Captain Munnerlyn came to Minnesota compete for a starting spot and ended up a leader on and off the field. Plus, find out where the Vikings and Patriots rank in numerous categories after Week 1.
For all of the Vikings, today’s game with the New England Patriots
will be the home opener – the first official game in the team’s two-year tenancy at TCF Bank Stadium. But for one of them, it means a little more.
is an exception to the new-look Vikings. The organizational belief system is to build from within through the draft and rarely dip into the free agent pool. Munnerlyn was an exception to that rule.
A four-year player with the Carolina Panthers
, he was a member of one of the league’s top defenses in 2013. But when the Panthers didn’t step up with an offer to Munnerlyn’s liking, he explored his options and the Vikings were one of his targets.
“I liked the changes that were coming to Minnesota,” Munnerlyn said. “I have a lot of respect for Coach (Mike) Zimmer and there is a lot of experience on this staff. When Minnesota showed an interest in me, I knew this was a place where I wanted to be.”
Munnerlyn stepped into a role that was thought to be a nickel corner when he arrived. Despite being new to the team, his work ethic and infectious personality made him an unexpected defensive leader.
“I don’t think you come out and say you’re a leader; other people say that about you,” Munnerlyn said. “To me, being a leader means going out every day – in games, in practice, in meetings, in film study – and work as hard as anybody out there. I love football, so it’s easy for me to do that. I don’t necessarily think that makes you a leader, but it let’s everyone know that you’re all business when it’s time to go to work.”
Munnerlyn signed to compete for a starting job, but was on the field for all but one defensive play in the regular-season opener. In a defense known for rotating players, he doesn’t want to leave the field – especially with Tom Brady
trying to test him.
“I’ve always looked forward to playing against the best,” Munnerlyn said. “Guys like Peyton Manning
and Tom Brady, you don’t get to play them often because we’re in different conferences. In my opinion, Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the game. I know what he’s capable of. That’s what motivates me. I want that challenge.”
Sounds like the words of a leader – even if he’s reluctant to officially take on that label.
VIKINGS-PATRIOTS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the 20th-ranked offense (5th rushing, 30th passing) and the 10th-ranked defense (7th rushing, 20th passing).
The Vikings are averaging 345 yards a game (185 rushing, 160 passing) and are allowing 318 yards (246 passing, 72 rushing).
New England has the 25th-ranked offense (21st rushing, 18th passing) and the 14th-ranked defense (29th rushing, 4th passing).
The Patriots are averaging 325 yards a game (226 passing, 89 rushing) and are allowing 360 yards a game (191 rushing, 169 passing).
The Vikings defense leads the league in sacks per pass play.
Minnesota is tied for fourth place in giveaway/takeaway ratio at plus-2 (two takeaways, zero giveaways). The Patriots are tied for 11th at plus-1 (three takeaways, two giveaways).
The Vikings and Patriots are both tied for first in red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns on both of their red zone possessions.
The Vikings are tied for first in red zone defense, not allowing a touchdown on the only time an opponent got in the red zone. The Patriots are tied for 10th in red zone defense at 50 percent (three touchdowns on six possessions).
The Vikings are tied for 26th in third-down offense, converting just 3 of 12 opportunities (25 percent).New England is 23rd at 29.4 percent (5 of 17).
Defensively, Minnesota is tied for eighth on third down, allowing just 28.4 percent conversions (4 of 14). The Patriots are 27th at 53.8 percent (7 of 13).
The Vikings lead the NFL in yards per play on first down at 8 yards a pop. New England is 31st (3.42 yards).
Defensively, the Vikings are seventh on first-down yards allowed (4.61). The Patriots are 15th, allowing 5.26 yards.
Cordarrelle Patterson was one of only eight players to rush for 100 yards in Week 1.
Matt Cassel is 28th in attempts (25), 28th in completions (17), 12th in completion percentage (68.0), 30th in yards (178), tied for third in touchdowns (2), tied for first in interceptions (0) and fourth in passer rating (113.8).
Tom Brady is second in attempts (56), tied for fifth in completions (29), 32nd in completion percentage (51.8), 16th in yards (249), tied for 17th in TD passes (1), tied for first in interceptions (0) and 29th in passer rating (69.7).
Cassel is third in fourth-quarter passer rating (143.1) while Brady is 31st (39.6).
Cassel is 12th in third-down passer rating (105.7). Brady is 28th (39.6).
Patterson is sixth in the NFL in rushing with 102 yards on just three rushes. Adrian Peterson is 11th with 75 yards. Shane Vereen leads the Patriots with 36 yards, which ties him for 40th place.
Julian Edelman is tied for 22nd in receptions with five. Greg Jennings leads the Vikings with five receptions, which also ties him for 22nd place.
Edelman is 16th in receiving yards with 95. Jennings leads the Vikings with 58 yards, which ties him for 52nd place.
Blair Walsh is tied for seventh in scoring among kickers with 10 points. Stephen Gostkowski is tied for 13th with eight points.
Walsh is tied for first in touchbacks with six. Gostkowski is tied for 22nd with two.
Patterson is seventh in yards from scrimmage with 128 (102 rushing, 26 receiving). Edelman is tied for 12th with 116 yards (95 receiving, 21 rushing).
Jeff Locke is eighth in punting average at 47.4 yards. New England’s Ryan Allen is seventh at 48.2 yards.
Locke is eighth in net punting average at 42.6 yards. Allen is 22nd at 36.2 yards.
The Patriots Patrick Chung is eighth in the league in kickoff return average at 25.0 yards. Patterson is 10th with a 24.0 yard average.
Everson Griffen is tied for first in the league with two sacks.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.