The Vikings secondary made improvements against the pass last season, jumping from last in the League in both passer rating allowed and touchdown passes allowed to 25th and tied for 23rd, respectively. They also jumped from 28th in the League in passing yards allowed to 23rd.
But for the Vikings to accomplish many of their team goals in 2013, even more improvement will be needed in 2013. Good news: that improvement is well underway in Mankato.
With the second preseason game fast approaching, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier sounds excited to zero in on which players will play key roles in another season of improvement for the secondary.
“That secondary, these next two games, will be very, very important to find out where we are and what we are trying to do to improve before we play that first (regular season) game,” Frazier said. “It is a key area for us to get a feel for coming out of this preseason.”
Digging even deeper on what the coaching staff expects of the secondary this season, Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams talked about the importance of creating turnovers.
“We need to turn the ball over, that’s been a point of emphasis all camp, we need to take the ball away,” Williams said. “Offenses are doing a better job of making sure that they’re not putting themselves in bad situations. With that we still have to take it away, and that will be a big point of emphasis, so that we can get the ball back to our offense, and score on defense.”
The Vikings were just 22nd in the NFL last season with 22 takeaways, and they ranked tied for 27th with just 10 interceptions. But, with a 10-3 record when the defense forced a turnover, you can see why Frazier and Williams are preaching to their players the importance of finding a way to force turnovers.
“Part of it is instinct, and I’m not going to discount that, but part of it is hustling to the football, that every guy is expected to run to the ball, so when the ball is on the ground we have more bodies around it,” Williams explained. “Mathematically, we have a better chance to get the football, and that’s why we preach the last guy hustling to the football. We talked about being smart runners, that we’re not over running the football, that if you’re backside you are attacking the inside hip, so the ball carrier doesn’t cut back, and take it the distance. Some of it is instinct, some of it is hustle and some of it is making sure that you’re playing smart football.”