Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The best individual seasons for Minnesota Vikings' defensive players

It can be difficult to measure a defensive player's season statistically, since a variety of factors can affect the numbers of a lineman, linebacker or defensive back. Also, some stats such as sacks were recorded by teams but not recognized as official by the NFL. So for this article available statistics, honors such as being named to the Pro Bowl, and the team's overall success during the season were considered. Since some players have had more than a few outstanding seasons, only one season has been included for each player.

10) Bobby Bryant, CB, 1973: A key player on a Vikings defense that dominated opponents, Bryant led the unit with 7 pass interceptions, returning them for 105 yards and one touchdown, plus returning another pick for a score in the NFC championship game that sealed a win against the Cowboys.

9) John Randle, DT, 1997: Constantly disrupting opponents, Randle's play helped shut down offense's running games and harassed quarterbacks. He led the NFL with 15.5 sacks, which was also his career high. Randle also forced two fumbles and recovered two while being named to the Pro Bowl and first team All-Pro.

8) Carl Lee, CB, 1988: Part of one of the best defensive units in franchise history, Lee intercepted 8 passes, returning them for 118 yards and two touchdowns. He was named first team All-Pro and was selected to the Pro Bowl.

7) Paul Krause, S, 1975: The NFL's career leader in interceptions, Krause picked off a career high 10 passes, returning them 201 yards for the NFL's number one ranked defense in 1975. He was selected to the Pro Bowl and first team All-Pro.

6) Jim Marshall, DE, 1969: Selected to the Pro Bowl as part of one of the best defenses in NFL history that shut down the run and hurried quarterbacks, Marshall registered 14 sacks in 14 games. He also recovered two fumbles and intercepted a pass.

5) Jared Allen, DE, 2011: The Vikings single season leader in sacks with 22, Allen also forced 4 fumbles, recovered 4, intercepted a pass and recorded a safety. What is most impressive is that he reached these numbers without a strong supporting cast around him, unlike most of the others on this list. Named first team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl.

4) Keith Millard, DT, 1989: Named the NFL's defensive player of year for this season, Millard stuffed the run and sacked the quarterback 18 times, to go along with an interception and fumble recovery. Among his many postseason honors was a selection to the Pro Bowl and first team All-Pro.

3) Chris Doleman, DE, 1989: A major piece of the Vikings strong defenses in the late 1980's, Doleman recorded 21 sacks from his right end position. He also forced 5 fumbles and recovered another 5 balls. Selected to the Pro Bowl and named first team All-Pro.

2) Carl Eller, DE, 1969: Eller had a number of great seasons for the Vikings so it's difficult to select one. He recorded double digit sack numbers five years in a row from 1973-1977; and in 1977 he had 86 total tackles and 17 sacks - his career high - in a 14 game season, plus three more in the NFC championship game against the Cowboys. But 1969 may have been his most dominant season. He had 15 sacks and was part of a defense that allowed only 133 total points. Eller was named to eight post-season first-team all star teams, including the Pro Bowl and All-Pro.

1) Alan Page, DT, 1971: Like Eller, it's difficult to pick any one best season for Page. In 1971 he became the first defensive player to win the NFL Most Valuable Player Award. To date only one other defender has won the MVP award - Lawrence Taylor. In 1969 Page was part of one of the best defenses in NFL history, pressuring quarterbacks and making tackles behind the line of scrimmage. In 1970 he recorded 10.5 sacks and recovered 6 fumbles; in 1974 he had 146 total tackles, impressive for an interior lineman, plus 13 sacks. In 1975 he also registered 13 sacks and forced 7 fumbles, the Vikings' single season record. In 1976 he recorded 19 sacks in a 14 game season to go along with 121 total tackles. So we'll go with his MVP season as his best.

sources for statistics: http://min.scout.com/

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