Oakland Raiders Week 3 opponent preview: Minnesota Vikings
By Daniel Davis
Defensive strength: Secondary
In the NFL a good defense will almost always beat a good offense. Take a look back to when the Seahawks fumbled Peyton Manning and the Broncos after career years by the Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Vikings have a strong defense, specifically their front seven. However, their secondary isn’t all that bad either.
Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes are fantastic players who always have a knack for the ball. The eight-year veteran, Smith, has 433 solo tackles in his career while also having 12 sacks and 50 passes defended. Watching the coaches film on him, it’s incredible the range he has.
One play stood out to me the most. There was a screen to the right by the Packers offense and Harrison was covering the slot receiver on the left side. When Adams came back over to the left side Smith was patient and allowed Adams to run right into him and he made the tackle for a 3-yard loss.
Smith is patient, fast, hard-hitting, and studies film like no one else. Even more impressive is of his 433 solo tackles, 137 have come in the RedZone and 97 of those tackles have prevented a touchdown on third-down. What else is left to say about Harrison Smith?
Rhodes is another player worth talking about, too. Rhodes is an All-Pro cornerback with two back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2016-2017. He’s defended 68 passes in his career and logged 260 solo tackles in it, too.
The most impressive stat of him is he’s only allowed six catches which led a touchdown and when in the red zone, he hasn’t allowed a single touchdown in his career. If that’s impressive, his yards-after catch (the time between the tackles the player and when he catches the ball) is only 3.7 yards in his career.
Meaning, he knows how to play man-to-man coverage and knows how to tackle fast. Not to mention he’s also 6’1″ and 210 pounds so he’s physical. One thing to note about him is he follows the No. 1 wide receiver around the field so expect Tyrell Williams to get a dose of Rhodes this week if you’re a fantasy football player.
It would also be criminal if I didn’t talk about the next player. Eric Kendricks, the linebacker is fast and knows how to tackle. The fifth year pro is extremely fast and knows where the ball is going. The Vikings run defense is probably the best in the NFL right now and a lot of that has to do with Kendricks and his speed.
He knows how to get off blocks and knows the weaknesses of the offense. He seemingly also knew where the run plays were going. Kendricks wraps up and tackles with force. In his career, he’s had 420 tackles, 100+ tackles from 2016-2018, and 26 passes defended.
He’s so fast he can keep up with running backs in pass coverage and he’s strong enough to throw guards on their backs while getting to the ball.