Most football pundits will tell you that while offense attracts attention from average fans, defensive play will guide teams to championships. With the Vikings defense becoming a trademark under Mike Zimmer, we’d like to find out fans:
“What defensive position is the most important in your estimation?”
“I’d have to say the under tackle or the nose guard. That position holds down the center of the defensive line and if he’s doing his job, all the dominoes start to fall into place.”
– Tony Ledwein, Moorhead, Minn.
“To me the middle linebacker is the most important. That player is in control of the entire defense and he has to pay attention to everything going on and cover things against both the pass and the run.”
– David Cray, Mankato, Minn.
“Cornerback, because the NFL has turned into a pass league and we’ve all seen the numbers even tight ends put up. If cornerbacks aren’t holding their own, it’s over. You’ve got to have big, strong cornerbacks to hold up with these big, strong receivers.”
– Rick Jacobson, Sauk Rapids, Minn.
“I think it’s the defensive end. You need a guy who can get around the corner and get in the quarterback’s face before he can sit there and pick you apart.”
– Bill Cole, Rochester, Minn.
“I think it has to be the linebacker. They are always in the middle of everything, directing the defense and having to be the best defenders of both the run and the pass.”
– Ben Goodwin, Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
“If you are talking about overall importance to the defensive, I think you have to say the safeties. Look at a guy like Harrison Smith. He’s asked to come up and stuff the rushers on run support, get back and help with pass coverage, deal with tight ends over the middle, and even blitz every now and then. That’s the total package to me.”
– Steve Torkelson, Bloomington, Minn.
“Tough call. Obviously, you need some strength both on the line and at linebacker, but we saw a few years ago with the Vikings what happens when you come up short in the secondary. I’ll go with that.”
– Joe Longshore, Faribault, Minn.
“I know it’s a passing league, but I’ll still take a big, physical run stuffer at nose tackle like Pat Williams was. When Williams was with the Vikings, they had one of the top defenses in the league because no one could run on them. Once that was out of the opponent’s playbook, teams became much more one-dimensional against us.”
– Stan Fitzgerald, Waterloo, Iowa
“I’ve always thought the middle linebacker is the quarterback of the defense. They have to make the defensive calls and they are the eyes of the defense.”
– Troy Baas, Cedar Falls, Iowa
“Probably the safeties. You have to help out the corners on the deep pass so you don’t give up the easy touchdowns over your head.”
– Tracy Dunn, Winona, Minn.
“The linebacker, especially the middle linebacker, is crucial to stop the run and also he has to watch the tight ends move through their pass routes. They’re probably one of the best athletes on the team.”
– Jim Bremer, Proctor, Minn.
“I played this in college so I know the nose guard can disrupt the quarterback and the entire offense. Here’s the thing. Give any quarterback three seconds and they can pick the secondary apart so the trick is don’t give them three seconds. You can’t give them the time and the nose guard can affect that.”
– Steinarr the Kraze E. Viking, Crosby, Minn.
“I think the defensive end because if you can put the quarterback on their rear end, they can’t throw. I’ll go with a rushing end.”
– Cory Battles, Menomonie, Wis.
“That’s a pretty good question, but I still say you have to put pressure on the quarterback. I’d say defensive ends or the linebackers, whoever is rushing the quarterback is the guy.”
– Steve Eudey, Palastine, Texas
“I think it probably comes down to the safeties or the linebackers. They’ve got to line everybody up correctly, especially the middle linebacker. He’s the quarterback of the defense. If you’re not in the correct position it doesn’t matter how good the defense is.”
– Mike Wolf, Mankato, Minn.
“Cornerbacks or the defensive backs in general. Having a good secondary is a must today given that the NFL has become such a passing league.”
– Emily Mitchell, Crookston, Minn.
“Middle linebacker or safety. You have to be strong up the middle. Your middle linebacker is usually your number one tackler. And the safety has to guard both against the pass and then he also has to do some blitzing for you.”
– Grant Wrobleski, Waukegan, Ill.
“Linebacker. They have to be really versatile because they have to be able to defend both the run and the drop back and defend the pass.”
– Adam Schaufenbuel, St. Lucas, Iowa
“I played linebacker in high school and I don’t have a problem with them, but the cornerbacks in the NFL are so important because the receivers and the quarterbacks are so good the only way to slow them down is with the corners.”
– Nic Schaufenbuel, St. Lucas, Iowa
“You really need to have a stud in the secondary. Linebackers are great at stuffing things but if you don’t have a secondary to cover those receivers in the NFL today, being that it’s a passing game versus a running game, they’re going to tear you apart.”
– John Stavenau, Northfield, Minn.
“I believe it’s defensive line, especially the defensive end. You have to have the guy to put pressure on the quarterback so he doesn’t have as much time to pick apart your defense.”
– Mike Gemmel, Webster City, Iowa
“There is no question that given the way the rules are today and the way the game is officiated, you need a shutdown cornerback. So many teams in the NFL today have a big physical wide receiver like a Julio Jones or a Larry Fitzgerald Jr., and if you don’t have anyone to match up to their skills, you’d better be able to have an exceptional pass rush.”
– Aaron Dietz, Minneapolis, Minn.
“For me, it’s the outside linebackers. You look at how much they are asked to do in terms of tracking down running backs, coming up with pass coverage, and then many of them also get involved with various blitz packages.”
– Caleb Linder, Plymouth, Minn.