Chatter on the Minnesota Vikings involves the maturation of Teddy Bridgewater, missing the real storyline

As the buildup to the 2016 season is ramping up, Vikings fans can't get too deep into the conversation without Teddy Bridgewater being mentioned. But, if the Vikings are going to be a legitimate Super Bowl team, it will be based upon what got them there four times -- defense.

It’s interesting that in just about every discussion of the Minnesota Vikings during the offseason by both the local and national media, the topic of whether the Vikings are going to be successful in 2016 has been focused almost exclusively on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater taking a big step forward as a quarterback.

Some have expressed their doubts. Others have become Bridgewater apologists, being emphatic that his numbers will improve dramatically in 2015.

To those who are formulating their opinions based on Bridgewater are missing the forest for the trees. While it would be a great help to the franchise if Bridgewater becomes more of a consistent big-play maker, the only number that mattered for the Vikings was 11 – the number of wins they had in their final 15 regular season games to win the NFC North.

Given the pedestrian numbers Bridgewater posted as a game manager-type last season, it’s hard to imagine how good the Vikings could have been if he was a game-changer.

No, my friends. If the Vikings are going to repeat as division champs and potentially get back to the Super Bowl that has eluded them for 40 years, it’s going to be defense that does it for them. Whatever the offense brings to the table is gravy, because the Vikings have been elite and have as much depth on defense as they’ve had in years.

Up front, the Vikings run four deep in the middle with Linval JosephSharrif FloydTom Johnson and Shamar Stephen. Each has a role and the rotation is about as strong as any in the NFC.

At defensive end, Everson Griffen is a Pro Bowl player. Brian Robison is a veteran who is technically sound and Danielle Hunter exceeded expectations as a rookie and is in line to only get better. The battle for the fourth spot will be settled in training camp, but that trio more than gets the job done. At linebacker, the Vikings have two high draft picks in their youth – Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks – that are going to be foundation players for the future. Chad Greenway is riding in his last rodeo, but is coming off one of his most consistent seasons of his career. Depth is very good behind them with rookie Kentrell Brothers and free agent signees Emmanuel Lamur and Travis Lewis joining incumbents Edmond RobinsonAudie Cole and Brandon Watts – too many bodies for the number of roster spots available. The Vikings will cut a linebacker or two that will be claimed by other teams. They’re that deep with talent.

At cornerback, rookie Mackensie Alexander is going to push slot corner Captain Munnerlyn and the outside is ably manned by former first-round picks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes and veteran Terence Newman. With a strong four-deep corner corps, the Vikings look solid not only now, but into the future. If Marcus Sherels remains as the Vikings punt return specialist, there are five corner spots already spoken for.

At safety, Harrison Smith is one of the best safeties in the league and the team felt strongly enough about Andrew Sendejo to re-sign him to another contract. Rookie Jayron Kearse looks the part and will likely earn a roster spot because of his upside. Veteran Michael Griffin will have to beat out guys like Antone Exum and/or Anthony Harris to make his Vikings career something to note.

With any luck, the rest of the NFL will echo the sentiments of the offseason talking heads and believe that in order to beat the Vikings in 2016, they’re going to have to limit what Bridgewater does to them. If they do, they’ll be missing the point. The Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl with a decent quarterback and an aging Hall of Fame running back. They helped get them there, but it was defense that won the title. The Vikings defense isnt to the 1985 Bears level, but they should be very good and could be in that same mold heading into 2016.


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