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Rich Gannon: Vikings Have 2 Key Elements on Defense

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Former Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon is glad he never had to line up against the current Vikings defense.

Gannon, who will provide analysis for Sunday's game between the Vikings and Colts on CBS, chatted with Vikings.com's Mike Wobschall on Friday afternoon.

Minnesota's defense ranks first in the NFL in points allowed per game (17.3) and is second in yards allowed per game (304.3).

Gannon said the Vikings have two key elements that help make up a strong defense under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. 

"If you're a quarterback, you make sure you put your flak jacket on that week. You're going to get hit, that's the reality of it," Gannon said. "When you go back and study [Zimmer], all the way back to his days in Dallas and Cincinnati, they're a physical group, and they do two things really well.

"They get after the quarterback and have very good cover corners," he added.

Gannon praised defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, who have a combined 18.5 sacks and the play of cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn.

"I think you look at this group with Hunter and Griffen and the way they can rush the passer, you look at the corners they have, Munnerlyn plays well in the slot," Gannon said. "I just got a chance to look at Xavier Rhodes out there on the field. You look at his arms and how physical he can be … he needs to get his hands to himself a little bit with those two penalties he had last week.

"To play great defense in this league, you have to have great pass rushers and great cover corners, and the Vikings have that," he added.

Offensively, Gannon said he's been impressed with Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford, who leads the league with a completion percentage of 71.2.

Bradford has thrown for 2,954 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions this season, compiling a quarterback rating of 98.3.

Gannon said he liked Bradford's downfield passing in last Sunday's 25-16 win over the Jaguars in which the quarterback completed a trio of 40-plus yard passes.

"The quarterback, to me, has been incredible," Gannon said. "Sam Bradford has the highest completion percentage of any quarterback in the league right now.

"He's getting the ball out quickly. The thing that they did do, they took a couple shots down the field, which I think is important," Gannon added. "You've got to be able to keep secondaries — defensive backs, safeties — honest and know you're going to stretch the field. They did that effectively against Jacksonville."

Gannon spent six seasons in Minnesota from 1987 to 1992. He went 19-16 as a starter for the Vikings* *before joining Washington (1993), Kansas City (1995-98) and Oakland (1999-2004) Gannon was selected to four straight Pro Bowls (1999-2002) with the Raiders and led the NFL with 4,689 passing yards in 2002.

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