If you watched many Minnesota Vikings games this past season, you would have noticed a trend involving Linval Joseph and the rest of that interior defensive line. After being one of the best defensive tackles at pushing the pocket over the last six seasons, Joseph started finding himself on the sidelines in obvious passing-down situations.
Joseph’s 553 total defensive snaps played in 2019 was his least recorded since his 2015 season. This year, Mike Zimmer started relying on the younger defensive tackles on the Vikings to create pressure which slowly turned Joseph into a two-down run-stopping nose tackle. While he was okay with going along with things has always found joy in doing whatever was asked of him, Joseph enjoys being able to rush the passer as much as anyone.
He considers himself an “athletic nose” in part because he’s played the 0, 1, 3, and even 4-technique before in some defensive fronts.
“With the nose position, those guys really don’t get sacks and only get about 20 or 30 tackles a year,” Joseph says. “I’m the type of person who likes to chase the ball and help the team out any way I can.”
While the Chargers drafted Jerry Tillery in last year’s first round to be the answer for their lack of pressure up the middle, Joseph hopes he can provide that necessity while playing in between the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. At the time of the signing however, that’s not what the majority of the fans thought about when the team signed Joseph last month. Due to his advanced age, most saw him replacing the role that Brandon Mebane held over the last few years, which was to absorb double-teams and not give up ground. According to Joseph, that’s not necessarily the case with him.
“They’re saying just be ready to pin your ears back and get after that quarterback. I’m very excited about that. My whole career, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to do that, and I finally got the OK that that’s what I’m going to be doing more than just being an absorber. I’m excited to put my hand down and kick my foot back and get off the ball I used to do in college.”
I’m not sure what what the fan consensus is on this situation, but I think i’d be fairly content with Joseph getting that opportunity. I mean, drafting Tillery and Justin Jones was solely meant to fill the need for interior pressure but if Joseph can do any better in 2020 than those two did in 2019, I think this defense will be just fine.
For some context, if you guys haven’t heard, Joseph is no where near a slough athletically. He ran a 5.06 forty-yard dash at 330+ pounds and has that rare mentality for a defensive tackle to run sideline to sideline in order to make a tackle.
Whatever the future holds for Joseph and his time with the Chargers, he’s going to leave an impression in some way, shape, or form before he leaves. Those lasting residuals are something I’m definitely looking forward to seeing for years to come.