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VikeManDan

Purple Haze - State of the Purple Pass Rush

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Posted (edited)

With our starting 4 set at Griffen-Richardson-Jospeh-Hunter where do these rotational pieces fit in?

DE - Brian Robison (12)
DE - Stephen Weatherly (3)
DE - Tashawn Bower (2)
DE - Ifeadi Odenigbo (1)
DE - Ade Aruna (R)

*LB/Other - Hercules Mata'afa (R)

Not sure if any one currently on the roster unseats J. Johnson and J. Holmes as the primary backups/rotational pieces at NT and UT. 

In terms of experience this is a pretty underwhelming group. Zimmer has come out and stated that he needs to do a better job of rotating guys along the D-Line. It was quite clear our pass rush faded towards the end of the season, especially in the playoffs. 

I just want to hear your thoughts on the pass rush potential from the front 4. 

 

Edited by VikeManDan
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We should add Hercules to this as well until we get a definite indication of how the Vikings want to use him.

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Posted (edited)

DL depth is a concern for me. It wasn't adequately addressed. I don't have much faith in the DEs being impact players. Robison is decent but the upside isn't there as an edge rusher. 

I don't see a true backup NT to replace Stephen. Johnson looks like an UT to me.

the starters can't get hurt or the defense will be exposed. Actually, we might be okay if Johnson has to fill in for Richardson.

Edited by vikingsrule

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2 hours ago, battle2heaven said:

We should add Hercules to this as well until we get a definite indication of how the Vikings want to use him.

I added him even though he is listed as an LB, it is hard to ignore the impact he had on the line in college. 

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24 minutes ago, vikingsrule said:

DL depth is a concern for me.

Which is the main reason I created the topic. Bower has shown flashes so there may be some hope for him. Griffen and Hunter REALLY slowed down towards the end of the season. 

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I don't see DL Depth as a concern. Proven depth, it may not be, but there's talent for sure.

Immediate position backups:

DE: Tashaun Bower + Ade Aruna
I'm going with these two because Bower showed last year that he could definitely play and be a valuable backup.  Aruna is a great athlete, who graded out much higher last year before he was reduced down in an odd man front this year. Throw Robison in if you'd wish, but he's definitely on the downslope

UT: Jalyn Holmes + Hercules Mata'afa
Intriguing prospects that each bring their own assets to the table. Holmes has the length and power that you like to see out of the position and the frame to add on some weight and get near 300 pounds. Showed more promise as an interior disruptive player than as an edge player. Mata'afa is the wild card; he's an aggressive pass rusher with a knack for finding the QB rushing from either the 1 or 3T spots

NT: Jaleel Johsnon
Well regarded player in his draft year, now going into year two and likely being asked to focus solely on one position.  Former champion wrestler that displays good athleticism at the position.

-----

Given what we got out of Robison last year, there's no reason the think that Bower or Aruna couldn't have the same level of production. Shamar Stephen was JAG who is easily replaceable, and Tom Johnson wasn't even really depth, he was a starter.  Replace Robison with one of, or both, Aruna and Bower. Replace Stephen with Johnson, Holmes, and Mata'afa.  We really only had three defensive tackles active for games last year with Joseph, Johnson, and Stephen and only 3 DE's saw meaningful time with Griffen, Hunter, and Robison.

Depth this year, compared to last year, is much better.

-----

Also, @vikingsrule, you owe me a beer or something for Shamar's contract being about half of what you said he'd get ;)

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11 minutes ago, VikeManDan said:

Griffen and Hunter REALLY slowed down towards the end of the season. 

Weeks 1-8 (before the bye):

  • Griffen 10 sacks, 35 total pressures, PRP 10.5% (14th)
  • Hunter 3 sacks, 31 total pressure, PRP 9.7% (20th)

Weeks 10-17 (after the bye):

  • Griffen 2 sacks, 25 total pressures, PRP 9.5% (17th)
  • Hunter 5 sacks, 30 total pressures, PRP 10.3% (14th)

So Griffen slowed down, while Hunter was a little better on a snap-to-snap basis later in the year.

I think the foot injury is what slowed Griffen down, more than overusage. He got hurt at the end of the Browns game, which was his 8th straight game with at least one sack. After that, he had only 2 more games with sacks all year -- 2 in the Thanksgiving Lions game and 1 in the playoffs vs the Saints. Having said that, he continued to get good PFF scores in the 2nd half of the year, with his only negative graded games coming against very good LTs on the Rams and Packers. 

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2 minutes ago, Krauser said:

I think the foot injury is what slowed Griffen down, more than overusage.

