Danielle Hunter Has a Lofty Goal
The Minnesota Vikings pass rush is looking to be one of the very best in the league this year with the duo of Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith at EDGE. Obviously, much of this success will rely on their health, but if they stay on the field, they should be one of the best pass-rush duos in the league.
From 2016-19, Danielle Hunter was viewed not only one of the most talented pass rushers in the NFL, but also one of the most consistent. In three of those four seasons, he recorded double digit sacks, including 14.5 in both 2018 and 2019. However, injuries have derailed the pass rusher in both 2020 and 2021, leaving him sidelined for the entirety of 2020 and 10 games in 2021.
Now, he comes into 2022 with a very lofty goal: breaking Jared Allen’s franchise record for single-season sacks. Allen mentioned the goal in his press conference at his Vikings Ring of Honor celebration yesterday prior to the training camp practice. Then, when asked about it afterwards by Chris Tomasson, Hunter said, “I am not a man of words. I am a man of action. That is all I have to say about that.”
Allen recorded the record of 22 sacks during a 2011 season where nothing else really went right for the Vikings. They went 3-13 in their first year after the Brett Favre era, and even with Allen, the defense allowed 28.1 points per game.
If Hunter were to accomplish even a similar number of sacks in 2022, the team result likely ends up being much different for this version of the Vikings 11 years later. Minnesota ranked second in sacks during the 2021 campaign, only behind the Pittsburgh Steelers, even without a true star at EDGE. This time around, they have two such players with Hunter and Smith while maintaining much of their depth around the defensive line.
The defensive struggles have been a big reason why the Vikings have been unable to remain competitive the past two years, resulting in sub-.500 football in both 2020 and 2021. Hunter’s presence and stardom at EDGE could be a difference maker in 2022.