Unsung Hero: Armon Watts
Though it’s easy to miss, Armon Watts played well for the Minnesota Vikings in Week 9. Dalvin Cook was continuing his MVP-level play. Eric Kendricks, Eric Wilson, and Harrison Smith each had an interception. It makes sense that these players are receiving plenty of attention. Nevertheless, Watts has been a crucial component of Minnesota’s recent success.
Minnesota Vikings DT Armon Watts
Over the past four weeks, Watts has played really well, as PFF notes. Mike Zimmer feels confident using Watts as both a 1-technique and 3-technique. He demonstrates good power against the run and good quickness against the pass. Keep in mind that Watts is a sophomore who was chosen in the sixth round.
With less than three minutes in the second quarter of the Detroit game, Watts made back-to-back plays against the run. On first down, Watts was stout on the line of scrimmage, limiting D’Andre Swift to a two-yard gain. On second down, Watts got into the backfield, forcing Swift to bounce outside. Swift was held to another 2-yard gain. A defensive tackle who can shut down the run will always have a spot in Mike Zimmer’s defense.
In the fourth quarter, Watts demonstrated some great ability as a pass rusher. He did a nice job of getting skinny and using his hands to shed blocks. The result was a few pressures before getting in on the sack on Matthew Stafford. One could easily envision a D.J. Wonnum – Ifeadi Odenigbo – Watts – Danielle Hunter defensive line creating lots of problems on passing downs next season.
The Minnesota Vikings need Armon Watts to continue his strong play. They’re primarily relying on a three-man rotation of Watts, Shamar Stephen, and Jaleel Johnson. After these three, the Vikings don’t have too much right now. During the offseason, coaches praised Watts’ power, quickness, and balance. These traits have been evident over the past handful of weeks.
The Vikings struggle against the Chicago Bears, especially on the road. Expect Kirk Cousins, Cook, and the rest of the Vikings’ offense to have a difficult time moving the ball. To be successful, then, the defense must hold strong. Getting continued exemplary play from Armon Watts will go a long way in helping the Minnesota Vikings secure their third-straight divisional game.