Scouting the Vikings schedule: Safeties

The Vikings will be coming up against some experienced and accomplished safeties in 2015. We take a game-by-game look at which safeties Minnesota will be up against next season and how they fared in 2014.

Chicago Bears: Home and Away
Ryan Mundy
The 2014 season did not start out the way Mundy wanted it to as he struggled in a lot of the games, but he was able to turn things around after the bye week and had a great second half of the season. Mundy led the team in tackles (103), was tied for the team lead in interceptions (four) and had the only defensive touchdown on the team when he returned one of his interceptions for a touchdown. Along with those stats, he also recorded one sack, one fumble recovery, and six passes defended.

Detroit Lions: Home and Away
Glover Quinn
Like Mundy, the 2014 season was Quinn’s sixth in the NFL, and it was a career year for the veteran safety. He recorded 73 tackles, a team-high seven interceptions, and 10 passes broken up. In his previous five seasons, Quinn had recorded just eight interceptions. At the end of the regular season, Pro Football Focus gave him a rating of 14.4, making him the third-highest rated safety in the NFL. He is 29 years old, but after the year he just had it is not too hard to believe that some good days are still ahead of him.

Green Bay Packers: Home and Away
Morgan Burnett
Burnett was the only Packers safety to earn a positive rating from PFF by the end of the year, and he did so with consistent play throughout the regular season. Throughout the course of the season Burnett played in 15 games and received a received a positive rating in nine of them. During that time he recorded a team-high 129 tackles, 1½ sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one interception and four passes defended. At the age of 26, Burnett is still in the prime of his career.

Seattle Seahawks: Home
Earl Thomas
At the end of the 2014 regular season, Thomas was rated as the fifth-best safety in the NFL by PFF. He was given a 13.6 rating after he recorded 97 tackles, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception, and six passes defended. Thomas played very consistently over the course of the regular season as he was only given a negative rating three times all season. His consistent play and the fact that he started all 16 games has made Thomas one of the key pieces for the Seahawks defense, which was ranked No. 1 overall at the end of the regular season.

Arizona Cardinals: Away
Tyrann Mathieu
There were a lot of character questions surrounding Mathieu in 2013 leading up the NFL draft. He was suspended from team activities in college for reportedly failing multiple drug tests, and many people were worried that it might carry over into the NFL. But instead of character problems, the trouble with Mathieu seems to be that he cannot stay healthy. In 2014 he only played in 438 defensive snaps. When he is on the field, though, there is no question that he is talented. He recorded 37 tackles, one fumble recovery, one interception, and four passes defended.

St. Louis Rams: Home
T.J. McDonald
It was a rough start to the 2014 season for McDonald, as he sported a -11.3 from PFF through the first eight weeks, never once getting a positive ranking. Then in Week 9, something seemed to click and he was able to turn his season around. At the end of the regular season PFF gave McDonald a 1.5 rating after he recorded 105 tackles, two sacks, one fumble recovery, one interception and seven passes defended. Now we will need to see whether or not the success he had later in the season can carry over into 2015 or not.

San Francisco 49ers: Away
Antoine Bethea
At 30 years old, Bethea still proved that he can get the job done at a high level throughout the 2014 season. At the end of the regular season, PFF gave Bethea a 12.2 rating after he recorded 86 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, four interceptions – one of which he returned for a touchdown – and 10 passes defended. That 12.2 rating made him the sixth rated safety in the NFL.

Kansas City Chiefs: Home
Husain Abdullah
Abdullah’s 1,048 defensive snaps were more than any other safety on the Chiefs’ roster. There were multiple injuries at the safety position for the Chiefs, which made the fact that Abdullah was able to play in all 16 games that much more important. During the 2014 regular season he recorded 71 tackles, one interception – which was returned for a touchdown – and 10 passed defended, which led to PFF giving him a 1.7 rating. Abdullah just finished his sixth season in the NFL and even though he is not the splashiest player on the Chiefs’ defense, or the most well-known safety, he provides Kansas City’s safety position with a veteran presence that is needed.

Denver Broncos: Away
T.J. Ward
For a majority of the season Ward was playing like many safeties in the league. He would have a good game here and a bad game there, but he was able to turn that all around and finish strong. In his final four games of the regular season – he missed the Week 17 game – he received a rating of 7.6, which helped boost his overall grade to a 1.9. Ward recorded 74 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and six passes defended. His fellow safety, Rahim Moore, had an equally good season, but is a free agent this offseason, which means that more might be expected from Ward in 2015.

San Diego Chargers: Home
Eric Weddle
Weddle has now been in the NFL for eight years, and all of them have been with the San Diego Chargers. Even though 2014 did not yield the best stats of his career, it may have been the best year he had, as he played the safety position really well, and to show for that PFF gave him a rating 18.9 – making him the highest rated safety in the NFL. During the course of the year Weddle recorded a team-high 114 tackles, two forced fumbles, one interception and eight passes defended. Even though he is 30 years old, Weddle has shown that he can still play football at a high level.

Oakland Raiders: Away
Charles Woodson
At the age of 38 Woodson is still as dangerous as ever as he led the Raiders in both tackles (112) and interceptions (four) during the 2014 regular season. Along with those stats he also recorded one sack, one fumble recovery and eight passes defended. And one of the most surprising things is that even after 17 years in the NFL he can still be on the field for 1,143 defensive snaps – fourth-most among safeties – and still perform at a high level. Over the course of the season Woodson would struggle from time to time both defending the run and in pass coverage, and at the end of the season PFF gave him a -3.9 overall rating. The Raiders obviously had a better opinion of his play and re-signed him to a new contract before he could reach free agency.

New York Giants: Home
Antrel Rolle
The 2014 season was a down year for Rolle, as there were only three of the 16 regular season games where he earned a positive rating from PFF. The area of his game that he struggled with the most was when he was forced to defend the run, and at the end of the regular season he was given a -13.9 overall rating. He still managed to play in 1,071 defensive snaps and record 87 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, three interceptions and nine passes defended. At the age of 32 Rolle finished his 10th year in the NFL, and this offseason will get the chance to test the free agent market and decide where he wants to play during the next chapter of his career.

Atlanta Falcons: Away
Dwight Lowery
Lowery did not miss a single game during the course of the 2014 season for the Falcons, and he was the only Falcons safety to earn a positive overall grade by PFF at the end of the regular season. In his 1,050 defensive snaps, Lowery recorded 79 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two interceptions and five passes defended. The seven-year veteran signed a one-year contract with the Falcons last offseason and will once again get the opportunity to test the free agent market.

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