Vikings: Cornering the Slot Problem
In 2013, the Vikings had a very difficult time limiting opposing offenses’ slot production. In 2014, despite many changes, the Vikings are on the same kind of production pace. We decided to dig into our PFF Cornerbacks Slot Performance signature stats for comparison.
Last year three different Vikings players saw most of the action in the slot as Robert Blanton, Josh Robinson, and Marcus Sherels combined for 532 slot snaps. Each player allowed a quarterback rating of over 119.3 and none of the three were able to intercept a pass. The total damage out of the slot against the Vikings defense was 1187 yards, 10 touchdowns, 1 interception and a 79% completion rate.
The Vikings’ big pick-up in free agency this year was Captain Munnerlyn. As a Panther, he finished 2013 ranked 10th overall in our cornerback grading at +10.9. Thus far, the Vikings have used Munnerlyn outside in their base defense, but move him to the slot for their sub packages – similar to the role he played in Carolina. Last year, when he played slot (59% of the time) he allowed 47 of 70 passes to be completed for 497 yards. He did not allow a touchdown and was able to snag an interception. This year when in the slot (69% of the time), the results have been all too familiar for the Vikings. He’s allowed 10 of 12 passing, 138 yards , three touchdowns and a 154.2 NFL QB rating.
We’re not saying Munnerlyn is a bad player – he’s been much stingier outside of the slot (3-4 passing for 27 yds in 52 coverage snaps) and his overall coverage grade is only slightly below average. We just know slot coverage was a problem for the Vikings last year and something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.