A Tank Near the Line of Defense

While Tank Williams will be a safety in a Cover-2 scheme, the Vikings are looking forward to his hitting ability near the line of scrimmage. See what Williams and Brad Childress had to say about the new working relationship.

Defensive end DeQuincy Scott stepped up to the podium in the Winter Park fieldhouse with a white golf shirt wrinkled with creases from being freshly plucked from storage, kind of how the Vikings waited almost two weeks into free agency before plucking three players who filled out their last needs.

Thursday's signings of Scott, backup quarterback Mike McMahon and safety Tank Williams might end a successful two weeks of signings and restructurings that has the Vikings' draft options wide open, but Thursday was all about fitting their new pieces into positions of need.

The Thursday signing that figures to get the most playing time is Williams, who has started all 16 games in three of the four seasons he played with the Tennessee Titans. Known as a hitter, Williams believes he's a good fit for the Vikings, who, he says, have been pursuing him since the signing period opened.

"It's just one of those defenses where they're going to allow players to make plays. There aren't going to be a bunch of schemes and trying to fool people. We're just going to go out there and do what we do and allow the players to make plays. They're going to come up with some good schemes that build to each player's strengths. They're really focused on the mindset that we aren't going to beat ourselves. We're just going to put ourselves in the best position to go out there, play a sound football game and win. I like that approach. Keep it simple, make plays and win the game that way," Williams said.

Despite the Vikings' new scheme being labeled a Cover 2 defense, Williams compared his new role to the one Pro Bowl safety John Lynch played in Tampa Bay … under new Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin. Williams insists he's a good fit for this defense.

"Definitely. Coach Tomlin comes from Tampa Bay, and I definitely kept up with him just for the simple fact that I'm a big John Lynch fan, being from Stanford myself and seeing the things that he's able to do in this defense," Williams said. "And also, even before this whole process started, I talked to Ryan Nece, who's a linebacker down there with Tampa Bay, Ronnie Lott's son. He had nothing but great things to say about Coach Tomlin. He told me, ‘If you get a chance to go to Minnesota, that'd be a great place for you to flourish. It really fits your style.' God works in mysterious ways, and somehow I was brought here, talked to the coaches and I felt this was the best opportunity for me, and it all worked out."

Vikings coach Brad Childress is looking forward to seeing Williams play near the line of scrimmage and make tackles that make an impact.

"Those safeties spend a great deal of time playing down by the line of scrimmage, particularly if you find people that are trying to run the football on you. Tank Williams can hit you. He can fill up a hole; he can play by the line of scrimmage. Not that he can't play in a deep half, but somewhere you need strikers coming out of the back end," Childress said.

Williams said he had been talking with Seattle and Miami, but the Vikings' pursuit of him from the start of free agency and the defense they were going to play helped make Williams' decision.

"I felt that this was the best place for me to, one, get with a good team on the rise that's competing for a Super Bowl and, two, reach some of the personal goals I have set for myself," Williams said. "Coming off an ACL injury, I feel that I can definitely get back to the player I was before and then go beyond that, and I felt this gave me the best opportunity to do that along with some of the great players they already have here and the coaches and the system they have in place."

Williams tore his anterior cruciate ligament in November 2004 but came back and played at the start of the 2005 season. He will be playing a position where Willie Offord will be attempting to come back from an ACL injury in a similar time period.

But, with Williams expected to be the starter now, Offord won't have to rush back like Williams felt he needed to in 2005.

"It definitely took a toll on my play. I had surgery in November of 2004 and started every game last year, so I came back after eight months. It was one of those things where I was healthy enough to be back on the field, but I wasn't all the way back yet," he said. "I knew I had to be out there just because we were a young team and the guys depended on me. I felt it was in the team's best interests and my best interests to go out there and try to play through it and do whatever I could to help the team. Being able to focus on a whole offseason, not of rehabbing but focusing on football stuff and being another year removed from the injury, I feel the sky is the limit."

  • Despite having limited playing time at defensive tackle and outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, Scott will be used as a pass-rushing end on the right side of the defensive line. Fran Foley, Vikings vice president of player personnel who was in San Diego with Scott, said Scott is a natural rush end in a 4-3 defense.

    "For me, for the most part, I feel that my job is to get to the quarterback," Scott said. "I've been trying to do that for a while. I'm just happy for the opportunity to be able to do that at the defensive end position."

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