Games

The Vikings defense is a nightmare for QBs thanks to Danielle Hunter

Like a lot of individuals, I spent the week of Halloween watching scary films and TV exhibits.

Why did watching Danielle Hunter’s movie give me Pretzel Jack* flashbacks?

Nicely, he does have these lengthy ass arms, kinda like Pretzel Jack. Hunter additionally shows the type of stability that appears to defy gravity … kinda like Pretzel Jack. He additionally seems to be one thing of a contortionist himself, shifting his physique at all types of strange angles so he can squeeze by way of the tiniest of cracks to sack the quarterback … additionally like Pretzel Jack. Hunter and Pretzel Jack are each scary AF once they’re doing their factor, in order that they have that in widespread as properly.

Oh yeah, so it’s official, Vikings defensive finish Danielle Hunter is the Pretzel Jack of Move Rushers.

And he introduced a full tank of nightmare gasoline to the sport with him final Sunday.

After he torched them for 4 sacks, six different tackles, a landing and a strain, the Lions offensive line is in all probability nonetheless waking up in chilly sweats.

It’s all the time enjoyable to watch Hunter on movie regardless of how productive he is. You’re speaking about a man who, at 6’5 and a little over 250 kilos, with barely an oz of physique fats on him, makes the All-Bus staff. For those who have been making an attempt to constructing a perfect edge rusher from scratch you couldn’t provide you with a a lot better mixture of peak, energy, size, athletic potential and method that you simply get with Hunter.

On prime of all that, he additionally has a motor that simply gained’t give up.

He overwhelms blockers not simply because he is so rattling expert, but in addition as a result of he is so ridiculously relentless. If his opponent relaxes for even a second, greater than probably he’ll out effort them and make them pay dearly. Y’all know I’m a sucker for a man who hustles his ass off, anyway, however with Hunter it’s much more spectacular to me as a result of he is so rattling good most individuals would in all probability let a loaf or two slide right here or there from him.

But when he’s on the sector, he’s hauling ass, and that’s what I like to see!

The worth of hustle

Simply to illustrate my level, the primary play of Hunter’s that I would like to concentrate on in all probability wouldn’t look all that spectacular on paper. Positive, he was credited with a deal with, however it was on a play that gained Eight yards. What was so spectacular about this play was one thing that you’ve to truly see to respect, Hunter’s hustle.

At 6:32 of the primary quarter, the Lions have been making an attempt to get one among their large receivers, Kenny Golladay, out in area on a jet sweep the place he might stress the Vikings defense horizontally. Hunter was the left defensive finish, lined up to the aspect the place Golladay was headed. He had two Detroit tight ends lined up proper throughout from him.

Levine Toilolo was the stud tight finish on the road of scrimmage in a three level stance to the surface of the proper deal with, Ricky Wagner. Luke Willson was lined up outdoors of Toilolo and simply off the road as a wing. Hunter was head up on Toilolo and cheated down inside him simply earlier than the ball was snapped.

Now with a jet/fly sweep, the thought is to give the ball to the offensive participant coming throughout the formation whereas they’re build up a head of steam in order that they will get to and across the edge defender to the aspect they’re headed, earlier than that edge defender can react and check out to have an effect on the play. That’s why neither Toilolo nor Willson truly tried to block Hunter, heading outdoors to be lead blockers for Golladay as an alternative.

The proven fact that Hunter cheated inside earlier than the snap ought to have made it even simpler for Golladay to get round him. And Golladay did zoom proper round Hunter so quick that there wasn’t a lot that Hunter might do however watch him run by … at first.

More often than not as soon as the man operating that sweep is previous that edge defender, they don’t often have to fear about him being concerned within the play anymore. It’s usually simply too arduous for that edge man to get off the ball, acknowledge the play, stick his foot within the floor, change instructions after which flip and dash down the sector shortly sufficient that they will catch up to the runner.

However most edge rushers aren’t Danielle Hunter.

As soon as he noticed Golladay cross his face, Hunter didn’t hesitate even for an on the spot earlier than he had modified instructions and was in scorching pursuit. He acquired some assist from his teammate, linebacker Ben Gedeon, who did a good job of taking over Willson and forcing Golladay to reduce up the sector a little sooner than he had deliberate. After that it was all about Hunter’s effort, giving all the things he had to chase Golladay down from behind and restrict him to an Eight-yard achieve.

No, it wasn’t what most people would usually consider as a “big play,” however simply to see a man like Hunter, one of many league’s premier gamers, giving each ounce of effort he had to chase down a receiver from behind on a random first down play, did this previous defensive lineman’s coronary heart some good.

Hunter has clearly been blessed with pure presents and skills, and he has labored his ass off to develop into nice together with his method as properly. However what stands proud to me each week on movie is how loopy his effort degree is. The man’s motor simply gained’t give up!

Some people are keen on reciting the quote “hard work beats talent” with out including the second half “when talent doesn’t work hard,” however let me inform you one thing buddy, when somebody as gifted as Hunter busts his ass each play, too?

Pay attention.

Pay attention.

No transfer can cease Hunter

However I do know, I do know … you need to speak concerning the sacks, so let’s get into them.

