NGSC Sports

Griffen Shines in Loss to Bills


In Sunday’s heartbreaking loss to the Buffalo Bills, The Minnesota Vikings started to see some much needed improvement from their front seven. The defensive line was relentless combining for all of the team’s sacks with six, three coming from Everson Griffen. Griffen finally showed that he was worth the $42.5 million that the Vikings have invested in him over the next five years. However, the improved play of the front seven wasn’t enough as the Bills managed to pull off the comeback with a touchdown pass to rising star, rookie Sammy Watkins with just seconds remaining. Now, lets go a little deeper and see just why the defensive front seven played so well Sunday. After watching the tape, Coach Edwards and Coach Zimmer were more aggressive in the front seven this weekend. They showed a lot of traditional 4-3 looks with the safeties both back showing a two high look, making the guys in the front seven have the sole responsibility to create havoc for the offensive line. However, there were at times that the Viking defense got away with being a little over zealous against some particular formations.  

As you can see on this third down play by Buffalo, the Vikings got a little too worried about the screen to the fullback. However, if Orton wasn’t jittery and anxious to get rid of the ball, he would have noticed his running back swinging to the flat to the left of the formation with not a single Vikings defender around for 10 yards. However the real reason I wanted to look at this play was not to point out the potential costly mistake the Vikings could have had but the tremendous effort of star rookie Anthony Barr. Barr (the Red Arrow) did a great job of not getting caught in the wash of the oncoming offensive lineman to play over the top of the block, resulting in a four yard loss. The rookie has done a great job this season of breaking his college mold of just being a pass rusher, showing natural ability to play in space as the linebacker is second on the team in tackles with 68.


As I mentioned before, Everson Griffen had himself a coming out party this past Sunday. The five year vet out of Southern Cal had himself 8 tackles and had 3 of the Vikings 6 sacks, not only his career best but his best output since week one against the Rams where he accounted for 2 sacks in a Vikings win. On this Redzone opportunity, the Vikings showed a true 4-3 scheme to go against the spread look of Bills. At the snap, the two interior defensive lineman run a “ToN” line stunt, which basically means that the three technique is to penetrate the A gap while the Nose is to show a presence before looping. Griffen (Far left) did a great job of not taking the risk of going inside and instead utilizes a bull rush to put the left tackle on skates right into the lap of Orton. Orton, sensing the pocket is breaking interiorly, steps and tries to flush to the left of the formation. Griffen, realizing that he has passed the depth of the climbing quarterback, hits a quick spin to get back up field right into a flushing Orton hitting him for a loss and tallying his first sack of the afternoon.


By now Vikings fans have probably realized what is coming from the defense on third downs and Sunday Coach Zimmer was at it again. On third down this season, the Vikings have continually showed “Odd” ( or two 3 techs) alignment from their front four with double A gap pressure by having two linebackers show “Sugar” at the line of scrimmage. However, Zimmer threw a wrinkle into things. At the start of the cadence and Orton’s pre snap adjustments, the Vikings shift to a traditional 4-3 within the front seven look by having the two A gap linebackers drop back to their normal alignment allowing boundary three technique slide down to be a shade .


At the snap, Griffen again does a great job in putting the left tackle on skates and pushing the tackle right into Orton’s lap. The big reason as to why this work is not because of the pre snap shift by Minnesota although that might have a little something to do with it but because the two interior again do a good job of exploding off the snap, creating penetration within the interior and staying in their rush lanes which does not allow Orton to climb in the pocket and helps Griffen nab his second sack.


On his third sack of the afternoon, Griffen displays his supreme athletic ability. In this pressure , the Vikings showed the same exact scheme as the one above, only this time they kept the double A gap rushers. At the snap, both Barr and Greenway bail into their drops, Barr dropping straight back and Greenway running at a 45 to cover the tight end. The defensive line rushes their prospective gaps in their Odd front with one twist which in many eyes is a little bit of a gamble. Floyd, the “field” three technique explodes off the line to penetrate the B gap, making the guard turn his shoulders to play the pressure and Griffen gives a quick two step jab upfield and loops into a wide open B gap and a defenseless Kyle Orton.

It was certainly a bright spot in a tough loss to see the front seven return to the dominating form you saw earlier in the season. Coach Zimmer and Coach Edwards have this defense pointing in the right direction.

The Vikings will have another shortened week due to having to fly down to play the Bucs on Sunday. Again, this will be a game that the Vikings front seven can control the outcome of the game as the Tampa Bay offense has been a very hot and cold team. If Griffen and the rest of the Vikings defensive lineman can keep this hot streak alive when it comes to applying pressure to the quarterback, the Vikings could be coming back home with a win.

Stay tune for next week’s Vikings Review as I will take a look at the performance of Cordarrelle Patterson and the Vikings receiving corps.



Author Profile

Joshua Zimmer
Josh is the Big Ten analyst for NGSC Sports. With his extensive knowledge of the game, he will be keeping an eye on some of the conference's top NFL Draft prospects while also serving as the Gophers analyst. He also covers the NHL.

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