Slowing Down Danielle Hunter Key for Chiefs' Offense vs. Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings bring one of the league's top-five defenses in to Arrowhead Stadium in Week 9, ranking third in the league in scoring and fifth in the league in yards per game. Here's how the Chiefs can use their aggressiveness against them while mitigating the damaged that the Pro Bowl-laden unit can bring to bear.
The Vikings run a 4-3 base defense with mainly cover 2, 2 man and man free coverages. The defensive line is anchored in the middle by nose tackle Linval Joseph, who clogs up the run game with his powerful 6-foot-4, 329-pound frame.
Defensive end Danielle Hunter is a physical freak with power and speed that makes him a nightmare for anybody attempting to block him one-on-one, especially if that blocker is a tight end. Hunter looks to shoot gaps on third-and-short to get stops in the backfield. Opposite of Hunter is a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen.
The back end is patrolled by three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes and four-time Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith. The linebackers also have a four-time Pro-Bowler in Anthony Barr. This defense doesn’t lack for star power.
This aggressive defense looks to attack the run in the backfield and get pressure on the quarterback with twists and stunts. They will slant the defensive line away from a blitzing safety, and also run a twist on one side of the line, with a blitz coming from the other side.
Beating The Defense
The Vikings' defensive aggressive and attacking nature also provides the key to their undoing. Their linebackers flow hard downhill at the first sight of the run, opening up the middle of the field behind the fast-flowing linebackers on play-action passes. For the play-action to be effective, Kansas City will need to add a little more emphasis on the run game, using stretch runs to spread out the defense and give the running backs a chance to pick a lane to run through.
The secondary has a tendency to bite hard on the first move by a receiver, leaving them vulnerable to double moves. The Chiefs can also look to attack with misdirection, quick hitting jet sweep/tap passes and the screen game.
Rhodes is a very good corner, but he shows signs of reacting more slowly to hard breaks in receivers' routes, giving up easy completions. Cornerback Trae Waynes has the speed to match any receiver, but he gives up separation at the line of scrimmage. Receiver can set him up with a good inside or outside jab step before releasing to the opposite side of their jab step. He also is a little slow to change direction on in and out breaking routes.
Linebacker Anthony Barr is weak in pass coverage, and Eric Kendricks isn’t much better. The Chiefs have to find a way to get them isolated on a running back, and then target that matchup any chance they get for easy yardage.