With a little over six minutes left within the first half Detroit had matriculated the soccer all the best way down to the Minnesota 12-yard line, after having began the drive already in good area place from the Vikings’ 44.

Hunter was as soon as once more lined up because the left defensive finish throughout from Wagner.

The largest drawback Hunter presents as a move rusher to tackles on any given play is that he can do all of it. He has a actually good get off, greater than sufficient velocity to flip the nook, however sufficient energy to be a very efficient energy rusher. He additionally has the type of athleticism often reserved for talent positions which may make his counter strikes devastatingly efficient.

What meaning is there is no specific transfer a deal with can set for with Hunter and nonetheless not run the danger of being flawed. Set for energy, and right here comes velocity. Set for velocity, and right here comes energy. Or, on this specific case, they could set for velocity, and as an alternative get hit with inside transfer so fast that their response makes it appear to be you’re doing the shoot dance.

Chilly world, bruh.

Hunter took 4 lengthy, onerous steps upfield which pressured Wagner to go forward and bail out of his stance a bit. As soon as Hunter truly received inside arm’s size, which for him is additional away than for most individuals, Hunter shot his arms at Wagner’s chest like he was preparing to hit him with some energy. As an alternative, when Wagner stopped his ft to attempt to brace for Hunter’s punch, Hunter took benefit and slipped proper by him with an arm over inside.

Hunter caught his outdoors foot within the floor whereas swatting Wagner’s inside arm together with his inside arm, and completed the transfer by stepping inside to the B hole and swimming excessive of Wagner’s head together with his outdoors arm.

Hunter beat him so cleanly that each one Wagner might do was futilely attempt to deal with Hunter across the waist whereas he continued on to the quarterback. One way or the other that blatant maintain didn’t get referred to as, however it didn’t matter, as a result of Hunter was nonetheless in a position to attain out and take Stafford down.

It was a Three-yard loss on that play.

Hunter sacked him once more on the subsequent play, too, for a lack of one other yard. The second of the 2 sacks got here on third down and compelled the Lions to settle for a subject aim. It additionally got here on a busted display play, so I didn’t really feel prefer it was value analyzing.

In addition to, there have been loads of different spectacular performs that Hunter made on Sunday which might be far more fascinating to speak about.

As an example …

There is all the time a approach

Someplace across the six-minute mark of every quarter was the candy spot for Hunter on Sunday. Within the third quarter he collected his third sack of the sport with 6:25 on the clock.

He was again at left defensive finish in a six-technique once more. This time he was lined up throughout from third-string tight finish, Michael Roberts. Roberts appeared to be in that place to attempt to distract Hunter as he went out into his route, regardless that he didn’t truly chip him on that play.

From that standpoint, lining up Roberts throughout from Hunter was truly a success, even when he was solely distracted for a second. The drawback is that Hunter’s such a bodily freak with such good method, he doesn’t really need a good get off to beat a blocker.

Hell, getting Hunter to hesitate for a millisecond truly appeared to put Wagner in a bind greater than Hunter. Wagner appeared not sure as to whether or not he ought to attempt to be aggressive with Hunter after Robinson slowed him down or if he ought to sit again and wait for Hunter to come to him.

Wagner ended up sort of compromising and doing a little bit of each. He held again and waited on Hunter to come to him, however he additionally stored his weight ahead on his toes so he could possibly be prepared to sit down on a energy transfer simply in case Hunter was about that motion.

What he wasn’t ready for was the best way Hunter set him up, then went sideways as an alternative.

As an alternative of making an attempt to simply run proper round Wagner, or proper over him, Hunter did a sluggish stutter step together with his arms down, showing to expose his chest to Wagner. I’m positive it seemed so inviting to Wagner, like a completely grilled steak to a ravenous man. The thought of having the ability to punch Hunter proper in his photo voltaic plexus with all of the drive he might muster had to be simply too good of a chance to move up.

Sadly for Wagner, there was a banana in that tailpipe.

Hunter needed Wagner to attempt to punch him within the chest as a result of he knew that might give him a probability swipe Wagner’s arms and knock them out of the best way. He was in a position to Wagner’s swat forearms with precision, and that stored Wagner from having the ability to getting his palms on him to seize him. Hunter swiped another time, then he got here by means of with a massive rip transfer together with his inside arm. Wagner’s goose was nearly as good as cooked. There was merely no means he was going to meet up with Hunter.

The factor that made this move rush much more spectacular to me was the truth that Stafford didn’t take a deep drop again on that play. He actually couldn’t because the Lions have been on their very own 13-yard line, anyway. Stafford stopped to pump like he was going to throw to his left after dropping again 7 yards. By the point Hunter truly acquired to him, Stafford was truly within the strategy of stepping up to the place he was simply 6 yards from the unique line of scrimmage.

Hunter nonetheless discovered a means to take him down.

It is arduous to clarify how troublesome it is to flip a nook at that depth as a move rusher, however I can promise you that your favourite edge rusher has a onerous time doing it even when there isn’t anyone outdoors of the deal with, not to mention after a tight finish has momentarily distracted them. For Hunter to transition from coming off the ball sluggish at first, then turning his hips again in the direction of Wagner and nonetheless get into a transfer beat him with such a tight nook?

