Vikings defense has a big say

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 9, 2012 - 6:49 AM

By welcoming players' input over what happens on the field, Alan Williams is seeing inspired play from his defensive unit.


The conversation came with little panic and less contention.

Following a 23-20 Week 2 loss in Indianapolis, a handful of veterans on the Vikings defense -- led by Jared Allen and Kevin Williams -- met with new defensive coordinator Alan Williams for an urgent "Let's get it together" meeting.

The players were frustrated, naturally.

Following crucial breakdowns late in the fourth quarter of their first two games, the defensive leaders were searching for solutions. But they were hardly on the verge of a mutiny.

Instead, what the two veteran defensive linemen wanted most in their discussion with Alan Williams was a forum to suggest tweaks and express their thoughts on why some breakdowns were occurring.

Williams wanted his players to understand the defensive calls being made and adhere to their respective roles within them. The players, in turn, wanted Williams to know some of the coverages and calls they were most comfortable with in certain situations.

Best of all, for both sides, the discussion was civil and productive, with Williams absorbing all suggestions with a listening ear.

Said defensive end Brian Robison: "It comes down to people not letting egos get in the way -- players not letting egos get in the way, coaches not letting egos get in the way. And [Alan's] done a great job of understanding what his players are comfortable with, trying to compromise and find a way that we can both get done what we need to get done.

"It's resulting in wins so far."

Following Sunday's 30-7 thrashing of the Titans, the Vikings will head to Washington this week at 4-1 and with their defensive swagger rising.

Since that meeting early in Week 3, the defense has turned its performance up a notch. The Vikings haven't trailed in their past three games. And in the first halves of their past three victories, they have given up a grand total of nine points.

On top of that, the Vikings have been dialed into their assignments.

In Week 3, the 49ers managed only 89 yards on the ground and totaled only 13 points, matching their second-lowest output in the past two seasons.

In Week 4, the Vikings made Lions receiver Calvin Johnson the focal point of their defensive game plan and held the All-Pro to five catches for 54 yards.

On Sunday, Titans running back Chris Johnson was the guy with the laser sights on him. And Johnson would have had more success breaking loose if he had been running through the sloppy mud of an overcrowded pig pen.

He finished Sunday with 15 carries and 24 yards, gaining more than 3 yards only twice.

Suddenly, a defense that was shredded consistently in 2011 is establishing itself as one of the league's best. The Vikings are sixth in the NFL in points allowed (15.8 per game) and second in yards given up per play (4.5)

Williams, the first-year coordinator, deserves praise for his role in the turnaround, rallying his troops while still being receptive to their feedback.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier recognized Williams' communication skills as a strength when he hired him in January.

"His ability to be able to listen to what the players have to say, and not always feel like he has to be right, I mean that's a good quality to have," Frazier said. "And he's done a good job of listening to some of their suggestions, and incorporating some of them, along with being able to say no when he needs to say no."

Having a coach with that approach, Robison said, only heightens the players' motivation.

"[With a lot of coaches], it's call guys together and tell them, 'Hey, this is what needs to be done,' instead of saying, 'Hey, what are you guys thinking?' " Robison said. "To hear that from him just kind of boosts your confidence a little bit. ... When you have that kind of confidence in a coach, knowing that he has that type of confidence in his players, it really makes you want to play better for him."


    Up next: 3:25 p.m. Sunday at Washington • FedEx Field • TV: Ch. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM


question of the day

Poll: Are you happy to see the Royals in the World Series?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters