as a testament to a new attitude that has been long-absent from the Vikings secondary for so many seasons.
How many games have the Vikings defense had to endure shoddy tackling and even worse coverage from the likes of Darren Sharper, Madieu Williams, and Tyrell Johnson? How many times have the Vikings safeties seemed invisible? No more. This new-look secondary in Minnesota has all the tools to succeed in the cover-2 scheme that Frazier favors. With a defensive line as aggressive as any in the NFL and an overachieving linebacker corps, these safeties are no longer a liability. With solid play coming from the cornerbacks and their efforts anchored by the safeties, this defense has a new level of energy that we haven’t seen for so many seasons. Playmakers, watch out.
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