ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Thanks to the Edge Department, Vikings defense off to solid start after two subpar seasons

The Vikings sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers four times and harassed him throughout the game.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the third quarter of Minnesota's 23-7 win on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Minneapolis.
Brad Rempel / USA Today Sports
We are part of The Trust Project.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings have had the Purple People Eaters and the Rushmen. Now, they have the Edge Department.

Sack specialist Danielle Hunter revealed after Sunday’s resounding 23-7 victory over Green Bay in the opener at U.S. Bank Stadium the nickname that has been bestowed upon Minnesota’s edge rushers.

“The Edge Department did their job,” he said after the game.

Yes, it did. The Vikings sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers four times and harassed him throughout the game. Three of the sacks were by edge rushers Hunter, Za’Darius Smith and D.J. Wonnum, and the fourth by inside linebacker Jordan Hicks, who had a team-high 14 tackles.

But it seems as if membership in the Edge Department might also include those on Minnesota’s defense who aren’t edge rushers. Nose tackle Harrison Phillips let that be known Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I think if you earn the right, it is,” Phillips said. “There’s a couple of packages where we might be outside or maybe a corner will come down and set the edge and stuff, but it’s just good to know in our base calls and in our stuff, we have an Edge Department.”

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Brad Rempel / USA Today Sports

It seems as if defensive backs should be candidates for membership, too, even when they’re not used on the edge. After all, cornerback Patrick Peterson spoke after Sunday’s game about some of the Vikings’ sacks.

“We had a bunch of coverage sacks,” he said. “You know, just being really dialed in, in the back end.”

Regardless of who is in the Edge Department, one thing is for sure: The defense was back on Sunday after two lackluster seasons in which the Vikings finished with losing records.

In 2020, the Vikings were ranked No. 29 in the NFL in scoring defense and No. 27 in total defense. In 2021, they were No. 24 and No. 30 in those two categories, respectively. Injuries were a factor in the collapse of the defense. And it cost Mike Zimmer his job as head coach not that long after his defense was ranked No. 1 in the league in 2017 in both scoring and total defense.

Kevin O’Connell, the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator, took over for Zimmer and hired Ed Donatell as his defensive coordinator. Donatell switched the scheme from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4, and the results sure were good in the opener.

MORE MINNESOTA VIKINGS COVERAGE:
Pro
Four-year veteran broke up passes in the end zone in wins over Buffalo and New England
Pro
Adam and Caitlin Thielen started the Thielen Foundation in 2018 and have donated more than $2.5M to various organizations.
Pro
Fullback C.J. Ham and defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard also missed practice.
Pro
Jefferson already has 88 catches for 1,277 yards and is on pace to set new career highs in virtually every stat category.
Pro
Football great's father, Archie, played for Vikings in early '80s.
Pro
He took a couple of big hits in Sunday’s game against the New York Jets and bounced back to his feet.
Pro
The winner of the prestigious award will be announced on the Thursday before Super Bowl LVII.
Pro
The Vikings are 9-0 in games decided by eight points or less, an NFL record for the most consecutive wins in one-score games to start a season.
Pro
He stood before reporters at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon with a Filipino flag proudly draped over his shoulders.
Pro
Minnesota scores on much-needed drive after sputtering -- again.

After one game, the Vikings are No. 2 in the NFL in scoring defense and No. 13 in total defense. They held the Packers to nearly 20 points below their 2021 scoring average of 26.5 per game. The Vikings gave up 25.1 points per game last season.

“I think you see kind of how it all comes together when it’s working together like that,” O’Connell said Monday of the defense. “I thought Ed and that group, coaching-wise, and then those players out on the field got off to a great start.”

ADVERTISEMENT

O’Connell made note of how newcomers have helped the defense. Among the starters, four were signed during the offseason as free agents: Smith, Phillips, Hicks and defensive end Jonathan Bullard. Smith and nickel back Chandon Sullivan arrived after playing the past three seasons with Green Bay.

“I think it’s a confirmation from (general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah) and his staff and the collaboration we have in the building,” O’Connell said. “It’s one thing to acquire talented players, but I think the secret in all of that is making sure we’re in lock step on the role.”

One thing several Vikings players haven’t wanted to do is compare this season’s defense to the units of the past two years. Safety Harrison Smith, in his 12th Vikings season, said they “don’t really look back.” Hunter, in his eighth Minnesota season, echoed that.

“We’re in the present,” said Hunter, who sat out all of 2020 with a neck injury and missed the final 10 games last season with a torn pectoral muscle. “We don’t look at the past. … So, we’re happy about where we are right now. We’re going to continue to build with what we have and continue to thrive on what we have right now.”

For now, Phillips said the Vikings “have an Edge Department … that we pride ourselves on.” He then was asked if the team might start putting out T-shirts with “Edge Department” on them.

“I think so, for sure,” Phillips said.

ADVERTISEMENT

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
What to read next
Pro
Joe Pohlad took over the team organizational lead from his uncle, Jim.
Pro
Though it’s unclear how long Steel will stay at No. 1 center, he has done enough over the past few weeks to build trust.
Pro
Gobert, 30, spent the first nine years of his NBA career with the Jazz.
Pro
Valentin made 53 appearances for the Houston Dynamo in the past three seasons.