The Vikings defense got an early test against one of the NFL’s best dual threats, Russell Wilson, in Thursday night’s 18-11 preseason victory in Seattle.
Remember last year’s NFC wild-card playoff game when Wilson’s running ability turned a botched snap into a 35-yard gain to help set up Seattle’s first touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter? How could you forget?
Wilson’s mobility, however, wasn’t an issue for the Vikings Thursday during the two quarters he played. The defense sacked Wilson four times throughout the first half with contributions from Joseph Linval, Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr and Andrew Sendejo. The Vikings finished the game with six sacks led by Justin Trattou’s 1.5 sacks.
The aggressive effort was encouraging to head coach Mike Zimmer with the Vikings regular-season schedule kicking off against three of the league’s best mobile quarterbacks in Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Carolina’s Cam Newton.
Zimmer said "Most of the time what happens is you start peeking and you quit rushing. … So instead of maintaining and trying to beat the guy you’re on, you’re looking around for the quarterback and then you don’t rush.”
That wasn’t a problem for the Vikings against Wilson, but the real tests will start once the regular-season rolls around.
The first test will be Mariota when the Vikings travel to Tennessee on Sept. 11 for the season opener. The second-year quarterback was one of the best dual-threat college quarterbacks in nation at Oregon, and during his rookie NFL season he had 34 rushes for 252 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 2,818 passing yards and 19 touchdowns.
The Week 2 test for the Vikings home opener is Rodgers. The Packers veteran quarterback finished the 2015 regular-season with 58 rushes, 344 yards, one rushing touchdown, and 3,821 passing yards and 31 touchdowns.
Newton, the league’s reigning MVP, will be the Vikings’ problem during Week 3. He had 132 rushes for 636 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns, while throwing for 3,837 passing yards and 35 touchdowns in 2015.
NFL Network analyst and former pro quarterback David Carr ranked each of these quarterbacks in his Top 10 mobile QBs. Wilson was No. 1, Newton No. 2, Rodgers No. 3 and Mariota No. 7.
Two other quarterbacks on Carr’s Top 10 mobile list that the Vikings will face later this season are No. 9 Andrew Luck and No. 10 Blake Bortles. The Vikings travel to Jacksonville to face Bortles and the Jaguars in mid-December in Week 13, and host Luck and Indianapolis Week 14.
Staff writer Matt Vensel contributed to this report from Seattle.