Not too long ago, there was a purple prophecy about a certain Vikings defender.
The team’s defense had been underperforming (a reality that continues to manifest itself in all kinds of frustrating ways). Kevin O’Connell addressed the media, speaking about something he’d like to see: more playing time for rookie LB Brian Asamoah.
Brian Asamoah and The Purple Prophecy
The 22-year-old linebacker is in the midst of his rookie season in the NFL. Initially, his role was almost exclusively on special teams. Adamoah did a nice job for Matt Daniels, providing excellent tackling.
More recently, though, Brian Asamoah has been getting some opportunities to make plays for Ed Donatell’s defense. On Saturday, he was in 27 defensive snaps, which represents 39% of the defensive snaps. Both are career highs for the rookie. He only had 6 special teams snaps (21% of the team’s total), the lowest of his career. Perhaps those two things are connected; more playing time on defense means Asamoah is slowly getting a decreased role for the special teams.
More importantly, he made an impact on the field. Check out his forced fumble and fumble recovery:
The week prior – where he played 21 snaps (27% of the defense’s total) – Asamoah forced another fumble, but the referees mistakenly blew the play dead:
For whatever it’s worth, PFF gave Brian Asamoah a 91.3 grade for his efforts in Week 16. Recently, their grading has been the subject of some controversy given the modest assessment of Kirk Cousins’ effort against the Colts. Regardless, the grade for Asamoah adds some further weight behind the belief that the rookie is earning more playing time.
In fact, the head coach seemed to double down on the purple prophecy by once again articulating a desire to feature the young linebacker more:
For the record, I’m very in favor of more Josh Metellus. The young safety has a tough time getting onto the field since Donatell leans primarily on Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynum, but perhaps Metellus ought to get worked into a rotation.
Metellus’ playing time aside, it’s clear that Asamoah deserves more snaps. He has 12 tackles to go alongside the forced fumble and recovery. He also provides some upside in pass coverage given his excellent speed.
The Next Step for the Defense
Many were hoping for another step forward for the defense. Unfortunately, that didn’t really happen. Daniel Jones looked crisp throughout the game, extending plays with his legs and finding open men with consistency. Donatell’s group surrendered more than 400 yards yet again.
The defensive formula, unfortunately, isn’t going to involve completely stifling an opposing offense. Instead, it’ll involve opportunistic huge plays that help to stop the bleeding. Dustin Baker and Josh Frey have both written about this, but it’s worth repeating: generating turnovers is of the utmost importance for this team.
The past two games have involved Asamoah helping to provide the not-so-secret ingredient. Technically, we know that the Colts game didn’t have the forced fumble, but we all saw the play: Brian Asamoah helped set up Chandon Sullivan for that first defensive touchdown (yes, there was a second one that also got called back).
Moving forward, we should expect to see more Asamoah on the field. His speed allows him to generate a lot of power in his tackles while also adding an extra layer of help in pass coverage.
Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece. Originally, this piece was published on PurplePTSD.