Vikings generated pressure with four on Sunday, but not quickly
The Rams were already behind the eight ball heading into the game because of the season-ending injury to quarterback Sam Bradford in the preseason but were sunk futher into a hole when backup Shaun Hill went out of the game with an injury and they were forced to turn to Austin Davis to lead the team for the second half.
It is worth noting that by that point the Minnesota defense was already suffocating the Rams offense to the point many have speculated that Hill’s removal from the game had little to do with injury at all, rather an attempt by Jeff Fisher to inject some life into the offense.
Overall the Vikings were able to generate pressure on 17 of the 41 St Louis passing plays, and on the surface of it the numbers look good across the board, but the Rams were a bit of a lame duck in terms of pass-protection and the worry for the team going forward was how long it was taking their best pass-rushers – Everson Griffen and Brian Robison – to generate heat off the edge.
The Rams quarterbacks averaged 2.82 and 2.76 seconds to throw in this game, which is around half a second slower than the quicker times in the league over a season. That might not sound like much, but in pass-rushing terms that half a second is an eternity.
Griffen earned himself a pair of sacks on back to back plays late in the game, but neither was a particularly dominant rush from him. One was a pure clean up sack and one came from fighting back inside Jake Long after his initial outside move had been absorbed. In truth it owed at least as much to the quarterback hanging around in the pocket for too long than it did to Griffen’s rush.
Griffen and Robison are among the league’s most athletic pass-rushers, but they weren’t able to generate much in the way of very quick pressure against the Rams. The best teams need to have those speed rushers so that they don’t have to rely on the blitz to affect plays quickly.
In this game Minnesota brought the blitz on just 10 plays overall, and six of them resulted in pressure, a far better output than the 32.4% of plays they generated pressure when just rushing four.
They’ll be hoping Griffen and Robison can increase the speed of their disruption against New England in a week.