Where is the Elite Defense?

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VikingLord
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Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by VikingLord » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:33 pm

I am surprised nobody else has brought this up, but with the focus on the specific outcome of the game against the Packers I can understand, but where, oh where, has the #1 defense from last year gone?

Last year's elite defense seems to have vanished starting with the 2nd half of the playoff win against the Saints and is nowhere to be found. Despite returning 10 of 11 starters, and the new starter being a rejuvenated Sheldon Richardson who has probably been their most impactful defensive player through 2 games, where has the defense gone?

So far this season playing a home game against a marginal 49er offense and a hobbled Packer offense, their ranks are as follows:

Yards per game - 13th
Passing yards per game - 15th
Rushing yards per game - 13th
Points per game - 16th (slightly skewed by special teams disaster, but still not great even taking that out)
First downs surrendered - 23rd (44 total)
3rd down percentage - 11th (34.6)

So, the Vikings went from the league's #1 defense to a decidedly average defense just like that? And it can't be argued that they did some bend-but-don't-break, either, because they were behind all game against the Packers and never comfortably in front of the 49ers.

Just for context, the 49er offense currently ranks 21st overall (26th passing, 3rd rushing, 17th scoring) and the Packers currently rank 17th (11th passing, 25th rushing, 10th scoring), so it's not like the defense has faced 2 elite offenses or anything. But those are coming and are on the schedule.

I guess I'm trying to understand where the defense has gone? The assumption all offseason was the offense needed a bump, but the defense was dialed in and could be even better than last year. I'm beginning to wonder if that assumption is valid. The defense hasn't been terrible, but they haven't been dominant either. I was very disappointed the Packers got away with so much offensive holding yesterday, but the defense couldn't consistently stop a very pedestrian Packer running game. They piled up almost 100 yards rushing. The defensive backs didn't jump a single short route knowing Rodgers was fairly immobile and likely didn't have time to let deeper routes develop. Not one. Very few pass breakups either, or even attempts at them. I thought the defensive line played pretty well again, especially given all the holding, but they also didn't get as much pressure or disruption as I expected. Rodgers really couldn't move much. He was pretty immobile. Defensively, I felt they paid him way too much respect given the circumstances, both in terms of being aggressive in coverage and in blitzing. I was so glad to see that blitz on the final Packer possession in OT. I thought for a minute there they were going to let him sit back and find someone.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Is the defense in trouble? Is this a group that can be counted on to win games and take this team deep into the playoffs? If it is, what are they missing so far this year and can it be fixed?

I am worried about them. I think they have taken a fairly big step backwards.
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by Maelstrom88 » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:44 pm

I agree. They definitely have not looked as good as I expected. The playaction bootleg to the tight end was wide open again this week too often. They need to get that sorted out. I do have confidence in the players and coaches and am hopeful they will tighten up as the season progresses. At the end of regulation it was appalling how easy GB got into field goal range as well. I thought that white DT looked pretty decent. If they don't look dominant against the Bills it's time to panic.
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by Cliff » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:08 pm

Keeping in mind their bad position due to missed field goals and the blocked punt for a td and against Rodgers ... I've got to say I've been more upset with the D.
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by mansquatch » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:15 pm

I've been commenting on it for 2 weeks now...

First and probably most important comment: It is week 2. Sharpness will come with time.

That being said, the open field tackling has been an issue and needs to get cleaned up. Pass Rush has been streaky, need to be more consistent. Coverage has also been streaky. Bottom line, the unit as a whole needs to clean up it's consistency.

Benefit of the Doubt: In week 1, they played probably best overall play caller in Kyle Shanahan. Even Zimmer commented on how well Kyle was changing it up. In week 2, they played the best QB in the league. So some of it is also the talent they have played. That being said, you have to beat that talent to win the SB, so they need to clean it up.
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by 808vikingsfan » Mon Sep 17, 2018 3:20 pm

It may just be too early to tell. Don't have time to look up all the stats but the Vikings were ranked 23rd in total yards and 21st in points last year through two games.

They have been having a hard time getting off the field so far which is concerning.
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by Cliff » Mon Sep 17, 2018 3:35 pm

I'd still argue holding Rodgers to 281 (15th in the league last week) passing yards and 1 TD through 5 quarters isn't half bad. Did we do it at the expense of our run defense? Yeah, probably, but that's the trade off to contain the best QB in the league.

They also allowed only 15 yards to him in over time and set the team up to win the game with the sack ...

I'm not concerned about the defense, personally.
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by Raptorman » Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:14 pm

Let's not panic just yet.
These are the numbers after two games this year compared to the first two games last year.

Code: Select all

        PPPG                 Vikes offense                      Defense yards allowed
      Vike  Op		YPC 	PYPG	RYPG			YPC 	PYPG	RYPG
2017   19  22.5		354	244	110			340	259	81
2018   27  22.5		412	320	92			339	245	94
So Defensive PPG is the same at this time last year. as it yards per game for the defense. However, the Offense is showing a big difference.
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Pondering Her Percy
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by Pondering Her Percy » Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:25 pm

Cliff wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 3:35 pm
I'd still argue holding Rodgers to 281 (15th in the league last week) passing yards and 1 TD through 5 quarters isn't half bad. Did we do it at the expense of our run defense? Yeah, probably, but that's the trade off to contain the best QB in the league.

They also allowed only 15 yards to him in over time and set the team up to win the game with the sack ...

