Run defense leaves Williams frustrated

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams was frustrated with the Vikings' inability to stop a basic running play by the Denver Broncos, and Leslie Frazier acknowledged the issues there as well. What was the problem that had Williams so frustrated?

These days, little escapes the critical eye on the Minnesota Vikings' defense.

While head coach Leslie Frazier sounded off on the performance of his secondary, which gave up three pass plays of 40 or more yards to Tim Tebow, things weren't much better with the Vikings' run defense Sunday against the Denver Broncos and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams knows it.

As a whole, the Vikings defense allowed a season-low 13 first downs and season-low 49 offensive snaps, but it was the length of the plays the Broncos were converting that left defenders confounded and frustrated, and it wasn't just in the passing game, where they allowed a season-high 10.9 yards per pass. In the running game, the Vikings yielded a 4.7-yard average, their third-highest average of the season, and gave up 150 net rushing yards, the second-most of the season and the second time in three weeks they have given up 150 yards or more.

It was the type of runs that were executed that were especially agitating to Williams.

"They just got in the fricken I-formation and came at us. They didn't even run the read (option) play – probably six times – probably not even that. It was straight smash-mouth football," said Williams, seemingly as frustrated as he's been after a game in some time. "We've got to make the tackles and get the guy down. It's unexcusable. You shut it down the first half, it's the same thing they were doing in the second half. They didn't go away from it and you just can't let those runs out. We missed some tackles and the runs got out."

The Broncos were held to 35 yards rushing in the first half and averaged only 3.2 yards per carry. Starting running back Willis McGahee had eight carries for 26 yards at halftime, but suddenly things turned around in the second half. McGahee ran 12 times for 85 yards in the final 30 minutes – a whopping 7.1-yard average.

"The one run that showed up in the second half a number of times is one that we can defend better if we tackle better. I think we can handle that," Frazier said.

Frazier seemed more concerned about the tackling by the linebackers and secondary rather than placing the blame on the defensive line, calling Denver's rushing success "a concern."

"When the ball gets to the second level, you have to be able to tackle the runner. We had the ball get to the second level a couple of times and it got out on us," Frazier said. "Tackling in the back end was a little bit of an issue in some of the things we did at one of our front positions. Yeah, it's a concern."

The Vikings have been tested up the middle of their defense often – 99 times, according to NFL data, which ranks seventh in the league. But they have also been relatively stout in that area, allowing a fifth-ranked 3.06 yards per carry up the middle. That wasn't the case in the second half of Sunday's 35-32 loss.

In the third quarter, McGahee had two runs up the middle that gained 11 and 14 yards, respectively.

"There wasn't nothing to fool us. It was I-formation, straight iso play. That's base football. You've got to gap out and play your assignment and make plays," Williams said, letting out a big sigh of frustration. "We can't control whose covering, but we can't let the runs out like that."

The Broncos test the middle of the opposing defense more than all but one NFL team. The Vikings' next opponent, the Detroit Lions, are struggling a bit more in their backfield, as Kevin Smith is trying to play through an ankle injury. However, while the Lions are average in the number of times they run up the middle, their 5.03-yard average on those runs ranks fifth in the league.

"Other people are going to see it on tape in these final four games and say, ‘OK, let's try to exploit that,'" Frazier said. "We'll have to get it fixed before we face Detroit."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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It was the type of runs that were executed that were especially agitating to Williams. \"They just got in the fricken I-formation and came at us. They didn't even run the read (option) play – probably six times – probably not even that. It was straight smash-mouth football,\" said Williams, seemingly as frustrated as he's been after a game in some time. \"We've got to make the tackles and get the guy down. It's unexcusable. You shut it down the first half, it's the same thing they were doing in the second half. They didn't go away from it and you just can't let those runs out. We missed some tackles and the runs got out.\" The Broncos were held to 35 yards rushing in the first half and averaged only 3.2 yards per carry. Starting running back Willis McGahee had eight carries for 26 yards at halftime, but suddenly things turned around in the second half. McGahee ran 12 times for 85 yards in the final 30 minutes – a whopping 7.1-yard average. \"The one run that showed up in the second half a number of times is one that we can defend better if we tackle better. I think we can handle that,\" Frazier said. Frazier seemed more concerned about the tackling by the linebackers and secondary rather than placing the blame on the defensive line, calling Denver's rushing success \"a concern.\" \"When the ball gets to the second level, you have to be able to tackle the runner. We had the ball get to the second level a couple of times and it got out on us,\" Frazier said. \"Tackling in the back end was a little bit of an issue in some of the things we did at one of our front positions. Yeah, it's a concern.\" The Vikings have been tested up the middle of their defense often – 99 times, according to NFL data, which ranks seventh in the league. 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