If blitzing, use Wilson not Barr
Against the Packers, Mike Zimmer knew the Vikings defensive line probably wasn’t going to generate much pressure on its own, so he called a bunch of blitzes to try and bring down Aaron Rodgers.
In the end, Minnesota’s defense ended up blitzing 43.2 percent of the time. Only the Baltimore Ravens (54.8 percent) and Buffalo Bills (51.3 percent) blitzed more than the Vikings last week.
Unfortunately, none of Minnesota’s blitzes resulted in a single sack and the defense was only able to generate a total of four pressures during their loss to Green Bay.
Of the Vikings players who were asked to blitz in Week 1, linebacker Anthony Barr led the entire defense with nine blitzes. Despite his high number of blitzes, Barr didn’t even register a pressure, a sack, or even a hurry against the Packers.
This shouldn’t be surprising though. The Minnesota linebacker hasn’t been able to create much pressure with his blitzes in the recent past. Since 2018, Barr has generated pressure on just 11.9 percent of his blitzes.
He has been the guy Zimmer turns to when he wants a linebacker to blitz, but this needs to stop. Instead, the Vikings should turn to another linebacker to execute the majority of their blitzes and that is Eric Wilson.
Although his sample size is much smaller than Barr’s (30 blitzes in 2018 and 2019), Wilson was able to generate pressure on the opposing quarterbacks during 30 percent of his blitzes. That is a significantly higher rate and now that Wilson has moved into the starting lineup, Zimmer should turn to him as the defense’s new blitz specialist.
It’s something Minnesota should at least try in Week 2 because until Danielle Hunter returns, they’re not going to generate much pressure if Barr continues to be their primary blitzer.