The Minnesota Vikings were victorious against the Arizona Cardinals in their second preseason contest on Saturday night. While it is always nice to get a victory, there were some things that the team needs to improve upon and some other things that were executed very well.
I will break the game down into three separate sections to discuss them. Second is the defensive side of the ball. Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly on defense:
Three new starters shined in the first team defense. Everson Griffen showed in this game why he signed he huge deal that he did. He has an unbelievably quick step and could help Vikings fans forget about the future Hall of Fame defensive end who left in free agency. Also, linebacker Anthony Barr impressed once again. Barr got to the quarterback for the second time in two weeks and stripped the QB of the ball. Of particular note is how good Barr looked in coverage when he wasn’t executing a pass rush. Still really excited about this kid’s future. The final new starter that looked quite good in the front 7 is Sharrif Floyd. He plugged running holes well and pushed offensive linemen back.
Marcus Sherels was all over the field. For a guy that some were questioning as to whether or not he would make the final roster, he sure turned out an excellent effort on Saturday. He recorded 9 solo tackles and defended one pass while showing that he’s much, much more than just a punt returner. While Sherels shouldn’t be in the conversation as a starter, he’ll be a solid backup that could step in and play in a pinch.
The dropoff at nose tackle without Linval Joseph was huge. Fred Evans was disappointing filling in for Joseph and we actually saw productivity increase when backup Shamar Stephen replaced him. If this game showcased one major thing in this defense, it is how important Linval Joseph is to the success of the defensive line. Hopefully he is healing up well from being shot in the leg and will be ready to make his return for week 1 of the regular season.
The Vikings defense allowed too many conversions on 3rd and 4th down. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t absolutely terrible on third down when the Cardinals were able to pick up the first down on 7 of their 15 tries. The major issue was allowing Arizona to pick up all 4 of their attempts on 4th down. Vikings fans have grown tired of seeing this defense giving away leads and playing it safe. 11/19 on 3rd and 4th downs just isn’t going to cut it.
Backup defensive ends really struggled. With how much I really like Scott Crichton and Corey Wootton, I have to admit that they both looked bad on Saturday. Between the two players, penalties, falling for play action, biting on misdirections and generally being out of position. I understand how fast this Arizona Cardinals offense is, but a veteran like Wootton shouldn’t be falling for those tricks so consistently. And while Crichton is a rookie, he showed this game how raw he is when it comes to read and react type plays.