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Wednesday (Vikings stopping the run and pass) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Vikings Updated: March 12, 2014 - 10:11 AM

The Vikings had a terrible defense last season, but they really had an average run defense. They ranked 16th in the NFL in total rushing yards allowed and 14th in yards per attempt (4.0).

The Giants, aided no doubt by massive nose tackle Linval Joseph -- whom the Vikings snatched away in free agency on Tuesday -- were No. 4 in the NFL in yards allowed per attempt ... at 3.8 per carry.

No doubt, having a stout rushing defense can create an identity. The Vikings of the mid-to-late 2000s were fantastic against the run to the point that teams just flat-out stopped trying. They allowed a paltry 2.8 yards per carry in 2006 and fewer than 1,000 yards rushing for the whole season. By the time the offense caught up to the defense in 2009, they were still quite good against the run, ranking second in the NFL in yards allowed.

By that token, we're all for the Joseph signing. If he can be a run stuffer in the mold of Pat Williams -- a lofty expectation, but let's think big -- it will no doubt help the overall product.

That said, this signing will not mean as much as maybe it would have a decade ago if the Vikings don't also address the secondary in a major way. The Vikings gave up 4,595 yards passing and 37 passing TDs last year. The league averages were nearly 1,000 yards and 12 TDs fewer than that.

Going from middle of the pack to above average as a run defense wouldn't be nearly as meaningful as taking one of the league's worst pass defenses and making it average.

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