Vikings’ Tom Johnson: “We’ve got the best defense in the NFL”

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Players on the Vikings’ defense are heading into the season confident that they can dominate.

“We’ve got the best defense in the NFL,’’ Vikings defensive tackle Tom Johnson told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.

Other players echoed those sentiments. Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter said the players have it in their minds that they should be the best in the league.

“That’s what we’re going for,” Hunter said. “You got to want to be the No. 1 defense.”

Said safety Harrison Smith, “That’s the mindset we have to have.”

That’s where the Vikings were last year, as their defense dominated on the way to a 5-0 start. But the defense declined significantly later in the season, and the Vikings went from 5-0 to 8-8. The Vikings need their defense to back up its brash talk for 16 games this season.

119 responses to “Vikings’ Tom Johnson: “We’ve got the best defense in the NFL”

  1. Boy that’s something you don’t see every day year.
    Vikings winning the “whole thing” before it even gets started.
    Yaawn!

  2. What he should have said is that they should have the best defense in the NFL. Statistically, they haven’t gotten there yet so I don’t know that you can make that claim. They also dropped off near the end of the season last year and there have been some significant changes over the offseason. Just play the games and let the rankings come out at the end of the season. They certainly have the talent and the coaching to be the best, but now you have to prove it.

  3. Everybody should believe in something and I believe I’ll go have a another beer 🙂

    Good for him….and Me

  4. Assuming they actually listen to their coach on game plans they might actually hold teams to 20 pts per game…while they score 6 per game.

  5. Vikings are rebuilding the sunken ship that they abandoned last season. Sad to say that they will be jumping off that ship once again this season…along with all their fans.

  6. He’s probably right. But defense alone won’t get you a SB ring. Need the other side of the ball to get their act together while the defense is still young enough and still playing well together.

  7. I think the ‘Hawks have arguably the best “D” in the league heading into the 2017 season, followed by the Broncos, Pats, “Big Blue,” and either the Texans or Vikes rounding out the top five.

  8. Everyone is entitled to making their own esteem-building predictions. Viking fans have been predicting a first-time hometown SuperBowl winner since going 5-0 last year. They couldn’t help themselves. It doesn’t always work, but they deserve the right to make themselves feel good.

  9. The Pack toasted this defense for 38 points last time they played so I would hold the presses on this headline. As long as they don’t have to play teams like Indy or Green Bay, they will be great. Oh crap, wait…

  10. The Vikings going from 5-0 to 8-8 is because after the 5th game and all of the offensive line injuries, the defense was on the field 40 minutes per game. Of course the defense will slip when they’re tired. They are definitely the top unit. All 3 levels of the D have some of the best in the league. Hunter and Griffen on the line, Kendricks and Barr at LB and Rhodes and Harrison Smith in the secondary.

  11. Wow!! Give them the Lombardi Trophy right now!! No sense playing the season! They had the Lombardi Trophy won last year too, all the way to late September!!
    Memo to Vikings fans — please don’t take this talk to heart and get your hopes up too much, because when it comes to the NFL, every day is “Ground Hog Day” for you and your team.
    I remember the Vikings had a brash rookie NT 8 or 9 years ago who pasted a picture of Brett Favre in his locker. When he was asked by reporters if that was to help him focus on what he was going to do, he answered that it was. He said he was gunning for Favre.
    Brett Favre was told about him and his answer was that he never heard of the guy. He was prophetic because no one else ever did either. He was gone quicker than you can say the Vikings have never won a championship.
    From all Packers fans, tell your team to keep spouting off. It makes it all the more fun when they don’t make the playoffs — again.

  12. Is there a more annoying offseason team than the MN Vikings? The players are as delusional as the fans.

  13. Best D and best completion percentage ever for a QB must add up to what? Another Super Bowl? What’s stinking in Minnesota? Besides everything.

  14. They should be very good. I understand why Tom is so excited though, they’ve been practicing against the Vikings offense. They may look better than they really are. That said, if the the Vikes get a good complement to Linval inside, Barr plays like he gives a damn, and the young guns keep improving, this defense really could be outstanding.

  15. I dont think i would consider that “brash talk “. They have a legit chance. They have so much talent in all 3 phases of their defense. Im an eagles fan so no bias here.

  16. I dont think i would consider that “brash talk “. They have a legit chance. They have so much talent in all 3 phases of their defense. Im an eagles fan so no bias here.

  17. They’re probably pretty good to very good but it doesn’t matter if they don’t even have the discipline to follow their coaches’ instructions.

