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After Further Review: Vikings Defense Deploys 4 'Paths' to Sack Russell Wilson

After Further Review is a deeper look at plays or stats after Vikings games…

Not all sacks are created equally.

The Vikings totaled six takedowns of Seahawks quarterbacks on Thursday in the second preseason game for both teams.

Minnesota got to fleet-footed Russell Wilson four times in a variety of ways and then added two more sacks of rookie Trevone Boykin on the game's final possession.

Here's a recap of the four sacks of Wilson, along with individual "paths" to the quarterback.

Sack 1: First-and-10 at the Seattle 39 with 7:46 left in the first quarter — With Seattle in somewhat of a neutral run-or-pass down-and-distance scenario, the Vikings are in their base defense and opt to bring only their front four defenders. Defensive ends Brian Robison and Everson Griffen bring pressure from each of the edges, but in a controlled manner, forcing Wilson to move up in the pocket and into the arms of Linval Joseph for a 2-yard loss.

The path:Responsible rushing — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has hammered home responsibility for maintaining rush lanes to maximize the effectiveness of the front four defenders. The job that Robison and Griffen did in tandem, as well as Joseph locking down the middle resulted in the first sack. This one also should be joined by a shout out to the secondary for solid coverage.

Sack 2: Second-and-10 at the Seattle 20 with 2:03 left in the first quarter — The Vikings remain in base defense and again bring only the front four defensive linemen. Robison bull rushes Garry Gilliam backward. The backing up of the right tackle somewhat takes away a clean escape route as Griffen gains ground from the left side. Wilson spins away from Griffen as Gilliam recovers enough to clear Robison, but Griffen is hot on the trail. Joseph begins heading Wilson's direction from the middle of the field, causing the quarterback to stay on the same footpath that Griffen is using in pursuit.

The path: Applied athleticism — Robison has 48.5 career sacks, and Griffen has 22.5 since becoming a starter in 2014. Both are strong and explosive players, and both won 1-on-1 matchups with tackles at different parts of the play. Griffen finished the play with an impressive burst for a loss of 10.

Sack 3: First-and-10 at the Seattle 49 with 11:37 left in the second quarter — The Vikings decide to dip a toe in the pool without getting too exotic. The take advantage of the rushing threats posed by the rush abilities of linebacker Anthony Barr and safety Harrison Smith and bring both from outside of Robison. Seattle uses its right guard to matchup against Robison, leaving Gilliam to pick between two difficult options. The right tackle opted for Smith, leaving Barr with a clear path. Barr, however, didn't get too amped during his free run. He controlled his approach and tracked down Wilson for a loss of 11.

"I just wasn't blocked, and you've gotta make the most out of your opportunities. He's tough to get, so you've got to take advantage of those moments," Barr said after the game.

The path: Overload of skillsets — Barr and Smith excel at multiple things, including rushing quarterbacks. Separately, either can create a mismatch, but together, they can create a perplexing scenario that's hard to solve. A key is the rest of the defense being strong to allow Zimmer to deploy players in different ways.

Sack 4: Third-and-7 at the Seattle 41 with 1:28 left in the second quarter — With an almost absolute certain pass situation and the Seahawks in the hurry-up offense, the Vikings are in the nickel. They show pressure up the middle with linebackers Emmanuel Lamur and Audie Cole between the defensive tackles. This slides the defensive tackles and defensive ends wider down the line and creates a situation in which Danielle Hunter can rush from the edge with more pressure exerted by safety Andrew Sendejo on a blitz. Defensive tackle Tom Johnson joins the effort with a move around Gilliam and takes a route that forces Wilson to retreat into the path of Sendejo, and Hunter is right there as well after they both beat a block attempt by rookie running back Zac Brooks. Sendejo executed the tackle for a loss of 18.

Analyst Pete Bercich said on the simulcast by FOX 9 and KFAN 100.3-FM: "That's what happens when you send athletes like we have in Anthony Barr and guys like Sendejo. You see, what's impressive is they got this blitz in very quickly and you see unblocked guys coming off the edge. This ends up being what they call a jail break in the business. Russell Wilson had nowhere to go."

The path: Bluff and blitz — Zimmer receives a significant amount of credit from opponents for what he does with linebackers showing double A-gap blitz. He can bring one or both linebackers, or sometimes drops both into coverage, but by then the offensive line has committed its resources and might have an oversight.

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