I did forget about the injury mid-season, thanks for pointing that out. I still hope that some of those guys listed can take some snaps away from Griffen and Hunter, we'll see if Zimmer "walks the walk" with that quote about rotating more guys in.

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Zimmer was pretty explicit that he wants a DL rotation like the Eagles last year. 

Here's an 8-man DL rotation, position by position, with the Eagles DL in the playoffs compared to the Vikings DL in the playoffs (2 games each excluding Super Bowl) in those roles:

Starting Left DE: 

  • Eagles: Brandon Graham. 109 snaps, +3.7, 0 sacks, 3 hits, 8 hurries, 2 stops.
  • Vikings: Danielle Hunter. 100 snaps, +4.4, 1 sack, 1 hit, 5 hurries, 6 stops
  • Vikings 2018: Hunter

Starting Right DE: 

  • Eagles: Vinny Curry. 83 snaps, +4.0, 0 sacks, 4 hits, 7 hurries, 2 stops
  • Vikings: Everson Griffen. 119 snaps, -1.8, 1 sack, 1 hit, 3 hurries, 1 stop
  • Vikings 2018: Griffen

Backup LDE:

  • Eagles: Chris Long. 51 snaps, +6.6, 0 sacks, 4 hits, 5 hurries, 2 stops
  • Vikings: Brian Robison. 79 snaps, -2.1, 0 sacks, 0 hits, 2 hurries, 2 stops
  • Vikings 2018: ??

Backup RDE: 

  • Eagles: Derek Barnett. 48 snaps. -0.2, 1 sack, 1 hit, 2 hurries, 1 stop
  • Vikings: Stephen Weatherly. 2 snaps (Eagles game only). -1.7, 0 sacks, 0 hits, 0 hurries, 0 stops
  • Vikings 2018: ??

DEs (total): 

  • Eagles: 291 snaps. +14.1, 1 sack, 12 hits, 22 hurries, 7 stops
  • Vikings: 300 snaps. -1.2, 2 sacks, 1 hit, 10 hurries, 9 stops

...

Starting DT (3-tech):

  • Eagles: Fletcher Cox. 109 snaps, +8.5, 1 sack, 3 hits, 6 hurries, 8 stops
  • Vikings: Tom Johnson. 112 snaps, -2.1, 0 sacks, 0 hits, 2 hurries, 2 stops
  • Vikings 2018: Sheldon Richardson

Starting DT (NT): 

  • Eagles: Tim Jernigan. 55 snaps. -1.0, 0 sacks, 0 hits, 0 hurries, 0 stops
  • Vikings: Linval Joseph. 96 snaps. +8.0, 0 sacks, 2 hits, 2 hurries, 6 stops
  • Vikings 2018: Joseph

Backup DT (either):

  • Eagles: Beau Allen. 50 snaps. +1.2, 0 sacks, 1 hit, 4 hurries, 0 stops
  • Vikings (vs Saints): Shamar Stephen. 4 snaps. -0.5, 0 sacks, 0 hits, 0 hurries, 0 stops
  • Vikings (vs Eagles): Jaleel Johnson. 19 snaps. +0.6, 0 sacks, 0 hits, 0 hurries, 1 stop
  • Vikings 2018: Jaleel Johnson

4th DT: 

  • Eagles (garbage time vs Vikings): Destiny Vaeao, 11 snaps, -0.6, 0 sacks, 0 hits, 0 hurries, 0 stops
  • Vikings: none
  • Vikings 2018: ??

DTs (total): 

  • Eagles: 225 snaps, +8.1, 1 sack, 4 hits, 10 hurries, 8 stops
  • Vikings 231 snaps, +6.0, 0 sacks, 2 hits, 4 hurries, 9 stops

...

Analysis: 

  • Eagles played a 7 man rotation, not 8 -- Vaeao was only used in garbage time
  • DTs were comparable in run defense but the Eagles had much better pass rush from Cox than anyone in purple. Tom Johnson was the worst graded DT
  • Eagles DEs were much more effective in producing pressure. Hunter was the only Vikings DE who produced, Griffen was shut down. Chris Long was dominant as a backup, while Robison added nothing. Barnett only had the one big play but it was a killer. Somehow Weatherly got a terrible grade from playing 2 plays

Going forward: 

  • Griffen added little in the playoffs but it's hard not to think he'll do better next time. Part of the solution, obviously
  • Hunter is very good
  • Robison is washed up, Weatherly added nothing. Both need to be replaced IMO
  • Johnson needed to be upgraded. Richardson should be very good. 
  • Joseph is a stud. 
  • Jaleel Johnson already might be an upgrade from Shamar Stephen
  • Not clear we need a 4th DT or 5th DE (8th DL in total). The Eagles didn't. 

