Vikings Will Rotate Defensive Linemen Whether Veterans Like it Or Not


Jul 26, 2013; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen (69) stretches during training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago there was a semi-controversy over then-first-year defensive coordinator Alan Williams’ plan to implement a rotational approach along the Vikings’ defensive line. Williams referred to his rotation plan as something akin to hockey lines with guys constantly going in and out. The controversy arose because some of the veteran players – mostly Jared Allen – objected to having their number of reps cut back in the name of staying fresh.

Now it’s a year later and we’re right back here again. We’re right back discussing defensive line rotations and whether veteran players will be able to buy in. Only this time Alan Williams – now in his second year and obviously more comfortable in his job – is being even more adamant about his desire to implement a rotation.

Williams spoke to the media on Tuesday and was asked about his D-line approach and specifically what guys like Jared Allen might think. This is what Williams had to say:

"Great question, but that is the same question we had from last year and the guys know that they are going to rotate, they know that at some point they are going to come out of the ball game. That is going to be the best thing for the team, not necessarily the best thing for their number of reps, but we want to make sure that we keep them fresh."

Williams cited three main reasons for implementing the rotation. 1. It will keep guys fresher for the end of the game when the defense needs to close it out. 2. It will keep guys healthier for the late-season playoff push. 3. It will get more guys more reps so if there is an injury you will have a next-man-up situation.

Sounds great coming from Williams’ mouth. But of course the same things were said last year and after a little pushback from Jared Allen, Williams backed off his approach. Jared ended up playing the majority of snaps and frankly his body didn’t handle it well. He ended up injury-ridden and obviously slowed.

Maybe Jared’s physical breakdowns from last year have convinced him of the prudence of the rotational approach? Or maybe Alan Williams is just comfortable enough in his role now that he can tell Jared where to stick his objections. We’ll see how Jared takes it. Jared might actually be more adamant about maximizing his snaps this year with his contract coming up. Ditto Brian Robison who is also looking to score a new deal.

Williams will have to sort this all out. Personally, I trust his judgment. He’ll do what’s best for the team. It’s not his job to help guys score new contracts, it’s his job to win games. If rotating 8 or 9 defensive linemen is the best way, then he’ll do it. Anything that gets Everson Griffen on the field more is fine by me.

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