Fairly rattling unimaginable.

In equity this was considerably of a protection sack since, properly, everyone was just about coated. What I may also level out, nevertheless, is that by the point Hunter was truly taking Stafford down, the opposite three defense linemen within the recreation have been on the opposite aspect of the middle. One among them, Linval Joseph, truly had his again turned to the quarterback and was operating down area the place he thought the ball had already been thrown.

I say all that to say, good protection or not, if Hunter hadn’t been in a position to shut in so shortly and deal with him on that play earlier than he might actually step up within the pocket, Stafford had a ton of inexperienced grass proper in entrance of him to decide up some yards together with his legs. As an alternative he took a Four-yard loss on first down that threw the Lions off schedule they usually ended up punting three performs later.

Nice issues come to those that hustle

The final play I would like to speak about showcased every thing I really like about watching Hunter play the sport of soccer. Sure, I’m speaking concerning the landing he scored with a little over seven minutes left within the recreation, however the landing was simply the top results of all the opposite work he had already put in on that play.

As soon as once more he was lined up because the left defensive finish throughout from Wagner, however by the fourth quarter I assume Detroit was uninterested in seeing Wagner getting roasted, so that they had their rookie operating again, Kerryon Johnson, offset to his aspect to assist the large man out with a chip block.

Higher late than by no means, I assume.

Hunter obtained off the ball and was screaming up the sector making an attempt to beat Wagner across the edge once more, when right here got here Johnson making an attempt to sneak him simply as Hunter was beginning to peek across the nook. However did Hunter let one thing like a measly chip block sluggish him down?

Yeah, okay, perhaps a little, however not a lot!

As soon as Hunter felt Johnson hitting him, he paused briefly to re-evaluate his state of affairs, however then he transitioned to an inside spin transfer that was so fluid that it seemed as if he had been planning to do one all alongside. His teammate Jaleel Johnson was already proscribing the pocket after having looped round to the other B hole, and Stafford was undoubtedly feeling the warmth by that point within the recreation. As soon as Hunter completed his spin transfer on Wagner, he was proper on the degree of the quarterback and in good place to take Stafford down, however he wasn’t fairly in a position to hold maintain of him after he reached out and grabbed Stafford’s jersey.

As Stafford pulled away and began to scramble downfield, Hunter might have simply shut it down and left it for his teammates to make the deal with. In any case, he had already crushed two guys to get to Stafford, and it was his strain that pressured him out of the pocket within the first place.

However Hunter merely isn’t made that approach.

If something, Stafford slipping out of his grasp and avoiding one other sack appeared to make Hunter much more decided to hawk him down from behind. His hustle was rewarded when Stafford had certainly one of his patented mind farts and for no good purpose in any respect determined to attempt to pitch the ball again to Johnson who was trailing him at that time. They have been method too shut when Stafford tried that goofy shit, and the ball predictably ended up on the turf.

I all the time say that good issues come to those that hustle and this play was the right instance of that. Hunter had no cause to consider that he would truly have the ability to catch up to Stafford in time to deal with him. He definitely couldn’t have recognized on the time that Stafford would make such a boneheaded play earlier than it was all stated and executed. However he hauled ass after him anyway as a result of that’s all he is aware of how to do.

Due to his hustle, as an alternative of getting to fall on the ball, or there being a mad scramble the place Detroit might have recovered it, Hunter was in good place to calmly decide the ball up and home it untouched to the top zone. It’s value remembering that regardless of the ultimate rating which makes it seem like the sport was a a blowout, the Vikings have been solely up 9 factors earlier than that play. One good drive and it might have been a one rating recreation that went down to the wire. Hunter’s hustle play went forward and put Detroit’s comeback goals to mattress like Zzzquil, nevertheless.


You don’t earn a stat line like Hunter’s on Sunday accidentally, that a lot is for sure. Perhaps the 4 sacks by themselves might have been flukes, or perhaps simply the six tackles might have had some luck concerned. Perhaps even the landing, by itself, might have been the ball simply bouncing his approach. However to accomplish all of these issues in the identical recreation was indicative of the truth that that Hunter was enjoying on a entire different degree on Sunday.

He is now the league chief in sacks with 11.5, however I feel they could give him a full sack as an alternative of the half that they had him sharing with Everson Griffen which might push him up to 12 on the yr. In the event that they do, that may put him simply a half a sack off his profession excessive after solely 9 video games.

He additionally vaulted himself proper again into the center of the Defensive Participant Of The Yr dialog. It nonetheless could also be Aaron Donald’s title to lose, however Hunter has additionally been kicking ass all yr, even after he misplaced his fellow bookend for a few weeks. However we will debate the DPOY voting on the finish of the season.

Within the meantime, Danielle Hunter was so dominant towards Detroit that he made my job this week straightforward. After that monster recreation it is my pleasure to award him my Hoss Of The Week honors for Week 9 of the 2018 NFL season.

*Pretzel Jack is a character on the present season of Channel Zero, should you didn’t already know. And in the event you didn’t know, you actually may need to verify that present out. It’s dope.