The signing of George Iloka to a one-year deal this week is the newest example of the Vikings strengthening a defense that led the NFL in 2017 in points allowed and yards allowed.
Minnesota was able to swoop in thanks in part to Iloka's connections with Mike Zimmer and Terence Newman from their time together in Cincinnati.
At a time when offenses in the NFC are being touted, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report wrote that the Vikings can go toe-to-toe because of their talent and depth. Freeman wrote:
Iloka isn't a big name, but if you like watching safety play (and who doesn't — amiright?) then you know who he is. Quite simply, he's difficult to play against. Combining smarts and power, Iloka had 79 tackles, five passes defended and one interception last season.
Iloka is joining a familiar defense with a role to be defined. What is known at this point, however, is the Vikings already have three All-Pro/Pro Bowlers in Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes and Everson Griffen, as well as Pro Bowlers Anthony Barr and Linval Joseph. Minnesota also locked down Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter for the long term with deals this offseason.
Signing Iloka is like adding Denzel Washington to a movie cast that already featured Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep.
How's that for a counter move to the rest of the NFL?
Wild as it may sound, there is a chance the Vikings might not even start Iloka. Minnesota already has the deepest secondary in the sport. The backups to Trae Waynes and Rhodes — first-round pick Mike Hughes and veterans Terence Newman and Mackensie Alexander — could start on a number of teams. Yet they sit on a deep Vikings bench.
Downtown a convergence of events & construction
Downtown Minneapolis is hosting multiple sporting events Friday, and city officials have urged fans to plan ahead to get where they'd like to go early.
Tim Harlow of the Star Tribune noted:
A Vikings preseason game will bring about 65,000 fans to U.S. Bank Stadium on Friday night. A professional boxing match at the nearby Minneapolis Armory will bring a few thousand more. Add in a Twins game at Target Field and the University of Minnesota's women's volleyball season opening tournament at Target Center, and you've got a forecast for downtown gridlock.
Continued major construction projects also have potential to affect traffic flow.
Complicating matters is that 4th Street to Interstate 35W will be closed Friday night, meaning motorists heading north or south on I-35W will have to scoot over to Washington Avenue to get to the freeway.