The Minnesota Vikings are on pace to give up 62 sacks this year. So far after seven games, they've allowed opponents to sack their quarterbacks 27 times. We've discussed at nauseam how bad the Bucs defense has been this year. Specifically, the defensive line has been a major disappointment. Coming off a bye week, the defense should be able to tinker with their scheme. Michael Johnson's ankle also should be close to 100%. If there was ever a game for the defense, and team, to turn their season around, it would be Sunday against the Vikings.
Greg Cosell, from NFL films who was on with Fan Interference Thursday morning, said the Vikings offensive line can be exposed. "And this is an offensive line that you should be able to get after. You really should be able to get after with your down four. You shouldn't need extra rushers the way this line has played up to this point."
This is what a Lovie Smith's defense should look like. Get pressure with four and cover with seven. That's easier said then done but against Minnesota that seems realistic. The Vikings offensive line has given up 19 sacks in the past three games. Injuries, no doubt, have played a big part in the offensive line's demise this year. Guard Brandon Fusco is out for the year with a shoulder injury. Center John Sullivan (concussion) and guard Vlad Ducasse (right knee) are expected to play against the Bucs but are banged up.
But probably the biggest issue has been the play of left tackle Matt Kalil. A pro bowler in 2012, Kalil has struggled mightely at left tackle this season. As head coach Mike Zimmer told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, playing well for the whole game has been a challenge. “For 93 percent of the game, he plays pretty good. But unfortunately, the three or four bad plays he has show up and [fans and media] get on him.
The Bucs defense needs a statement game this year. They need to prove to themselves that they can be a productive unit. Against Minnesota, they'll get that opportunity. Whether they take advantage of it is a whole other story.
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