Vikings Defense Primed to Bring Back the Purple People Eaters

Andy RAnalyst IAugust 11, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 21:  Pat Williams #94, Chad Greenway #52, E.J. Henderson #56, Kevin Williams #93 and Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings look on against the Carolina Panthers during their NFL game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 21, 2008 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Panthers 20-10. (Photo by David Sherman/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Vikings featured one of the best defenses in the NFL in 2008.

Leslie Frazier, the defensive coordinator for the Vikings, has transformed what used to be a major weakness in the organization for many years into a powerhouse.

He has done something that no other team has done in the history of the NFL: lead the league in rush defense three years in a row.

While the the rush defense has been supurb, the pass defense had suffered. Until last year anyway.

The Vikings finished 32nd in pass defense in 2007, but jumped 14 spots to 18th in 2008. They'll look to improve that number this upcoming season.

The defensive line was nearly unstoppable last season.

They've got everyone back and in full health. Jared Allen's shoulder is completely healed as is Pat Williams'.

Ray Edwards is entering his fourth season and second as a full-time starter. While his sack totals aren't where we want them to be, he is a great run stopper.

Then of course there's Kevin Williams, the best defensive tackle in the NFL today. His 8.5 sacks ranked him first among all defensive tackles in 2008.

Behind them, you have an underrated linebacking corps that features our "Superman" in E.J Henderson. The guy is healthy and ready to get back in hitting mode.

Chad Greenway proved that he was worthy of his first round draft status compiling 5.5 sacks. That ranked him first among outside linebackers in a 4-3 defense. On top of that, he compiled over 100 tackles.

Finally there's Ben Leber. He took over play-calling duties when Henderson went down last season. He showed that he's not afraid to put a hit on and doesn't fair too bad in coverage either.

The secondary features probably the best tackling cornerbacks in the business in Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin.

As we all know, Winfield had a career year in 2008 and earned himself a Vikings-friendly contract. At over 30 years old, he's playing his best football.

Cedric Griffin took a while, but finally came around in week five. He put a devastating hit on a Saints player and never looked back. Griffin developed some nasty physical skills that will make it hard for some opposing receivers to get of the line of scrimmage.

Madieu Williams was away from the Vikings for nearly half the season nursing an injured neck. It didn't seem to slow him down as his first game back was a great one. He compiled ten tackles and provided much needed assistance to Darren Sharper.

Well, Sharper is gone now and in steps his replacement Tyrell Johnson.

Sharper definitely showed signs of aging in 2008 recording only one interception the entire year.

While Johnson is young, he showed promise in his spot-start role for Williams last season. He hits extremely hard, but can find himself out of place. Playing on the same side as Antoine Winfield will help him progress as a player and allow him to make a nice slow transition to the starting role.

The Vikings return all but one starter from last season. That's definitely something to look forward to.

The Vikings finished sixth in overall defense in 2008 despite injuries to several key players.

Actually, they only finished a whopping .4 yards behind the fifth place New York Giants. That's pretty good company.

The 2009 Minnesota Vikings defense has the opportunity to be one of the best in franchise history. That's really saying something considering their vaunted 1970's defense took them to three Super Bowls.

With a talented Vikings defense and Adrian Peterson leading the way, there's no reason to believe that this team can't produce even better than 2008.


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