In what is becoming a troubling weekly ritual for a new team every week, an opposing quarterback starts the process of breaking down film of the Minnesota Vikings defense.
This week that is Houston QB Brock Osweiler. He spent 3½ years playing behind Peyton Manning before Manning finally broke down and Osweiler led the Denver Broncos to the playoffs, before Manning re-assumed his job as the starter.
He has a short body of work to come from in facing off with an elite defense on the road in a hostile, noisy environment. On Wednesday, Osweiler addressed the media on the topic of the Vikings defense and he had too many good things to say for an opposing quarterback looking to rally the fan base around the idea that the Texans can go on the road against an unbeaten team and take them down in their own house.
“There’s a lot to say about the Vikings defense and there are a lot of positives to say about the Vikings defense,” Osweiler said.
The most immediate concern for Osweiler is the combination of speed and power that the Vikings possess up front, embodied in ferocious pass rushers Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter and man-mover Linval Joseph in the middle.
They pose a unique set of circumstances for a quarterback with just 10 career starts.
“I think it starts with their front,” Osweiler said. “If you look at their defensive front, they’re a very active group. They’re getting up the field on the edges and taking it to the quarterback. On the interior, they’re really pushing the pocket. They’re really disruptive in the run game.”
He is mindful that they can blitz just as adeptly as they can plug up running lanes and drop into tight man coverage, which makes them dangerous duo a triple-threat backers capable of making game-changing plays.
“When you look at their ’backers, they’re a really young group, but they’re a very talented group,” Osweiler said. “They’re big. They’re physical. They’re fast. They flying to the football. They’re chasing plays down the field 30 yards. You see the front and the ’backers are just big, physical, getting to the football, making plays and causing chaos with offenses.”
Osweiler has gained a solid respect for the Vikings secondary, which is looking to shut down DeAndre Hopkins in a similar way they have Kelvin Benjamin and Odell Beckham Jr.
“When you look at the secondary, they really know how to play within that system,” Osweiler said. “There are some veteran guys back there. I believe they have some very savvy cornerbacks. They’re great pattern readers. They know when to jump on a ball and maybe bail out of there and playing a little soft. They know how to disrupt the timing of routes.”
In short, for Texans fans who are looking at running away from the rest of the pack and building on their two-game lead in the AFC South, Osweiler kind of tapped the brakes for them on Wednesday.
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Houston has the talent to win on Sunday, but Osweiler knows as much as anyone that the Vikings will be favored Sunday for a reason. Their defense is playing as well as it ever has in the Mike Zimmer era and Osweiler knows he may have to put out the best game of his young starting career to come back to Houston with both the Vikings and Texans sporting 4-1 records.
“Across the board when you look at the Vikings defense, you’re looking at a terrific defense,” Osweiler said. “We know the challenge we have going on the road and playing those guys this Sunday.”