Sunday’s NFC North showdown at Mall of America Field features a pair of powerful defensive lines. The Vikings feature the Williams Wall and pass-rushing DEs Jared Allen and Ray Edwards, of course. The Lions acquired 3 new starters along the defensive line this past offseason in #2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams to go along with 3-year veteran Cliff Avril.
While it’s difficult to distinguish which parts of each defensive line are the most valuable, what’s clear to see is how valuable each team’s top DE is to the defense. The Vikings acquired Allen before the 2008 season and the 3-time All-Pro has responded with consecutive 14.-sack seasons. Vanden Bosch was with the Tennessee Titans for 5 seasons prior to signing in Detroit as a free agent this past offseason and he’s already been a difference maker, with 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks in his first 2 games.
Allen’s 14.5 sacks in 2009 helped the Vikings lead the league in that category with 48. But a pass-rushing DE as productive and dominant as Allen does more than just help a team tally sacks. It impacts the overall pass defense and the way coordinators are able to scheme for opposing offenses.
“I know in our case, Jared has made a tremendous difference from a pass rush standpoint and the way I call games as well,” Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “Before he arrived we were a lot more pressure (blitzing) and giving people looks. Once he arrived we were able to stay with our four-man front a little bit more and count on our four guys to rush, which helped improve our pass defense.
“It just gives you a luxury you don’t have if you don’t have a Jared Allen, one of the premier pass rushers in the National Football League. He’s made my job a lot easier and he’s made our defense better. It’s a luxury when you have a guy like that.”
Although it’s been just 2 games, it looks as if Vanden Bosch will have a similar impact on the Lions defensive line and overall defense. Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress described Vanden Bosch as a “Tasmanian Devil” earlier in the week and Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz said the improvement in his defensive line starts with Suh and Vanden Bosch; Schwartz and Vanden Bosch spent time together in Tennessee when Schwartz was the defensive coordinator there.
Schwartz points to the Vikings defensive line as a model for what the Lions are trying to accomplish.
“Go out and get a player like Jared Allen, draft a player like Kevin Williams, sign a player like Pat Williams, develop a player like Ray Edwards,” he said. “They don’t have to blitz to get pressure on the quarterback. They don’t have to get in an eight-man front to stop the run. That’s a very comforting feeling for a head coach and a defensive coordinator for that to be the case. We’re trying to build the same way.”
Tags: Jared Allen, Leslie Frazier
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 36 Comments »