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Lunch Break, 10/30: Pass 'D' Making Strides

The Vikings defense has shown much improvement during the 2014 season under first year Head Coach Mike Zimmer. Maybe the biggest area of improvement has been pass defense, where the team now ranks fourth in the NFL.

Matt Vensel from the Star Tribune highlights the upgraded Vikings pass defense here:

Captain Munnerlyn's eyebrows rose when a TV reporter stuck a probing microphone in his face and asked how much pride he took in the Vikings being ranked fourth in the NFL in pass defense.

"Oh, we're No. 4? Wow," the cornerback said Tuesday. "I didn't know that one."

Yes, it's true. These Vikings — not to be confused with those Vikings, the ones who finished next to last in pass defense a season ago — have quietly climbed into the top five through the first eight games of new coach Mike Zimmer's tenure. So quietly, it seems, that some Vikings defenders weren't even aware of just how well they have defended the pass of late.

But after holding two of their past three opponents to fewer than 200 yards passing, the Vikings find themselves looking down at traditionally stingy units such as the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, the focused Detroit Lions defense that everyone is raving about, and even the Seattle Seahawks' brash and boisterous Legion of Boom.

"I like the way they've played the last three weeks," Zimmer said when asked about the ranking. "Again, talk to me at the end of the season and I'll tell you what I think. There's a long way to go."

That No. 4 ranking might be a little misleading (they are 12th in yards allowed per pass attempt, a more telling stat). And their recent fourth-quarter failures are certainly concerning (two blown leads the past two weeks). But there is no denying the Vikings are vastly improved from a season ago when it comes to disrupting quarterbacks and slowing down their receivers, which are musts in today's NFL.

"Everybody is doing their jobs," cornerback Josh Robinson said. "The guys up front are hitting home. The rush and coverage are working together. So things are going much better."

Halfway through the season the Vikings have shown they have come a long way since last year when they allowed a team record 419 completions by their opponents.

Quick Hitters

  • Vikings notes via Mark Craig of the Star Tribune: Defensive tackles getting it done.
  • Quarterback Matt Cassel provided an injury update yesterday, from Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press.
  • Community March/Rally Planned for Sunday; Pre-Game Congestion Expected.

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