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Bleacher Report – Vikings

“Numbers Can Lie…” Frazier Advises Not To Judge Defense On Early Season Statistics.

Photo – Hannah Foslien (Getty Images)

By: Aj Mansour |

Minneapolis, MN – The first two weeks of the Vikings season haven’t gone according to plan. An 0-2 start, gigantic question marks on offense and surprising problems on defense have all worked towards the Vikings to dropping their first two games of the year, both against divisional opponents. But while Christian Ponder remains the focus of most of the local criticism, it’s possible that Ponder isn’t this team’s biggest problem.

Through 120 minutes of play, the Minnesota Vikings defensive unit has allowed some astronomical numbers, many of which rank them near the bottom of the league.

  • 440 yards per game (28th)
  • 639 total passing yards (25th)
  • 241 total rushing yards (26th)
  • 32.5 points per game (30th)

Extending that a little further, Devin Hester’s huge day last Sunday forced the Vikings kick coverage unit to plummet down the charts as well. As of week two, the Vikings have allowed 263 kick return yards (last in the NFC, 31st in the league).

Despite the ugliness of those numbers above, Monday afternoon saw Coach Frazier tell us not to worry about the statistics as much as the actual play.

“When you look at numbers, you have to sometimes look behind the numbers,” Frazier explained. “When you look at [Sunday’s] situation, when it comes to points, and you never want to make excuses, but there are some factors that go into some of those numbers that you have to look at beyond just the raw data. Our defense, they’re doing some good things. I really believe they’re headed in the right direction. From my perspective, I have to be able to see the bigger picture and sometimes numbers can lie.”

Leslie makes a good point.

There aren’t many excuses that can justify the defensive effort in week one against Detroit but when you look at this last week’s game, there are some extenuating circumstances that put the defense in some tight spots.

Let’s start with Devin Hester’s record setting 249 kick return yards.

The final outcome of the Chicago game could have been quite different had the Bears not started their drives in Vikings’ territory four times leading to an average starting point of their own 40-yard line.

“[Our defense] played on short fields a number of different times yesterday,” Frazier continued. “Who knows if you make that team drive 80 yards on a consistent basis what a difference it might make.”

Next up, let’s take a look at the takeaways that the Vikings defense has been generating so far this year.

To date, the Vikes are averaging three takeaways a game with three fumble recoveries (one returned for TD) and three interceptions. That number is more than double there game average in 2012 (1.375 turnovers per game) and is good enough to have the Vikings tied for the second most takeaways so far in 2013.

“Our defense, without their effort [Sunday] it could have been a long, long day,” Frazier said Monday. “The play by Kevin Williams on the 1-yard line to get that batted ball. Harrison Smith, on the interception. The sack-fumble by Jared. The recovery by B-Rob. The play by Letroy Guion, our defense, wow, they played good football.”

Lastly, outside of the final back-breaking drive, which I understand you can’t discount, the Vikings defense actually played a pretty good second-half.

After watching Cutler and the Bears post 24 points in the first half, the Vikings defense held Chicago to zero points and only 60 yards passing leading up to the final drive where Cutler passed for an additional 76 yards and tacked on the game winning seven.

We won’t make the mistake of going as far to say that the Vikings are an elite defense that has been on the short end of tough situations this year, because that’s just not true. Chad Greenway seems to have lost a step, Erin Henderson looks lost, Chris Cook continually gets picked on by good quarterbacks and everybody is missing tackles left and right. All of that said, as Coach Frazier inferred they are actually playing better than their numbers may lead you to believe.

It’s early. The Vikings aren’t the only team that looks rusty. Let’s give them a few more weeks before we jump out to brash opinions and call for people’s heads.

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