There was a point in the middle of the season when the Vikings’ run defense seemed totally out of sorts. In Weeks 6-9, the Vikings surrendered 663 rushing yards, allowing four opposing players – Washington’s Robert Griffin III, Arizona’s LaRod Stephens-Howling, Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch – to top 100 yards. But rather than panic and make dramatic system or personnel changes, the Vikings instead dialed back in to the basics with an insistence that their defense would work well when the parts were in sync. In the past six games, the Vikings have allowed an average of 94 rushing yards per game and are coming off an effort Sunday in Houston in which they surrendered a season-low 34 yards.
Defensive end Jared Allen said the key in shoring up the run defense was simplifying things.
“Guys took the onus upon themselves to make plays when plays were there,” Allen said. “And nobody got out of body. … Sometimes you can’t over-think yourself in this league. You’ve just got to dumb it down and go to work. And let a man whoop a man and get after it.”
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams believes a focus on fundamentals and the steadiness of head coach Leslie Frazier were key in patching up the run defense.
“Team defense and team chemistry is not built overnight,” Williams said. “It takes a while. Luckily we have a head coach who believes in the system, he believes in being patient, he believes in our guys and believes in the coaches. And he’s allowed us to jell as a team and not just say, ‘Ya know what? A game or two we haven’t played up to our expectations. So let’s scrap it and do something else.’”