Vikings Almost Have Their 2017 Run-Stopping Band Back Together.

Image: Minnesota Vikings

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The NFL offseason was getting underway and with Sheldon Richardson about to sign in Cleveland, the Vikings obviously had a need on the defensive front. After a season that saw the Vikings drop all the way from 2nd in the NFL against the run… to 15th, the Vikings turned to a familiar face.

Shamar Stephen, who played here from 2014-2017, was quickly locked down with a 3 year contract as soon as deals started to be announced. He is expected to bring his run-clogging presence back to the Vikings’ defensive line. Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen were a force in 2017, next to Linval Joseph, which helped lead the Vikings to the #1 defense in both scoring and total yards that season. It’s clear the Vikings are looking to go back to that formula, where the focus is on stopping the run first, and thus forcing teams to beat them through the air.

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via GIPHY

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On its face, the loss of Sheldon Richardson seems like a big deal. He’s a very solid pass rusher from the DT position. But, playing defensive tackle goes far beyond that.

I took a look back at the 2018 season and compared Sheldon Richardson’s stats with Tom Johnson’s, to help myself put things into perspective:

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Sheldon Richardson

  • 16 Games (16 Starts) 
  • 49 Tackles (26 solo) 
  • 6 TFLs 
  • 16 QB Hits 
  • 4.5 Sacks

(Per Pro-Football-Reference.com)

Tom Johnson

  • 13 Games (0 Starts)
  • 23 Tackles (16 Solo)
  • 2 Fumble Recoveries
  • 7 TFLs
  • 7 QB Hits
  • 4.5 Sacks

(Per Pro-Football-Reference.com)

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It’s not about the name, it’s about the work. Sheldon is a solid player, but at his cost, there are better options. Letting him walk was the right thing for the Vikings to do. Signing Stephen back was a good first step. Now, Tom Johnson is a Free Agent but has expressed interest in returning on a 1-Year Deal. That’s something the Vikings should be more than willing to do.

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Brian Heintz | Minnesota Sports Fan

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