    Leaving J. Nelson 1:1 explicitly against instruction is a sign that you’re not quite ready for prime time. Talent alone won’t get it done.

    And let’s not act like they’d never seen Jordy or knew how good he was – they knew and decided to not bother anyway. I don’t know why – Jason Sehorn effect I guess but even with evidence to the contrary – they refused to do what the coaches said.

  18. Both yards allowed and points allowed are deficient measures of defensive performance, so I did a little analysis to try to combine the two. I standardized yards allowed and points allowed and summed the scores for each team. A team that gives up a lot fewer points or yards than average has very low standard scores on those measures. The team that had the lowest standard score sum across yards and points was…the world champion New England Patriots (#1 in points, #8 in yards). The Seahawks were second, the Texans were third, the Broncos were fourth, and the Vikings were fifth. Absent any data from this season, that seems like the ranking to go by heading into the year.

    For those interested, the Packers were #22.

  19. Well, if Zim’s players can garner enough respect for him to actually listen and follow his game plans, it would definitely be a step in the right direction.

    With this dysfunctional locker room on the cusp of imploding, it should be interesting watching it twist in the wind this season.

  20. Vikings had 3rd ranked D in the league last year and that is undisputed. It’s better this year. The D didn’t fall off. We lost 11 offensive linemen with 5 different LT’s…..The offense fell off. Defense can only do so much if the offense couldn’t stay on the field.

  21. 3-8 over the last 11 games. Torched by the Packers, Colts and lost 2x to the Lions over that span.

    The trend looks more like they will be lucky to finish 3rd in the division.

  22. “The defense declined significantly”

    Ummm what? They had 6 really bad quarters. Take away the Indy and second GB games and the Vikings defense never gave up more than 26 points. They gave up 21 or less in 11 games and less than 20 in 9 games. This defense is elite, and if it weren’t for an offense that couldn’t stay on the field wearing them down all season, it easily could’ve have finished as the top ranked D in the league. Considering how well it finished in a number of categories, despite those two bad games, it’s really not that difficult to expect similar greatness to what they showed for 14 games last season

  23. Yes I’m a Seahawks fan

    But

    #1 in points allowed 4 straight years, followed by #3 last year

    7 all-pro and pro-bowl perennials together all 5 years – absolutely unheard of

    8 players on defense in NFL top 100 entering this season

    Over that span, Vikings never finished better than 5th, and finished dead last once.

    Gimme a break dude

  24. Vikings defense is good. But not that good. 2016 Ranks:
    3rd in yards allowed per game
    3rd in pass yards allowed per game
    20th in rushing yards allowed per game
    6th in points allowed per game

  25. Oh, how precious.
    Viking players and their dim witted fans proclaiming greatness from August through September.
    It’s as sure as Back to School Sales, pennant races and color changing leaves.
    And when are you dopes going to realize that real Vikings never wore horns!!!

  26. They have the potential to be one of the top defenses. So, they should be aiming to be the best. We will see how things play out, and if the offense can play well enough to keep the defense fresh enough to play well. A tired defense (if your offense stinks) will not be a top defense.

  27. They’re certainly over paying defensive players as if they are great…..let’s see how they do in real games. Spielman should be worried. Are some of the guys on D going to play offense?

  28. Anyone old enough to remember the Purple People Eaters? They were a great defense too, until they got to the Super Bowl. They lost 4 Super Bowls because they couldn’t match up physically with the Chiefs, Dolphins, Steelers and Raiders. They were beaten by scores of 23 to 7, 24 to 7, 16 to 6, and 32 to 14 in those Super Bowls.
    I respected those teams though, because they were a blue collar lunch bucket team. As a Packers fan, I enjoy the rivalry between the two teams and their fans. It’s usurped the rivalry between the Packers and Bears, in my opinion.
    My honest opinion is the Vikings defense is a very good defense, and are better than most defenses in the NFL. I reserve calling a defense “great” for the very best defenses of all time, and this Vikings defense isn’t anywhere close to that yet.
    Their problem is on the other side of the ball. They need Sam Bradford to stay healthy and play like a top tier QB, they need their “O” line to stay healthy and play well, they need to find a running game, and they need their WR’s and TE’s to step it up big time. If they do that, the Vikings can make some noise in the NFC North.
    The good news for them is the Packers defense has a lot of questions to answer on defense and the Lions need to show they are the team which played well the last half of last year and can finally put it all together.
    The Bears are coming, but until they find a QB they are not going to worry the Packers, Lions, or Vikings.
    I think the NFC North will be a dog fight between the Packers and Lions, and the Vikings will finish behind both of them. The Bears will surprise a lot of people this year, but they will finish last in the NFC North. Of course, injuries are the key for everyone. The best teams aren’t always the teams with the most talent, they are the teams which are the healthiest come playoff time.
    Let’s tee it up and see how it all shakes out.