For a 7 man rotation (4 DE plus 3 DTs), there are 2 spots open, both backup DE positions. 

I'd like to see: 

Tashawn Bower as the main backup DE. He's a very good edge rusher. He was great against the run in preseason, aside from a couple of plays where he jumped upfield and lost contain. I think he can be better than Robison right now, and I'd like to see him get Robison's snaps. 

Jalyn Holmes as a power base DE (run downs) and nickel DT pass rusher. He's got great size and some explosion and should be able to contain against the run better than Weatherly. 

If they need an 8th DL, they could play Aruna or Odenigbo as a DE, or Mata'afa as a 3-tech pass rusher in nickel. But I don't think they really need 8, they just need 7 who are actually good.

 

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Robison added nothing, & carries a high cap number. Really think he needs to be let go. Weatherly has added nothing & I see no real reason for him on the 53 at the moment.

Bower did some good things so I'd like to see him get some time at backup & both Mata'afa + Aruna could be options. I'm not expecting to much from Odenigbo but he is am option too.

We'll have beast DTs with Linval & Richardson.... And the backups should be better with Jaleel & Holmes.

Bower \ Aruna need to step up make Robison expendable.

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Ugh, that reminder of how the Vikings got dominated in the trenches was unpleasant. The domination was thorough. Was the reason for the lopsided grades more about the respective defensive lines or the offensive lines that they were playing against. It was some of both IMO. It was easier for the Eagles defensive linemen to shine against our offensive line than it was for our defensive linemen to produce.

It would be great if the team has an upgrade for Robison. If the team could trade him it would save them from paying the $1.25M of his salary that is guaranteed. Otherwise, cutting him isn't terrible. They can hope that someone signs him. Even if that is at veteran minimum of just over $1M most of the guaranteed salary will be offset. However, if the team cuts him he might just retire since he would essentially be playing for free if nobody is willing to pay him more than $1.25M.

 

 

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Griffen/Richardson/Joseph/Hunter
Bower/Holmes/Johnson/Aruna

Robison and Hercules in the mix

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15 hours ago, Cearbhall said:

Ugh, that reminder of how the Vikings got dominated in the trenches was unpleasant. The domination was thorough. Was the reason for the lopsided grades more about the respective defensive lines or the offensive lines that they were playing against. It was some of both IMO. It was easier for the Eagles defensive linemen to shine against our offensive line than it was for our defensive linemen to produce.

Those numbers are from both playoff games added together (Saints, Eagles for the Vikings DL, Falcons, Vikings for the Eagles DL). 

Eagles DL scored very well against the Falcons too, and their OL is quite a bit better than the Vikings. So it's not just about quality of opposition. 

Tom Johnson struggled in both games, against some very good guards, but Linval produced well against similar quality. Griffen got shut down nearly completely in the playoffs, which was disappointing since the Eagles were using their backup LT, Vaitai. It's notable that Hunter had 2 very good games against 2 very good RTs, Ramczyk and Lane Johnson. 

15 hours ago, Klomp said:

Griffen/Richardson/Joseph/Hunter
Bower/Holmes/Johnson/Aruna

Robison and Hercules in the mix

They usually only keep 8-9 DL, and dress 7 for games. Maybe they'll do 8 if Zimmer wants that depth on game day.

I don't think they'll keep Robison and make him a game day inactive -- only way he makes the roster is if he's part of the DE rotation. I think he's basically done, but maybe they keep 5 DEs, make Aruna the usual inactive, and play Robison as either DE3 or DE4.

Ideally, Bower is ready to contribute and gets more snaps as the DE3, with Robison used only sparingly at DE. He could contribute as a nickel pass rusher unless Holmes (or Mata'afa?) can beat him out in that role. 

Base DL: Griffen/Richardson/Joseph/Hunter

Regular rotation on base downs: Bower (either side), Johnson (either DT position)

Nickel: Griffen/Robison (or Holmes)/Richardson/Hunter

Occasional use as depth, garbage time etc: Robison at DE, Holmes at DT

 

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Robison tweets he's back for one more year: 

Counting Robison as the 5th DL and Jaleel Johnson as the 6th, looks like there are ~3 spots open for Weatherly, Bower, Odenigbo, Aruna, Holmes, Bradley and Mata'afa. 

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