George Iloka – S
When Harrison Smith was ejected from the game after his hit on Texans tight end Jordan Akins in the first half, it was George Iloka who was tasked with stepping in and filling his shoes. Iloka took this opportunity and then failed miserably for the Vikings.
Iloka was clearly lost in coverage and he didn’t have any clue what he was doing. Houston immediately picked on him and those plays resulted in touchdowns that allowed them back into the game.
Iloka is a veteran and he also has experience playing in Mike Zimmer’s system. While he certainly wasn’t ready to come in and fill Smith’s shoes, his status as a veteran in this league should’ve prepared him to play a little better than he did.
While seeing Iloka struggle was tough, much of the blame should go on Minnesota’s coaching staff and front office. They failed to bring in a veteran safety or draft one with a fairly high choice this past offseason. They also went into the regular season with no backups and in Week 4, they were punished for their hubris and lack of foresight with Smith’s ejection.
Following the game, Zimmer was pretty candid about the situation as he said that Iloka hadn’t practiced at safety all week and he mostly worked as the team’s nickel corner. Again, while Iloka struggled, the coaching staff did themselves no favors, and they deserved the substandard performance for their lack of foresight.