Vikings' best and worst vs. pass and run

The Vikings' pass defense is statistically among the worst in the NFL, but which Vikings are the best and the worst against the pass (and the run). We examine by how the defense does when they are on and off the field.

Over the past few days, we have looked at some of the statistics that helped define the Minnesota Vikings and their individual players over the first four games of the season.

Perhaps no unit has been at fault as much as the defense, which entered the bye weekend giving up 75 yards per game more than the league average. Falling that far behind the league average is all on the pass defense, as the Vikings are giving up 78 yards more against the pass than the NFL average. So who are the biggest individual offenders and who has been solid?

CB A.J. Jefferson hasn't been on the field that much – only nine snaps total – but the Vikings defense gave up 6.79 yards more when he was on the field. No other player on defense even came close to that, probably somewhat due to Jefferson's limited sample size and the long touchdown he gave up to Josh Gordon in Week 3. The next cornerback in line after Jefferson was Marcus Sherels, and the Vikings only gave up 0.88 yards more on passing plays with him on the field.

In that category, Chris Cook (minus 0.61) was best, followed by Xavier Rhodes (minus 0.10).

Those statistics take into account field position, down and distance.

The Vikings have the most success against the pass when first-round pick Sharrif Floyd is on the field. They give up, on average, 1.49 yards fewer per pass plays when he is on the field – which is 38 percent of the time.

As for the run defense, Jefferson once again tops the charts. The Vikings give up 3.67 more yards per play when he is on the field.

LB Desmond Bishop is the only other player with a rushing differential above 1 yard. The Vikings give up 1.04 yards more rushing when he is on the field, but he got more time than starter Marvin Mitchell against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday – 15 snaps to Mitchell's 10.

While Floyd was good against the pass, he was third on the list of defenders in the rushing differential, with the team giving up 0.93 more yards per rush with him on the field.

Conversely, the starter in front of Floyd, veteran Kevin Williams, is on the other end of that equation. They give up 1.56 fewer yards per rush when he is on the field, best among the Vikings.

Only one other player, safety Andrew Sendejo, has a rushing differential better than 1 yard. The Vikings give up 1.23 yards fewer when he is on the field.


So which players are most involved on offense and defense?

The offensive snaps wouldn't surprise anyone. All five of the offensive linemen have played all 250 snaps. The only other offensive player above 90 percent is TE Kyle Rudolph, who has been in for 96 percent of the offensive plays.

On defense, Chad Greenway has been the only Viking to play 100 percent of the snaps. Fellow linebacker Erin Henderson was close – missing only three of 299 defensive snaps for 99 percent of the plays. Safety Harrison Smith also comes close, with 98 percent of the snaps.

After those three, only one other player, Jared Allen, has more than 90 percent of the defensive snaps played. Allen has played in 93 percent of them.

The Vikings tend to spread around their special teams duties, but the two most-worked players on the coverage teams are Larry Dean (64 percent) and Robert Blanton (62 percent).

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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