Vikings Secondary Preview by Joel Schafer

The Vikings  secondary was much improved from the 2013 to 2014 campaign.  Many things have accounted for this. Talent and coaching are the major factors as to why this happened. Out went the Tampa 2 defense bend but don’t break approach with Leslie Frazier leading the team. In comes the Punch you in the mouth, mono-a-mono approach of Zimmer. More aggression is now the calling card of this vastly improved secondary.  So what is in store for 2015?

If you told me that Robert Blanton was the answer at the other safety spot next to Harrison Smith I would laugh pretty hard. Robert takes too many bad angles to the football. He does not emulate the type of hitter that you want in the back-end . With only one interception and 3 pass defenses in 2014, he needs to get pushed.  Andrew Sendejo  is a solid back up that hits hard and plays ferocious as  a back up safety and special teams player. Sendejo is a solid backup and is worth his weight in gold in the kicking game. Antone Exum seemed lost most of his rookie season and was rarely on the field. Look for him to make a jump in preseason to push for starting role. The Vikings snatched him up in the 6th round in 2014 and are looking to have the kid make the types of impact he did at VT.  The Vikings have one Impact player at saftey in Harrison Smith, the other guys would be back-up and special teams players on other teams.

With all the problems that we have at safety the Corner-backs however look to be a much improved group in 2015. Xavier Rhodes was the best of the Viking DBs the last 12 weeks of the season. He really took to the Zimmer approach of playing defensive back. The ball was rarely thrown his direction the last half of the season. Rhodes was locked in man coverage with little help the majority of the season and this will continue.

Josh Robinson is a question mark for 2015 during OTAs Robinson partially tore his Pectoral muscle and will start on the PUP list. Robinson is not a fan favorite, he was in the right place to make plays all year. Robinson who is listed at 5’10”  when in reality he is closer to 5’8″ was exposed by Big receiver that could jump and box him out in the Red-zone. People remember Brandon Marshall doing jumping jacks presnap  to tell Culter “he is too small, Throw it up to me”. We all know what happened next and there is no need to get it to the results, Robinson was in the right position to make a play regardless of the outcome.  Robinson will be in the right position if he is available to play this year, I do however see him being pushed into the Dime package and not playing near as many snaps as he did the year before (629 snaps in 2014).

The odds of first round draft pick Trae Waynes starting opposite Rhodes seem to be going up the closer we get to camp. Zimmer noted that Waynes picked up the schemes in OTAs faster than anyone he has ever coached. Could this be propaganda or a little bit of a sugar coating?  Come the season opener we will find out for sure.  Waynes came from Michigan State where the Corner played a lot of press coverage. Waynes did not shy away from contact in college and won’t as a pro.

Minnesota brought in a Mike Zimmer reclamation  project  from his Bengal years in Terance Newman. Newman was flat-out horrible in his last year with Dallas. He played very respectable ball in Cincinnati. The aging veteran knows the system and plays outside and in the slot and will make the team. Newman may also get some reps at the very thin safety spot.

Captain Munnerlyn is coming off his worst season as a pro, this is not my opinion or any sabremetritcian’s view. This is Captain’s thoughts on his own season. Munnerlyn played decent football, but not what Skol nation was expecting out of him. Munnerlyn will see a lot of time as the nickle-back if he is to make the team. Munnerlyn could be a victim of the numbers game where he may get cut or traded with the latter being a more likely scenario.

Marcus Sherels did not find himself on the field nearly as much as 2013 when the defensive backfield was in shambles and depleted. Sherels is a guy that may find himself in a different uniform by the end of training camp. If Sherels makes the team, it will be for his punt returning ability in which he has the capability to take it to the house.

   

With less than week left before training camp starts the anticipation level is growing. Rarely are there trades that happen during camp or during the season, will this year be any different. Vikings have a need of better than back up option at safety, will Speilman pull the trigger with one of the positions of strength and get another impact safety? Will the coaches shift Newman, Munnerlyn or Sherels to safety? One can only hope this wound is attended to properly.