Za’Darius Smith and the Minnesota Vikings improved to 6-1 on the season as they defeated the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8.
These Minnesota Vikings are a lot of fun to watch. They find different ways to win, and it seems like new faces step up each week to help secure the victory.
Minnesota also honored legendary pass rusher Jared Allen, who was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor at halftime.
Minnesota Vikings LB Za’Darius Smith paid tribute to Jared Allen in Week 8
Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith had seven solo tackles, including four for a loss and three sacks on the day in the team’s win over the Cardinals this past Sunday. Smith was consistently making plays in Arizona’s backfield, and he continues to be an absolute game-wrecker for Minnesota this season.
Part of what makes Smith so dominant is his versatility. The Vikings and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell are able to move the veteran linebacker around along the defensive line every week.
Sometimes, Smith is lined up over the center, and sometimes, he is coming off the edge. What is certain is that the opposing offense better identify where Smith is before the snap or they will find themselves introduced to him shortly after the snap.
Smith’s second sack of the game was a play that stopped what looked like a promising Cardinals drive in its tracks. The Vikings blitzed Smith from depth, meaning that his alignment was not on the line of scrimmage but rather where linebacker Eric Kendricks was playing.
Smith crept up on the snap of the ball and beat Arizona center Billy Price for the sack. Smith’s speed here makes him so hard to defend because he already has a full head of steam at the snap of the ball. That speed, mixed with his power, was an easy matchup against an overpowered Price.
Looking at the first interception Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray threw against the Vikings in Week 8, Smith was lined up as a defensive end on 1st-and-10.
Smith used a simple bull rush to collapse the pocket, and he was the first defender to put pressure on Murray. The Arizona quarterback felt the heat from Smith and stepped up in the pocket, where Minnesota defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga was waiting for him.
The pressure forced Murray to try to make a deep throw to Cardinals receiver Robbie Anderson, but he was not able to step into the throw and get enough power on it, thus the short throw into the hands of Vikings safety Harrison Smith for the easy interception.
This film review is an appreciation for Za’Darius Smith. He deserves all the credit in the world for the turnaround of Minnesota’s defense this season, as it has struggled in recent years.
He currently ranks first in the NFL in sacks with 8.5 and first in tackles for loss with 13. Credit to Minnesota general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings staff for getting a true game-wrecker in Smith.
With Minnesota at 6-1 and still having yet to play their best football, a homecoming matchup for Kirk Cousins awaits in Week 9 as the Vikings will travel to the nation’s capitol to play the for-sale-by-owner Washington Commanders.