I'm not concerned about the defense, personally.
Same here cliff. Most of that 29 points was caused by penalties. And special teams. Let’s not forget that Carlson’s first two missed came at near midfield. I’m not worried whatsoever. This D is loaded and teams are going to struggle against it
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by Pondering Her Percy » Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:29 pm

And let’s be honest, the current #1 total offense statistically is Tampa bay and the #1 defense is Washington. Does anyone believe either of those will hold up? No.
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by S197 » Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:35 pm

VikingLord wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:33 pm
I am surprised nobody else has brought this up, but with the focus on the specific outcome of the game against the Packers I can understand, but where, oh where, has the #1 defense from last year gone?

Last year's elite defense seems to have vanished starting with the 2nd half of the playoff win against the Saints and is nowhere to be found. Despite returning 10 of 11 starters, and the new starter being a rejuvenated Sheldon Richardson who has probably been their most impactful defensive player through 2 games, where has the defense gone?

So far this season playing a home game against a marginal 49er offense and a hobbled Packer offense, their ranks are as follows:

Yards per game - 13th
Passing yards per game - 15th
Rushing yards per game - 13th
Points per game - 16th (slightly skewed by special teams disaster, but still not great even taking that out)
First downs surrendered - 23rd (44 total)
3rd down percentage - 11th (34.6)

So, the Vikings went from the league's #1 defense to a decidedly average defense just like that? And it can't be argued that they did some bend-but-don't-break, either, because they were behind all game against the Packers and never comfortably in front of the 49ers.

Just for context, the 49er offense currently ranks 21st overall (26th passing, 3rd rushing, 17th scoring) and the Packers currently rank 17th (11th passing, 25th rushing, 10th scoring), so it's not like the defense has faced 2 elite offenses or anything. But those are coming and are on the schedule.

I guess I'm trying to understand where the defense has gone? The assumption all offseason was the offense needed a bump, but the defense was dialed in and could be even better than last year. I'm beginning to wonder if that assumption is valid. The defense hasn't been terrible, but they haven't been dominant either. I was very disappointed the Packers got away with so much offensive holding yesterday, but the defense couldn't consistently stop a very pedestrian Packer running game. They piled up almost 100 yards rushing. The defensive backs didn't jump a single short route knowing Rodgers was fairly immobile and likely didn't have time to let deeper routes develop. Not one. Very few pass breakups either, or even attempts at them. I thought the defensive line played pretty well again, especially given all the holding, but they also didn't get as much pressure or disruption as I expected. Rodgers really couldn't move much. He was pretty immobile. Defensively, I felt they paid him way too much respect given the circumstances, both in terms of being aggressive in coverage and in blitzing. I was so glad to see that blitz on the final Packer possession in OT. I thought for a minute there they were going to let him sit back and find someone.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Is the defense in trouble? Is this a group that can be counted on to win games and take this team deep into the playoffs? If it is, what are they missing so far this year and can it be fixed?

I am worried about them. I think they have taken a fairly big step backwards.
One issue is the context isn't really a fair comparison. You're saying the defense has been average playing against statistically average opponents. But the stats of one influence the other. You can't have a elite defense on one team and an elite offense on the other. You need a larger sample size against other opponents otherwise they cancel each other or magnify the results.

That aside, the defense does need to play better. 22 points (discounting the blocked punt) is okay but not elite and honestly I think it's tough to be elite in this day and age where the offense is so heavily favored. What I do like is the defense has stepped up in both games in the 4th/OT. It shows adaptability and the ability to succeed under pressure.
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by PacificNorseWest » Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:17 pm

They'll rev up. I don't have many concerns about the defense right now.
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by 808vikingsfan » Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:38 pm

I'd bet the Vikings are close to the top in redzone defense.
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by TheCoolerOne » Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:33 am

I don't think the results should just be tossed out, but there are only two quarterbacks in the NFL that give you a sinking feeling when lined up against them. We happen to play one of them twice a year (the other is Brees, and we end up playing him quite a bit too.)

Obviously that statement is just my opinion, but no one else, even Brady, makes me feel that regardless of down and distance, we'll be lucky to get off the field. We played Rodgers for, what, 17 minutes last year? Our defense was sick, clearly, but I don't think it is outrageous to think that'd it have been a little less so had we played Rodgers for the full 120 he was slated to duke it out with us.

There were some hiccups with Kittle and Juszczyk against the 9ers, sure, but really not a big deal. Against any other team, I think it is fair to say, "hey, is anyone else worried about our defense?" But, when it comes to Rodgers or Brees, the only metric should really be, "did we win?" In this instance, we did not, but we were in the position to do so, and that's pretty dang solid.

I keep thinking back to the play in overtime where Rodgers mishandled the ball on that little bootleg and had to go down and take a sack or TFL. They didn't even show what he was looking at on a replay or anything, but there is no doubt, at least in my mind, that it would have been some brilliant first down chuckarooni to Cobb or worse, some guy who has three receptions on his career. Cuing the oozing from the commentators' booth about Rodgers, the play call, and "that's how you earn the trust of your quarterback right there! Great job by the young wideout." That would have been followed by two or three more plays for fieldgoal range, and then the inevitable Crosby banger.
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by 808vikingsfan » Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:31 am

Found this post on reddit. Colin talks about GB fans and Clay's hit but then he drops a most surprising stat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBJWfYe ... be&t=6m23s

For those that don't want to watch the video, the stats was :

The average QBR from this past Sunday, was higher than Aaron Rodgers career QBR. It's an offensive league and it's only getting more offensive (pun intended).


Thread here

https://www.reddit.com/r/minnesotavikin ... gers_rule/
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Re: Where is the Elite Defense?

Post by Maelstrom88 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:17 pm

It makes me mad how difficult the NFL is making it to play elite defense. You almost can't even touch the QB anymore. Same goes for WRs during coverage and on the Tackle. It's just ridiculous. I've always preferred watching stifling defense to a dynamic offense. It will be interesting to see if any defense can hold the average ppg allowed to under 20 this year.
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