  29. Even if TJ’s statement wasn’t misrepresented in the title, I’m not sure how a DT saying they’re the best equates into Viking fans predicting a Super Bowl win. Guess that’s the Packer way.

    I’m excited for this season. Don’t think Minnesota’s offense will be amazing but if Bradford continues to up his game and everyone is healthy, I’m confident they’ll contend for the playoffs. Not all is rosy, but at least our players have passion. Funny, with the FA signings I thought Tom Johnson might be out. Instead, he’s tearing it up in camp. I’ll take it.

  30. nyneal says:
    August 7, 2017 at 6:34 pm
    Wow!! Give them the Lombardi Trophy right now!! No sense playing the season! They had the Lombardi Trophy won last year too, all the way to late September!!
    Memo to Vikings fans — please don’t take this talk to heart and get your hopes up too much, because when it comes to the NFL, every day is “Ground Hog Day” for you and your team.
    I remember the Vikings had a brash rookie NT 8 or 9 years ago who pasted a picture of Brett Favre in his locker. When he was asked by reporters if that was to help him focus on what he was going to do, he answered that it was. He said he was gunning for Favre.
    Brett Favre was told about him and his answer was that he never heard of the guy. He was prophetic because no one else ever did either. He was gone quicker than you can say the Vikings have never won a championship.
    From all Packers fans, tell your team to keep spouting off. It makes it all the more fun when they don’t make the playoffs — again.

    ////////////
    Just another Viking hater, you look at the Viking defense then look at the pathetic packer defense and I can understand the hate. Ripping on the Vikings is all you can do. Jealousy is a deadly sin. Yes,yes I know you have made the playoffs 100 times in a row. But you’ve been bounced out 100 times in a row. Have fun watching the Vikings go further in the playoffs than the pack

  31. The Vikings should have lots of talent on the defensive side of the ball, they spend TONS of high picks on them, on the flipside they have drafted 2 OLmen since 2010 in the first 3 rounds, one was Matt Kalil and the other is a rookie this year Efflien.

    I am sure the QBs and RBs would greatly appreciate finding more talent and depth at in the trenches in front of them.

  32. I wish they had kept captain but other than that they kept everybody. Tom Johnson is a great player too. They definitely have the talent to play as an elite defense. I wouldn’t say they are better than Denver though. I think they can give Seattle a run for their money but i would still give Seattle the edge.

  33. The Chiefs might not have the best defense, but their defense carries the QB position the furthest.

  34. It’s odd. There’s a team in the NFC North with a perennially poor defense that is run by a defensive coordinator that the team’s fans hate. But every player drafted or on rare occasion, signed in FA is hailed as a solid blue chip player, often in defiance of the people who cover the NFL for a living. These fans also routinely tout their championships, most of which were acquired before the invention of the internal combustion engine. Regardless, with each passing summer, they proclaim across multiple message boards that this year is THE year.

    Yet when a player on a team with a legitimately good defense (5th in 2015, 6th in 2016 according to NFL.com) proclaims that his team’s defense is excellent, the fans of the first team become apoplectic, accusing Viking fans of somehow prematurely proclaiming a championship.

    The reality of course is that the first team’s defense has been terrible and will continue to be terrible due to inept talent evaluation, poor coaching and probably some level of divine distaste for the fan base. Adding insult to injury, this team’s fans know that if they had the Vikings’ defense to pair with the QB that carries their team, they would have several championship trophies that aren’t carved out of stone.

  35. pkrlvr says:

    Is there a more annoying offseason team than the MN Vikings?
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    You don’t have to look very far to find the most annoying team in the offseason, preseason or any season.

    I give you the Green Bay Packers… 😀

  36. Might want to work on your offense then. Having the best D has only worked out twice in the modern era, ’85 Bears & ’00 Ravens.
    Some might argue for the ’16 Broncos but we all knew the league was going to gift another ring to Peyton before he retired.

  37. Seriously, who cares if you’re the “best defense”, “top five”, or any of that other crap. The only thing that matters is winning games, and collecting hats. (for those unfamiliar with winning, players get a free hat and tee shirt for division titles, conference championships, and Super Bowl championships. In New England, they love their “hat and tee shirt” games.)

