Commentary

The rich get richer as Minnesota tops the charts

Adding DE Jared Allen to the Vikings' already-dominant defensive line gives offenses something else to worry about, writes Doug Kretz.

Originally Published: July 14, 2008
By Doug Kretz | Scouts Inc.
The Giants proved last year that defense wins championships, so their defensive line is ranked among the elite heading into the 2008 season. But the Vikings lead the way thanks to one key offseason addition, which makes them a force against the pass as well as the run. Here's how the rest of the top 10 shakes out.

1. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings owned the best run defense in 2007, in large part because of their defensive tackles, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. They gave up a paltry 74.1 yards per game, which forced opponents to become pretty much one-dimensional. Now that they have added DE Jared Allen, who led the NFL with 15.5 sacks last season while playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, they should be able to put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks as well. This will, in turn, take a lot of pressure off of LDE Ray Edwards and force teams to concentrate on their pass-blocking schemes to the right side of Minnesota's defense. Kevin Williams also is one of the best defensive tackles in terms of getting to the quarterback; he's earned 34 sacks the past five years.

2. New York Giants
The Giants led the NFL in sacks in 2007 with 53, and their front four played a major role in their Super Bowl run. Losing DE Michael Strahan to retirement will affect the Giants' defense, but surprisingly the run defense will feel his absence more than the pass defense. Last year, as a sub, Justin Tuck had 10 sacks. Plus, he has the ability to slide inside and allow LB Mathias Kiwanuka to put his hand on the ground and rush off the edge as a designated pass-rusher. Interior linemen Barry Cofield, Fred Robbins and Jay Alford provide depth and different personnel looks, so they make it difficult for offensive coordinators to plan against them.

A career NFL scout, Doug Kretz spent 19 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, one each with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins and three with the Cleveland Browns. A soccer player in college at Seattle Pacific University, Kretz spent four years as football and soccer coach at Newport High School in Bellevue, Wash., before joining the Seahawks.