Can Vikings Success vs. #1 WRs Continue This Week?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 22, 2011 – 6:10 am

The Vikings pass defense has been criticized more than any other part of the team recently. It can be debated if that level of criticism is fair. On one hand, the Vikings have allowed 578 passing yards and 3 TD passes in two games. On the other hand, the Vikings ranked 10th in pass defense last year and this year they have as many INTs as TDs allowed this season.

What can’t be disputed, though, is the Vikings ability to take out their opponent’s #1 WR. The Vikings allowed just 1 catch for -4 yards to Mike Williams last week and in Week 1 San Diego’s Vincent Jackson was good for just 2 receptions for 31 yards. If you go back through the last 6 games of 2010 – when Leslie Frazier was named interim head coach and Fred Pagac was the defensive coordinator – and throw in the first two games of this season, #1 WRs are averaging just 3 receptions for 44 yards against the Vikings. In those 8 contests, opposing #1 WRs have just 1 TD reception (Johnny Knox of the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium last December).

Week 2 – Mike Williams (Tampa Bay): 1 reception, -4 yards, 0 TDs
Week 1 – Vincent Jackson (San Diego): 2 receptions, 31 yards, 0 TDs
Week 17 – Calvin Johnson: Did Not Play
Week 16 – DeSean Jackson: 2 receptions, 32 yards, 0 TDs
Week 15 – Johnny Knox: 2 receptions, 78 yards, 1 TD
Week 14 – Hakeem Nicks: 7 receptions, 96 yards, 0 TDs
Week 13 – Stevie Johnson: 2 receptions, 36 yards, 0 TDs
Week 12 – Santana Moss: 5 receptions, 40 yards, 0 TDs

This angle is relevant now because the Vikings face perhaps the NFL’s most talented WR this week in Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. In fact, Johnson has more TD receptions (33) than any other NFL WR since he was selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2007 draft.

“He’s still a great player, nothing has changed in that regard,” Frazier said on Wednesday. “Their quarterback is playing well, but Calvin Johnson is a big-time wide receiver; someone you have to always be aware of when he’s on the field.”

The last time the Vikings and Lions played – Week 17 of last season – Johnson did not suit up. Although he’s dealing with an ankle injury this week and did not practice on Wednesday, there’s no question he’ll be in the lineup on Sunday. The only question now is, can the Vikings success vs. opposing #1 WRs continue?

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