  38. From a Viking fan, my only response is: Let your play on the field speak for itself. You think you have the #1 defense in the league? Shut up and go out there and prove it.

  39. gtodriver says:
    August 8, 2017 at 8:42 am
    You don’t have to look very far to find the most annoying team in the offseason, preseason or any season.

    I give you the Green Bay Packers…
    /////////////////////////////////////

    Losers hate winners.

  40. notice that the Vikings are working hard…..meanwhile in Turd Bay the team goes bowling instead of practicing…..sad group of defenders I tell you!!!

  41. Frazier28/7 says:
    August 8, 2017 at 10:15 am
    well Stellar, then packer fans should really hate the Patriots.
    ///////////////////////////

    Not likely. Winners respect winners.

  42. As long as the offense scores more points than the defense allows, it really doesn’t matter what the ranking is. See New England Patriots.
    =====

    Top 10 defense 14 seasons since 2001. 6 times in the top 5. Twice each #1 & 2.

    Looks like they win with defense.

  43. karras71 says:
    August 7, 2017 at 9:17 pm
    Oh, how precious.
    Viking players and their dim witted fans proclaiming greatness from August through September.
    It’s as sure as Back to School Sales, pennant races and color changing leaves.
    And when are you dopes going to realize that real Vikings never wore horns!!!
    ______

    Who let this Lions fan in here? This is a team that has one playoff win in the last 60 years. 60! They won more games in the last minute last year than any team in NFL history and still only finished 9-7. You think you’re going to repeat that? They will be 7-9 at best this year.

    Oh, and when are you dopes going to realize that real lions aren’t silver?

  44. jjackwagon says:
    August 8, 2017 at 8:46 am
    Might want to work on your offense then. Having the best D has only worked out twice in the modern era, ’85 Bears & ’00 Ravens.
    Some might argue for the ’16 Broncos but we all knew the league was going to gift another ring to Peyton before he retired.

    ————————–

    I agree they have to improve their offense, no question there. But you forgot about the 2002 Tampa Bay Bucs. Also, nobody gifted Peyton that SB, the Denver defense destroyed and demoralized Cam Newton that day. He wanted to go home by halftime. Denver’s D had 7 sacks and 4 turn overs that day.

  45. Might want to work on your offense then. Having the best D has only worked out twice in the modern era, ’85 Bears & ’00 Ravens.
    =====

    Wrong

    2013 Seahawks were #1 in almost every relevant defensive category
    2003 Patriots
    2016 Patriots
    1996 Packers
    2008 Steelers
    1984 49ers
    1990 Giants
    1982 Redskins

  46. Danielle Hunter will be an opposing teams QB worst nightmare this season.

    So many trolls posting here- slamming what has been said by a couple of exceptional athletes who play on a very, very good Defense. Go back to eating your doughnuts. Come back when you have something to contribute to the conversation.

  47. A quarter of the Seahawks schedule is against the Rams and 49ers offenses. That has help them have the defensive stats they enjoy. The Vikings go against one of the best QB’s in the NFL and M Stafford.

  48. The 20th ranked Vikings have a hapless and tasteless defense that went 3-8 down the stretch last year. They’re quitters, and have no respect for their head coach or his play calling.

  49. Sorry no. The D lost both games to Detroit. The offense provided leads in both games with under 1 min to go. The D let Chicago run and pass all over them the first game and the Packers in game 2 slapped the D around like red headed step children. Win those 2 vs Det 10-6. The vaunted D let the Vikings down last season more than the offense. FACT

  50. finchy74 says:
    August 8, 2017 at 1:43 am
    …………….people who cover the NFL for a living………….

    //////////////////////

    You could’ve stopped right there. Packers are picked #3, by these “people,” not Packer fans.

  51. vikesfansteve says:
    August 8, 2017 at 3:41 pm
    Sorry no. The D lost both games to Detroit. The offense provided leads in both games with under 1 min to go. The D let Chicago run and pass all over them the first game and the Packers in game 2 slapped the D around like red headed step children. Win those 2 vs Det 10-6. The vaunted D let the Vikings down last season more than the offense. FACT
    __________

    That is such a terrible take, I have to respond. The defense wouldn’t have a chance to let the team down if the offense could score any points. In those two Detroit games, the offense scored a total of 29 points. If Blair Walsh made an extra point, they would have won the first Detroit game while scoring only 17 points. They scored 13 points in the second Detroit game and Detroit was put into position to kick the winning field goal because of a Bradford interception.

