The Minnesota Vikings‘ defensive rehaul may be more important to the team’s success than the offense’s evolution this season.
Minnesota allowed 93 points in the final two minutes before halftime last season and an NFL-record (since the 1970 merger) 128 points inside the two-minute warning. The defense folding in crunch was tantamount to their struggles to secure convincing wins.
The Vikings added notable free agents to strengthen the league’s 24th ranked defense in scoring that also gave up the third-most yards in 2021. Pro Bowl edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, linebacker Jordan Hicks and slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan should provide improvements across their position groups.
However, stopping the run remains an utmost concern in Minnesota, and free-agent add Harrison Phillips may not be enough to remedy the Vikings’ 27th-ranked rush defense that allowed 130.7 rushing yards per game last season.
Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton recommended a move every NFL team should make and suggested Minnesota make a move for a five-time Pro Bowler Vikings fans are plenty familiar with.
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BR: Vikings Should Sign Ndamukong Suh
Suh terrorized the NFC North when he entered the league in 2010. He won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, tallying 10 sacks and a fumble recovery touchdown in 16 games. He went on to earn three All-Pro mentions and helped the Lions make a pair of playoff appearances before joining the Miami Dolphins in 2015.
Suh hasn’t made a Pro Bowl since 2016 with the Dolphins but has remained a healthy and steady veteran presence, most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the past three seasons, including their 2020 Super Bowl-winning season.
His services could especially be helpful in Minnesota that could see the three-time defending division champion Green Bay Packers shift toward a run-heavy approach, Bleacher Report’s Moton speculated.
“The Vikings should add Ndamukong Suh to their defensive line rotation. Over the last three campaigns, he recorded 72 pressures, 14.5 sacks and 23 tackles for loss with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” Moton wrote. “After trading star wideout Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, the Green Bay Packers may transition to a run-heavy attack that features Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. With Suh on the defensive front, the Vikings could counter that approach and generate consistent pocket pressure up the middle.”
Suh, 35, has never missed a game to injury in his 12-year career and has led the Buccaneers defensive line in snaps. Suh, playing on one-year contracts throughout his tenure in Tampa Bay, has yet to be re-signed by the Buccaneers, who appear armed to move on from Suh after signing longtime Chicago Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.
Last season, Suh tallied 6.0 sacks and was a vital piece of the Buccaneers defense that allowed the third-fewest rushing yards in the league in 2021 and ranked first in the category in 2019 and 2020.
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Vikings Need Stout Run Defenders Up Front
Switching a base 3-4 defense after decades of putting four defensive linemen on the line of scrimmage, Minnesota will have to stop the run with fewer bodies.
Defensive tackles take on that burden, especially nose tackles who are tasked to occupy two blockers to keep linebackers unchallenged and flying to the point of attack.
Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson are the only proven defensive tackles and could use additional support, like Suh.