Opportunity Knocked For Vikings DBs

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 24, 2009 – 4:55 pm

Throughout the offseason and training camp, one position battle that was constantly analyzed was the nickel back/3rd corner position. The Vikings drafted Asher Allen in the 3rd round, signed Karl Paymah during free agency and brought veteran Benny Sapp back after he played well in 2008.

Prevailing thought was that one of those 3 players would win the job and would be the beneficiary of the vast majority of the playing time alongside starters Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield, relegating the other 2 players to either inactive duty and/or primarily special teams responsibility.

Well, as is often the case with prevailing thought, it turned out to be all wrong. Sapp, by all appearances, “won” that preseason position battle, but he hasn’t been the only member of that trio to contribute to the Vikings this season.

When Winfield went down with a foot injury in Week 6, the trio of DBs stepped in immediately and the Vikings defense actually hasn’t lost a step. Since Week 6, the Vikings rushing defense has climbed from 9th to 3rd, the passing defense has gone from 24th to 21st and the overall defense has gone from 18th to 12th. Perhaps most importantly, the Vikings scoring defense has remained #2 in the NFL.

Depth in the secondary has been key for the Vikings, clearly. Since Winfield’s injury, the trio of Allen, Paymah and Sapp have done more than just weather the storm.

“I think ‘weather’ means that you are just holding on, surviving,” Childress said on Monday. “I think that they have really embraced it. I think that it’s the old ‘opportunity knocks’ and I have seen those guys grab hold of it and really get a chance to compete.”

Childress said he’s noticed good practice habits out of the Vikings reserve DBs and those habits, along with the players’ versatility, have allowed them to fill in more-than-capably for Winfield, who was a Pro Bowler last year.

Allen and Sapp can play both the outside corner position and nickel back. Paymah might be more of an outside corner player, but he, along with Allen and Paymah, can also contribute on special teams.

In addition to their skills, positive practice habits and versatility, Childress also said their attitude has been important to their ability to contribute this season.

“Boy, you see it day in and day out,” Childress commented. “I think they just embraced it. Where Asher used to be sitting in my office, he used to be one of those eight guys (that was inactive on game day). He was going to be a guy that was down and he was down about being down, but I just promised him that somewhere along the line opportunity is going to knock.

“If you feel like you are getting in the co-pilot seat, if you feel like you are kind of riding along and you don’t keep that mental edge, you are going to snooze at the wrong time and somebody is going to say ‘you’re in.’ I think those guys have done a really good job of attacking that thing.”

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Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “Opportunity Knocked For Vikings DBs”

  1. By Alvike on Nov 24, 2009 | Reply

    I think Asher has played exceptionally well in his limited playing time. With our two base defense corners set, I wonder if we could move Asher to safety. He continually makes plays, and tackles well. Two things that are safeties are struggling with. The Bills moved a CB, Jarius Byrd, to safety, and look how well that’s working for them.

  2. By Mitch Rosa on Nov 24, 2009 | Reply

    I think that the vkings secondary has definitely improved. One particular player i would like to see on the field is Colt Anderson because the safetys could use some help.

  3. By Chaz on Nov 24, 2009 | Reply

    The Vikings drafted Asher hoping that when Winfield retires they will have a three year vet that is ready to step into the same role he had. i don’t think they are looking to replace a safety.

  4. By Chaz on Nov 24, 2009 | Reply

    Although it may be something they look into, the stat of giving up the most big plays in the NFL is a problem.

  5. By 4Farve on Nov 25, 2009 | Reply

    Vikings’ secondary defense really, really need to improve more than they have so far if they even hope to go deep into playoffs. I hope that Chilly and all the defensive coaches really take note and acknowlege that..they have one of the least defensive interceptions in the league…it’ll be great if they play as good as thier pass rush defense or as good as the Saints’ secondary, but as of now , they’re still below par. Granted there are some improvements but I don’t think Chilly should be satisfied yet at this level. To win NFC championship, the secondary pass defense MUST take it up a few more levels. As of now, they don’t stand a chance against QB like Brady, Manning , Brees, Warner, etc except pray that their pass rush guys make the play.

  6. By Viking Fan from Afar (West) on Nov 25, 2009 | Reply

    One big reason that the pass defense has hung in there this year is the ferocious pass rush. The Vikings lead the NFL in sacks with 36, but are second-to-last in interceptions with 7.

    The secondary play, and linebacker pass coverage need to improve.

    From safeties Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson, I’m looking for one pass defensed each this game, and one interception between the two of them. Number of tackles always depends on the number of opportunities to make them. I’m looking for both safeties to get at least one assist on a tackle, plus stopping guys every time they have an opportunity to do so. Even if it’s just getting an assist and letting a teammate get the tackle. It’s a team sport and it will take a team effort to stop Cutler and the Bears.

    The Bears wide receivers have playmaking ability. Knox, Hester, Earl Bennett, Greg Olsen, and the rest all have to be dealt with.

    The Bears are in desperation mode and the Vikings can make a statement by out-competing them and getting the win.

  7. By vikingfan1955 on Nov 26, 2009 | Reply

    I’m very proud of the secondary this yr,no we aren’t the best but with winfield out they have not let us down and they have been thrown at a lot.I think the return of winfield will only kake them stronger.

  8. By 4Farve on Nov 27, 2009 | Reply

    One big question Vikings coaches need to ask themselves, the way their secondary is playing now or ‘improved’—Can they hold the Saints offense???
    Can they slow or stop Brees and his air attacks? That’s a very important question if they’re inspired to go to the Superbowl and win. The way it is now, I don’t see Brees worried about our secondary coverage, moreover, Saints’ powerful secondary could really limit Vikings air attack.

  9. By purple08 on Nov 28, 2009 | Reply

    gee you really think having Winfield back will only make them stronger? that’s some pretty powerful insight. I think the Aint’s should worry about the Vikings offense… our pass rush is relentless and will get to Brees eventually. We just need to play ball control and keep putting up points. The team that can run the ball more effectively will win that match up.

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