Out in Minneapolis, Trojans and Bruins can coexist in peace, and enjoy winning together.
The Minnesota Vikings’ success this season has been fueled by a stifling defense, one that is particularly strong against the run, and few front-seven players have been better this season than defensive end Everson Griffen, the former USC standout who is third in the NFL with 10 sacks.
Playing behind Griffen is former UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks, who leads the Vikings (by a wide margin) with 71 total tackles. Together, they lead a Vikings defense that has regressed a bit against the pass this season but allows only 3.4 yards per rush attempt, second-best in the league.
Griffen’s value was on display last Sunday, when he sat out the Vikings’ victory over Washington with a foot injury. The Vikings allowed more than 20 points for the first time in two months but won 38-30.
“I was pretty close to playing, but the risk was not worth it,” Griffen told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “We got seven more weeks to go and I got to be healthy, so I’d rather miss one game than be done for four weeks.”
The Vikings, like the Rams, did not practice Tuesday, but the expectation out of Minnesota seems to be that Griffen will be available for Sunday’s game, and that’s not great news for the Rams.
Griffen, a 2010 fourth-round pick, is in his eighth season and his fourth year as a full-time starter, and he’s only two sacks away from his career high of 12 in 2014. Griffen has recorded at least one sack in each of his eight games this season. No Vikings player has ever recorded a sack in nine consecutive games.
WHO’S COACHING THE VIKINGS
It was a bumpy start to this season for Mike Zimmer, who first dealt with the loss of his star rookie running back, Dalvin Cook, to a knee injury, then lost his presumptive starting quarterback, Sam Bradford.
Zimmer has cruised over those bumps and has the Vikings at 7-2 and well on their way to the NFC North title. In 2014, Zimmer took over a Vikings team that went 5-10-1 and, in his second season, guided them to an 11-5 record and a division title. Zimmer remains in search of his first playoff victory.
He did, however, win the Super Bowl with Dallas in 1996 as the Cowboys’ defensive backs coach. Zimmer went on to enjoy great success as defensive coordinator in Dallas, Atlanta and Cincinnati.
BY THE NUMBERS
* 793: Receiving yards by Minnesota’s Adam Thielen, the third-highest total in the NFL this season. Thielen, a former…