8 keys to success for the Minnesota Vikings 2020 season

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Adam Thielen
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Adam Thielen /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Shamar Stephen – Minnesota Vikings /

Reconstructed interior of the defensive line must stop the run

Two domino events happened that left the Vikings interior defensive line in flux. First, Minnesota opted not to engage the remainder of Linval Joseph‘s contract. Instead, Joseph joined the Los Angeles Chargers. Then, the Vikings spent their paltry cap funds on Joseph’s replacement, a man named Michael Pierce from the Baltimore Ravens.

Pierce will not play this season due to COVID-19 concerns.

Therefore, the Vikings have a hole at the nose tackle position. It seems they have turned to Shamar Stephen to plug the hole, shifting him to nose tackle from the three-technique spot he has played historically.

Minnesota has not forced much quarterback pressure from the interior line portion of the defense during the last two seasons, but they have stopped the run admirably. Because Stephen (and whoever makes it out of camp as the new three-technique) probably won’t morph into a ferocious pass-rushing asset, the interior defensive linemen must stop the run at the same rate the team did in 2018 and 2019.

The Vikings can’t afford to trend downward on the run-stopping spectrum when the new secondary personnel is unusually young. A lackluster interior pass-rush, lessened prowess for run-stopping, and cornerbacks that are learning on the fly — would not be a favorable turn of events defensively.