Za’Darius Smith is proving to be a monster free-agent pickup for the Minnesota Vikings. He is a leader and has a non-stop motor that keeps opposing quarterbacks up at night. He is quickly turning into a fan favorite in Minnesota after Vikings fans watched him suit up for the Green Bay Packers for three seasons (2 fully healthy).
After an outstanding performance on the road against the Miami Dolphins, Smith now has the second most pressures on the quarterback this season. That is not second-best on the Vikings. That is second-best in the entire NFL.
Smith was all over the place and is a large reason the Vikings were able to secure the win. In addition to his season-high 11 pressures, he finished the game with 4 tackles, 4 QB hits, and 2 sacks. All four of those stats listed were season highs. This was a player-of-the-week type performance in every regard.
Smith Signing Reflects Well on Management
This was the biggest signing so far in the Kwesi Adofo-Mensah era. The Vikings knew what he was capable of but took a risk being that Smith only played one game for the Packers in 21′. Prior to the 2021 season, Smith put together back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons. He is looking to get back to that this year with his play so far.
With Za’Darius Smith getting it going, this might be just what the Vikings need to get this new 3-4 scheme rolling. The Vikings hired Ed Donatell as the defensive coordinator this off-season. It has been a slower adjustment than many fans anticipated.
The defense has given up a lot of yards this season to opposing teams. They are hanging in there, though, because they have limited points fairly well. They are currently a bend but don’t break defense and that is working for now.
For players that have played in a 4-3 there is typically an adjustment period for a 3-4. Smith has experience in it, but other Vikings players are getting used to it such as Danielle Hunter. the 3-4 is better against all the different passing sets in today’s NFL so it is worth the speed bumps while transitioning. Patrick Peterson for example is looking better nearly every week in this defense.
If the other players can get up to speed with Za’Darius Smith in this 3-4, this could end up being a surprisingly good defensive unit.
Dominique Clare is a sportswriter and blogger who covers the NFL, NBA, and fitness. He is the founder of Sports and Fitness Digest. Check out his Minnesota Vikings coverage and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok for real-time NFL, NBA, and fitness content.