Griffen Making Spielman Look Smart… Twice
The Vikings resurgence on defense has been highlighted by a few individuals. But the player who has come through the most for the Vikings is Everson Griffen. He recently signed a multi-year contract, with $20 million guaranteed. He plays a position that requires a strong pash presence, especially in the quaterback strong NFC North. Thus far in 2014, Griffen has responded. He is currently 7th in the NFL in sacks with 11.
The Vikings were fortunate Griffen responded, he was a bit of the gamble by General Manager, Rick Spielman. Griffen started his Vikings career as a fourth round pick with high upside and off the field red flags. The Vikings were still trying to incorporate a culture of responsibility, brought on by then head coach Brad Childress. Spielman, however knew that starting left end Ray Edwards was going to leave in free agency and it was time to bring in young talent. Ironically, the “success” of Edwards Vikings career allowed for the Griffen draft decision easy. Edwards wasn’t a major problem with the Vikings and the team gambled that Griffen would not be either.
He displayed flashes of big play ability in the 2011 season with 4 sacks and became an interesting front 7 OLB/DE hybrid for Leslie Frasier. This was a compliment to Griffen’s athletic and playmaking abilities, as Frasier typically preaches fundamentals over exotic looks and blitzes. He rewarded Frasier’s willingness to use him in creative ways in 2012 with 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 pass defenses, and 1 interception. As his state line shows, he affected opposing offenses in many ways. Perhaps he was the early inspiration on how Green Bay uses Julius Peppers in 2014.
As great as Griffen was in a utility role, the Vikings needed to use his pass rushing skills exclusively when they declined to resign Viking defensive end great, Jared Allen. Could Griffen succeed as a permanent fixture at the right defensive end where offenses can scheme where he would be on most plays regularly? In the first year of his $42.5 million dollar contract, the answer is a resounding yes. Everson Griffen continues to make Rick Spielman look smart.