Minnesota Vikings: The Art of the “Bend Don’t Break” Defense

Wow. There are no words. An unbelievable game, with unbelievable performances from so many players. It would be easy to let that broken record keep playing by saying that this style of play is not sustainable. But, with a win against a Super Bowl favorite, the Vikings showed that this team has what it takes to win, no matter who their opponent is. Is it exactly how Kevin O’Connell drew it up? Probably not. However, the results speak for themselves. Seven wins in a row is not a fluke, it shows the fight in this team, especially the defense.

A Welcome Change
During the offseason, the Vikings fired their head coach Mike Zimmer after an eight-year stint. Throughout the beginning of his tenure with the team, the defense was his calling card. Mike Zimmer-lead Vikings defenses’ were feared, that was until the last couple of years of his time with the team when the squad was ranked among the worst in the league in many statistical categories. Until finally he was let go and the team brought in Ed Donatelle to take over the reins of the defense this year. This seemed to be the change of pace that the defense needed. Along with the additions of Jordan Hicks, Harrison Phillips, and Za’Darius Smith, this defense has made an impressive turnaround.

This defense has not necessarily turned into a dominant force on the field, we are not seeing another edition of the Purple People Eaters by any means. Admittedly, it was extremely frustrating to watch Josh Allen escape from the pocket and scramble for days against the defense. Still, this defense does not care about how many yards they give up or how much they may be losing. This defense cares solely about winning and the effort that has been demonstrated in the past seven weeks is what had been missing the last few years under the Zimmer regime. Ed Donatelle and Kevin O’Connell deserve a lot of credit for what they have been able to do with this team. They have implemented a culture that the players have responded to immensely and it has turned into wins.

You Can’t Measure Clutchness
Statistically, this defense does not jump off the page. Aside from forcing the second most turnovers in the league, the Vikings’ defense ranks in the middle of the pack in most relevant statistical categories. However, this defense is doing exactly what it needs to do to give the offense a chance to win. They are getting stops and turnovers when the team needs them most. Ten of the team’s 18 takeaways have come in the fourth quarter or overtime. This defense has been coming through in the clutch.

I’d be remiss to not bring up Patrick Peterson. After a below-average first year with the Vikings, he has come to be the life force of this defense. Under a new coach this year he has gone back to his prime Arizona form. He already has three interceptions this season as well as 12 passes defended, while he only had one and five all of last year, respectively. Plus, he just had one of the most clutch games you will ever see from a cornerback. Down by 10, with 10:42 left in the fourth quarter, the Bills decided to go for the kill shot on 4th & 2, and Patrick Peterson comes up with a huge interception and run back to set up the offense. Then, in overtime, after allowing the Bills to march down the field with 52 yards in 6 plays when it felt like the comeback would be all for naught, Peterson comes up with his second interception of the day in the red zone to ice the game. These clutch moments from a clutch player are what can end up making a team’s season.

While this Vikings’ defense may not spark fear in the opponent (even though it should), it has been doing a fantastic job keeping the team close enough for the offense to strike. So enough criticizing our so-called “shaky” secondary and so what if we rely on clutch turnovers? This defense can depend on Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter to apply the pressure while ballhawks, Patrick Peterson and Harrison Smith, do their thing. The art of the “bend don’t break” defense has been executed flawlessly by Ed Donatelle and his Vikings’ defense. Stop calling it unsustainable because 8-1 says otherwise.
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Matt w
Matt w
10 months ago

This is what we like to hear

10 months ago

Greatest article I’ve ever read. Beautiful work.

David Pérez
David Pérez
10 months ago

This should be one of the most rebound works in the world, such as the Divine Comedy or Homer’s The Odyssey

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