The grooming period for the Vikings secondary is over if you ask veteran Harrison Smith.
The All-Pro safety who has anchored the secondary and its introduction of an entirely new cornerbacks group has seen what his unit has to offer this season and is convinced they are ready and capable of competing.
Despite the breakdown that led the Seahawks securing a comeback win on Sunday Night Football a week ago, Smith said in his weekly press conference on Friday that he saw plenty of encouraging signs and that they do not need to wait for more development to align.
Here’s what he said:
The thing is there’s a ton of positives. That, to me, is what you focus on. You focus on the positives. Guys play with confidence. We play with each other where we want to go out there. No matter what the situation is, whether we’ve got them backed up or they’re in the red zone or whatever, you want to be out there on the field because you’re going to make a difference.
And I think that attitude and that mindset, although it wasn’t enough against Seattle, a lot of the good things that we did we need to carry those over and then ultimately finish. The more you want to harp on is that we can do that right now. We don’t have to wait, we don’t have to say OK, we’ll get a couple more reps or a couple more games. We can do that today and we can do it tomorrow, and we can keep doing that. That mindset, I think is the most important thing.
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‘You’re Going to Get Beat Sometimes. That’s How It Is’
Smith wasn’t hesitant to instill some tough love into the secondary this week after their loss to the Seahawks.
He had a strong reaction to rookie Cameron Dantzler on Wilson’s fourth-down conversion TD to D.K. Metcalf as Dantzler let Metcalf run a crossing route uncovered into a soft spot in the team’s zone coverage. He acknowledged that’s “how it is” in today’s NFL.
“You’re going to get beat sometimes. That’s how it is, especially the life of a defensive player these days. You’re going to get beat,” Smith said. “Go to the next play, win the next play and don’t let it affect your confidence, your belief in the team, just keep doing your thing. That’s really the only way that you can play.”
Vikings Hold Russell Wilson to Worst Performance This Season
While the Vikings take no moral victories in last Sunday’s dramatic loss, the defense, with the help of the game script playing in the Vikings favor, held Wilson to several season-low metrics last Sunday in pass completion percentage (62.5), passer rating (100.7) and yards per pass attempt (6.8).
Wilson targeted Dantzler in coverage 11 times and completed six passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Third-year veteran Mike Hughes, who made his first start in two weeks after dealing with a neck injury, gave up three catches for 37 yards on six targets, while first-round rookie Jeff Gladney gave up a catch for 13 yards on the single pass thrown his way.
Gladney showed mettle against the Seahawks as the 5-foot-10, the 191-pound freshman did not back down in a shoving match with Metcalf, a 6-foot-4, the 229-pound juggernaut of a wideout who’s earning recognition as the next Megatron.
Jeff Gladney (5-10, 191)
DK Metcalf (6-4, 229) pic.twitter.com/1CYdebs98t
— Sean Borman (@SeanBormanNFL) October 12, 2020
Zimmer was impressed by Gladney’s toughness as he’s shown significant progression throughout his first five games after he was throttled early in the season coming off meniscus surgery.
“He’s a tough kid,” Zimmer said. “He’s got a lot on his plate, playing inside and outside, and I think he’s feeling more comfortable each and every week. He’s been getting a lot of playing time, and (defensive backs coach) Daronte Jones is doing a good job with these young kids.”
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.