Every week following the Access Vikings Gameday Preview podcast we’ll delve deeper into the player Andrew Krammer pegged as a key difference maker for the upcoming game.
The evolution of Brian Robison is one of the reasons for the Vikings defensive line’s success this season.
Robison, the 33-year-old defensive end in his 10th NFL season, has embraced new assignments in the playbook that have him, at times, running away from the quarterback.
Though on Sunday in Philadelphia, the Vikings have to like his outlook going forward in the upcoming matchup with Eagles rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who will start his second game for the suspended Lane Johnson.
Last week, the guy across from Vaitai, Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan, accounted for 2.5 sacks on five quarterback hits as Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz took five sacks in a loss.
Enter Robison, whose play has yet to drop off with age. And they’re not giving him much of a break. Only Everson Griffen has played more snaps along the defensive line this season as Robison is on pace to play more than 900 snaps for the sixth straight year.
Against the Texans two weeks ago, Robison showed again he’s still a handful when you let him rush the right edge. He twice sacked Brock Osweiler, letting a third just out of his grasp. Robison is also asked to make an impact beyond his sack totals as a movable piece in Mike Zimmer’s blitz schemes.
Whether his hand is in the turf at left end or he’s standing over a guard or center as the defensive tackle, Robison could be dropping back to cover a tight end or running back. At the line, he’s given responsibilities to call stunts or twists depending on their own play call. Sometimes he’s setting the pick to free another teammate.
On this third-and-12 against the Texans, Robison is standing between right guard and right tackle with Danielle Hunter at left end. At the line, Robison lurches forward to create the slightest hesitation from the linemen and drops to cover the tight end.
Griffen, Hunter and even Tom Johnson have dropped into coverage to boost the unpredictability of this Vikings defense. Though their teeth really come out when they’re let loose to attack the quarterback. Many, especially Griffen, have an impeccable timing for the snap and a wide array of pass-rush moves.
And on Sunday against the Eagles and their rookie right tackle, keep an eye on Robison when he lines up at his traditional spot of left end. All four of his sacks this season, including two strip-sacks, have come from there.