Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings have gained a reputation for an aggressive style of defense.
Perception doesn’t always meet reality. The Vikings showed the blitz plenty, but in Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers, although they got to quarterback Philip Rivers plenty – credited with four sacks and 12 quarterback hits – it wasn’t always the blitz that did it.
It’s just that the Vikings were most effective when blitzing and did it more often in the first half.
“Quarterbacks don’t like getting hit. That’s why in practice they wear red jerseys because they don’t get hit,” said defensive end Everson Griffen. “It’s the bread and butter of the team, but we went back there and we hit them and it’s a great team win.”
Griffen is the Vikings’ leader in sacks with three through three games after registering 1½ in Sunday’s win.
WHAT THE FILM SHOWS
The Vikings sent an extra defender on a blitz nine times in the first half on the 21 times that Rivers dropped to pass, and only eight times in the second half in the 23 times that Rivers and backup Kellen Clemens dropped to pass.
The 18 times the Vikings blitzed produced three of the four sacks they generated. The one time they were burned was on the 34-yard touchdown toss to Keenan Allen in between Xavier Rhodes and Andrew Sendejo on the play that Rhodes suffered his concussion.
When the Vikings didn’t blitz, the Chargers completed 16 of 26 passes, including one touchdown, one sack and Chad Greenway’s interception that he returned for a touchdown.
The longest pass play of the game came on a 39-yard reception to Malcolm Floyd and it was the only time in the game the Vikings rushed three.
Griffen registered one of his sacks on a blitz and shared a sack with Sharrif Floyd when the Vikings rushed four.
While they blitzed on only 17 of 44 times the Chargers were attempting to pass, they sent six rushers four times and seven rushers once. Those five heavy blitzes produced two incompletions, a Tom Johnson sack and two completions for a combined 37 yards.
Not surprisingly, linebacker Anthony Barr was the primary blitzer, coming on extra-man rushes 13 times, credited with one sack and two quarterback hits.
“No quarterback likes getting hit. Their position is to get the ball off and stand back and look pretty,” Barr said. “When you kind of get them muddied a little bit, they don’t like that. Philip’s a great competitor, great quarterback, and we were able to affect him a little bit today.”
In all, the Vikings were credited with four sacks and an impressive 12 quarterback hits, easily led by Griffen’s five.