Every week following the Access Vikings Gameday Preview podcast, we’ll delve deeper into the matchup Andrew Krammer pegged as a potential difference maker for the upcoming game.
Even though the Vikings defensive line hasn’t shown up in the box score as much during a three-game losing streak, Everson Griffen may still have been the group’s most impactful.
And even though quarterbacks are getting the ball out at a lightning-fast pace against this Vikings defense, their sack leader may have already affected Sunday’s game in Washington before kickoff.
The Redskins will be without second-team All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams, who is beginning a four-game suspension. Should they follow the Eagles’ plan, which shifted extra blockers to their backup right tackle in the Oct. 16 game, then Griffen could free up others along a defensive line frustrated by only two sacks in the last three games.
Career journeyman Ty Nsekhe (6-8, 335) will make his third career NFL start. Nsekhe has played sparingly for the Redskins this season, jumping in against the Giants because of injuries aside from being the occasional extra tackle in heavy personnel groups. Here’s a closer look at his play from the Washington Post.
Griffen (6-3, 273) is a “nightmare,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said before the Vikings defensive end led with seven combined tackles, two for a loss, including the lone sack on Matthew Stafford. Griffen’s reaction time is slim at the snap and, sometimes, too quick. His fourth offsides penalty of the season negated an Andrew Sendejo interception in last week’s overtime loss.
Though perhaps Griffen’s most crucial development under this Vikings coaching staff has been his improved play against the run, where his speed doesn’t allow many opponents to get the edge. He’s athletic enough to drop into coverage or react and stop a screen.
Plays like this below are underrated whenever a defensive lineman chases down a back or receiver from behind.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins will be a difficult one for the Vikings to take down. Washington fields a talented offense that protects the quarterback well. They’re tied for the fewest sacks allowed (11) with the Cowboys and Raiders.
Griffen hasn’t been able to control every matchup and Lions left tackle Taylor Decker continued an impressive rookie campaign against him last week. Mike Zimmer’s creative blitz packages can help. The Vikings’ lone sack came when safety Harrison Smith blitzed off left tackle, giving Griffen a mismatch against the guard.
The Vikings may have to rely on a four-man rush against a talented Redskins skill position group, which can be difficult to contain in man-to-man coverage. They enter with an upper hand in the matchup between Griffen and Nsekhe.
“We have to take advantage of that,” Griffen said.