Mike Siravo – the Vikings’ LB Coach – Identifies the Defense’s “Chess Piece” Weapon for 2023

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no shortage of enthusiasm for what Brian Asamoah will be able to do in 2023. The recent words from middle linebacker coach Mike Siravo will do little to undercut the hype.

The sophomore linebacker has the inside track for a starting position alongside Jordan Hicks. Eric Kendricks – one of the franchise’s all-time great middle linebackers – is now tracking down ball carriers for the Chargers. In his stead will be Mr. Asamoah, who played his college ball at Oklahoma.

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Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders running back Antonio Gibson (24) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah II (33) during the second quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

During today’s round of coaching press conferences, middle linebackers coach Mike Siravo had good things to say about Asamoah. The charming, affable coach praised his young LB’s athleticism and speed, noting that he’s “a gifted athlete” who “brings unreal energy.”

Shortly thereafter, the coach unpacked what we can expect from Brian Asamoah:

He’s one of those chess pieces that you’re going to see him all over the field. He could rush, he could drop, he can do a bunch of different things. He’s athletic enough to play man.

Notable praise from the position coach, especially since he pivots out of his answer by simply declaring, “he’s been awesome.” Based on Siravo’s comments, Vikings fans can anticipate seeing Asamoah doing all kinds of damage in Year 2 in the NFL. Plenty of blitzes and difficult coverage assignments (man coverage, potentially, with gifted running backs and tight ends) await Asamoah.

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Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah II (33) in action against the Detroit Lions during the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In a league where actions truly do speak louder than words, the Vikings’ inaction at linebacker says an awful lot. Sure, Troy Reeder may be a diamond in the rough, but one wonders if the former Ram & Charger is here to complement Hicks rather than steal away snaps from Asamoah. Yes, there is still a full offseason of competing that needs to happen, but it would be a major disappointment if Asamoah doesn’t snag a starting job.

As a rookie, Brian Asamoah mostly got onto the field as a special teams player. He piled up 285 snaps for Matt Daniels’ crew, more than double the 119 snaps he received for Ed Donatell’s group. The expectation is that he’ll far, far surpass the snap total for defense in 2023.

Vikings fans grew supremely frustrated by watching last season’s defense, a group that didn’t appear particularly interested in making life difficult for the opponent. On a weekly basis, we witnessed thoroughly average offenses put together efforts that belong alongside the ’07 Patriots. Frustrating, discouraging, and exasperating all wrapped up into one defensive disaster.

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell looks on before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

With Brian Flores now calling the shots, there’s certainly considerable optimism for a much different approach. Known as a blitzing wizard who specializes in ultra aggression, Flores is tasked with helping to awaken a defense that’s been hibernating for three seasons.

Thankfully, the early word from Mike Siravo is that the Vikings will get a boost from their sophomore linebacker, the versatile “chess piece” who has humongous potential.

A 3rd-round selection in 2022, Brian Asamoah had 17 tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery as a rookie. He’s coming into the year with a $1,247,010 cap charge.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.