Defensive Line Takes Precedence

How could the Vikings let Robert Griffith get away? Two Vikings coaches had the same answer for Viking Update when discussing the defense.

Wide receiver Cris Carter is well on his way to leaving Minnesota. Strong safety Robert Griffith has already left. Linebacker Kailee Wong is shopping around, and doing more than just window shopping. Same with cornerback Dale Carter. And tight end Byron Chamberlain remains unsigned.

Ever wonder what the Vikings' philosophy is this off-season, especially in the first wave of free agency? Although early in the off-season head coach Mike Tice and company were targeting to sign the aforementioned defenders, a revised thinking on defense is taking place.

According to two coaches VU talked with this week, the plan is really quite simple: The Vikings defense will be built from the defensive line on back. Why? The answer there is just as simple: To stop the run first.

Those words mix with the actions at the Vikings' Winter Park practice facility, as they brought in three defensive linemen yesterday to work out for the staff. After the workouts of Kenny Mixon, Lorenzo Bromell and Brandon Mitchell, the coaches said they are interested in all three, with Mixon being at the top of the list.

Defensive ends are also taking priority over defensive tackles because of the lack of quality depth at defensive end in free agency and the draft.

But the overall philosophy of the defensive coaches is to build a quality defensive line first to stop the running game, which explains the team's willingness to not become heavily involved in the bidding for Griffith. In fact, another source close to Griffith told VU a week before free agency that the Vikings hadn't even made an offer to Griffith. That could coincide with the strategy to build up the defensive line first.

It also explains why the team hasn't pushed hard in the Dale Carter negotiations. Between Carter and Wong, it appears the team could be more interested in Wong because he has more to do with consistently stopping the run from his middle linebacker position than Carter does from cornerback.

The stop-the-run philosophy explains a lot of the Vikings' recent actions.

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