    Let’s look at the other losses. 20-10 against Chicago, 21-10 against Philadelphia, 17-15 against Dallas. Was the defense or the offense more to blame in those losses?

    How about winning 25-16 against Tennessee thanks to two defensive touchdowns? How about beating Arizona 30-24 because of a defensive touchdown? How about beating Green Bay 17-14?

    There wasn’t a single game last year that was won because of the offense. They only lost one game when the offense scored more than 20 points.

    FACT.

  52. simplec72 says:
    August 7, 2017 at 7:27 pm
    How can any Viking player or fan make a ” best ” prediction when your qb is made out of glass?

    —————————-

    Because those Viking players or fans know that the QB doesn’t play on defense, no matter how tough he is. How did you not know that?

  53. stellarperformance says:

    Losers hate winners.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    That explains why you hate the Vikings so much.

    The Packers have finished behind the Vikings so often since the inception of divisional play in the NFL that you have a permanent inferiority complex.

    Yes, you won the division last year. Get back to me when you win it six times in a row.

  54. teal379 says:
    August 7, 2017 at 7:13 pm
    They’re probably pretty good to very good but it doesn’t matter if they don’t even have the discipline to follow their coaches’ instructions.

    Leaving J. Nelson 1:1 explicitly against instruction is a sign that you’re not quite ready for prime time. Talent alone won’t get it done.

    And let’s not act like they’d never seen Jordy or knew how good he was – they knew and decided to not bother anyway. I don’t know why – Jason Sehorn effect I guess but even with evidence to the contrary – they refused to do what the coaches said.

    ————————-

    It wasn’t that they left Nelson in man coverage, it’s who they left covering Nelson. In the 1st half, Newman. When they switched Rhodes to man coverage on Nelson (Zimmer’s original game plan), he virtually shut him down for the entire 2nd half.

  55. Phantom’s revisionist history.

    Let’s review the games I mentioned based on purely facts that you seem to always ignore.

    FACT

    DET Game 1

    Stafford led the Lions on a marathon 17-play, 84-yard drive that took 9:45 off the clock. He hit Anquan Boldin for a 1-yard score with 5 seconds to play in the half, giving Detroit a 10-3 lead going into halftime.

    Vikings took a 16-13 lead with 23 seconds to play on a 1-yard run by Rhett Ellison. But Stafford hit Andre Roberts for 27 yards to set up Prater’s game-tying kick.

    In overtime, Stafford hit Eric Ebron for 17 yards on third-and-3, Marvin Jones drew a pass interference call on Rhodes and Tate polished off the stunner with a hard-nosed catch-and-run down the sideline.

    ALL D dude.

    GAME 2 VS DET

    After getting the ball at their own 2-yard line with 5:02 remaining, the Lions drove 68 yards to set up Prater’s game-tying, 48-yard field goal.

    BALL ON THE 2, REPEAT BALL ON THE 2

    FACT

    CHI Game 1

    Cutler threw for 252 yards and a touchdown after missing five games with a thumb injury, rookie Jordan Howard ran for a career-high 153 yards and a TD, and the Bears beat the Minnesota Vikings 20-10 on Monday night. Chicago gained 403 Yards.

    Howard had a 69-yard run, the longest for Chicago in seven years. Zach Miller added 88 yards receiving as the Bears stopped a three-game losing streak.

    FACT

    Green Bay game 2

    Aaron Rodgers threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns, Jordy Nelson shredded Minnesota’s secondary for 154 yards.

    Love how you say more than 20 points so you don’t have to count the 20 against the Redskins in a loss.

    I didn’t even mention where the COLTS stomped the D to pieces.

    Andrew Luck threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Robert Turbin rushed for two touchdowns,Frank Gore rushed for 101 yards

    But Luck completed 21 of 28 passes and was barely touched all afternoon, hitting Erik Swoope for a 27-yard touchdown in the second quarter that gave the Colts a 17-0 lead.

    YEAH BEST D IN THE LEAGUE RIGHT THERE.

    COLTS had 21 first downs to the Vikings’ two and held the ball for 23 minutes and 32 seconds to take a 27-0 lead at the half.

  56. And when are you dopes going to realize that real Vikings never wore horns!!!

    ——

    says the fan of team whose emblem is a blue lion!

  57. I swear the same morons post on this site every year. The same useless crap. I hate this site because of all of you. You have got to be the worst fans on either side of the river. I’m a vikings fan and I respect real packer fans. So to all you so called packer and Viking fans on here, show some class.

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