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Everson Griffen, Tom Johnson Chemistry Part of Winning Formula

Mark Craig of the Star Tribune writes that the ability of defensive end Everson Griffen and defensive tackle Tom Johnson to complement each other on pass rushes is benefitting the Vikings. Craig noted:

*Since the start of last season, Griffen and Johnson rank fifth among end-tackle tandems in combined sacks (25). Griffen has 16.5 while Johnson has 8.5.


*First on that list with 34.5 is Houston's J.J. Watt and Jared Crick. Miami's Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh are tied for second with St. Louis' Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald (29), while Buffalo's Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus (28) are fourth. *

"Tom benefits a lot from Everson's speed," (Vikings Head Coach Mike) Zimmer said. "[Griffen forces] the [tackle] to get up the field a little bit more, so it creates a little bit more space between the tackle and the guard, especially if the protection is going the other way. They both have a good chemistry between them."

Team elements of a comeback

Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton liked much of what he saw in the Vikings come-from-behind victory Sunday at Soldier Field. In addition to top-notch plays made by individual efforts, Tarkenton liked their existence within a team atmosphere. Tarkenton wrote:

*The emergence of rookie Stefon Diggs as a star wide receiver has been a game changer for the Vikings' offense. He is making great plays, from the highlight-reel catch at Detroit on Oct. 25 to his incredible catch-and-run touchdown Sunday against the Bears.


*Diggs took a 10-yard pass, made his defender miss and took it all the way to the end zone. That's a game-changing play! It even saved time on the game clock, allowing the Vikings to get the ball back and win in regulation. *

Tarkenton added that Charles Johnson's 35-yard catch to set up the game-winning field goal shouldn't be understated either.

There were high expectations for him coming into the season, and instead he lost his starting job to Diggs. But instead of sulking about his role, Johnson came to play and made a great catch to help the team win. That's an indication of the kind of culture that the Vikings have: a culture of respect and love for your teammates.

**Class of 2014


Zimmer was one of seven coaches hired in 2014. He interviewed with other teams before Minnesota offered him the job, but is the only one with a winning record this season. Andrew Krammer of wrote that "Zimmer has built the most solid foundation* *with the Vikings than any of the seven hires from 2014."

Zimmer, who is 12-11 as head coach, has taken that underdog identity and projected it to his 5-2 Vikings, even though he and the franchise have a step on the rest of those 2014 hires. Including Cleveland coach Mike Pettine and the Browns, none of the other six organizations sit after Week 8 in Year 2 with a winning record -- they're all a combined 12-26 this season.

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