Cam Bynum Should Continue To Play
Cam Bynum’s number was called with Harrison Smith being out of the last two games due to Covid. The fourth-round rookie played great these past few weeks, logging 18 tackles, 1.0 sack, two passes defended, and one interception. Head coach Mike Zimmer gave Bynum a lot of praise because of his high football IQ, and the corner-turned-safety showed a lot of versatility, aligning in the slot, in the box, and as a deep safety. In only two games he showed enough to at least gain some snaps when Smith returns. But the question is: how?
By no means am I saying that Bynum should be the starter. Even in a somewhat bad season, Smith is the starter and Xavier Woods is having a good season, although he has not been mentioned a lot. I think there are three different ways that Cam Bynum can see some playing time. One is very boring and the one I think is the most likely. Another involves a little bit of play design and would depend on how aggressive Zim wants to be. The last one (my favorite) is almost impossible to happen, but it would be great if our HC – or our future DC if Zimmer is fired – would consider doing this next season.
Rotating Smith, Woods, and Bynum
Let’s start with the boring one. This wouldn’t alter our defensive structure or personnel (base defense, nickel, or dime), only one player on the field. Woods has played in every defensive snap so far, and, him being our deep zone safety, it’s hard to envision Bynum or Smith doing his job. If we’re going to have a Bynum and Smith duo, it will probably be near our end zone. The other option would, of course, play Bynum and Woods. I don’t think Zimmer would take one of his favorite players off the field, but Bynum also earned some snaps on defense.
Using Smith or Bynum as a linebacker
This would change our defense a bit more, and it’s made possible due to Barr’s knee injury. We already had to play the first month of the season without him, he usually doesn’t practice on Wednesdays and missed the last game as well. It’s hard to know the full extent of this injury, but it would be a good idea to practice this, even if only to be a contingency plan. I also know we have Nick Vigil, and he is playing well when needed, but it’s wise to prepare for everything. You could also align Cam Bynum in this linebacker role, giving Zimmer the ability to disguise the defense, giving our defense the advantage. Both are good tacklers, so our run defense shouldn’t take a big hit. Also, this would probably be a passing-down call.
Three deep safeties
This is extremely unlikely to happen for a couple of reasons. First, it would take a long time to practice it. Second, I don’t even know if this type of defense has even crossed Zimmer’s mind. To be fair, it’s a fairly new defense that hasn’t really spread beyond the Big 12. As with every major NFL philosophy change, either offense or defensively, it starts in College Football. Brett Kollmann did an amazing video tracking down the origins of the spread offense, which took the league by storm this last couple of years. The three deep-safeties-defense’s big coming-out party was in 2018 in Iowa State. This defense helped the Cyclones to an 8-win season and a Bowl victory against Memphis.
As the name says, this defense is based on using three deep safeties. They use a 3-3-5 defense, with three down linemen, three linebackers, and 5 defensive backs. In my opinion, the Vikings have the personnel to do this. We have more than enough depth at DL, Kendricks is the best LB in the game (don’t @ me), our LB core is promising, and, of course, we have the safeties – assuming Xavier Woods stays. As I don’t have enough space in this article (or full knowledge about it) to explain, I’ll also link a great video explaining a defense that should be at the NFL sooner rather than later for its ability to defend the spread and RPO game. If we maintain the Smith-Woods-Bynum trio, I for sure would like to see the Vikings use the three deep safeties sometimes.
Also Read: Vikings Safety Camryn Bynum Saved My Sanity