The Minnesota Vikings have not performed well defensively through the first two games of the season, allowing 58 combined offensive points and over 400 yards of offense to both the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears.
The dismal play of the linebackers has particularly stood out, and allowing 20 receptions to opposing running backs in the first two games serves as direct evidence of how poorly the group has played. Reggie Bush’s 77-yard catch and run for a touchdown in Week 1 was a bit of a fluky play, but it does serve as the most obvious symptom of a weakness in Minnesota’s pass coverage that future opponents will continue to try to exploit.
Desmond Bishop was released by the Green Bay Packers in June after missing the 2012 season with a torn hamstring, and the Vikings signed him a week later to help bolster a group of linebackers that needed more talent. He suffered a groin pull in the preseason opener, but played well through the rest of the preseason despite not winning a starting job.
Bishop did not play at all against the Lions, and made his regular season debut Sunday against Chicago. But he did not play a lot, with Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway manning the two linebacker spots in the Vikings’ nickel defense.
If Bishop is healthy, and there are no indications he isn’t, the play of the other linebackers to this point should not be keeping him off the field. Greenway is the only exception, since he is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons and is the most established linebacker the Vikings have. The main reason for Bishop not playing may be his grasp, or lack thereof, of the team’s defensive scheme, but that seems to be a flimsy reason given how the defense has mostly looked through two games.
Until Bishop is actually on the field more, or an indication is given that he is injured, it may remain a mystery why he is not playing more. But I do have some faith that defensive coordinator Alan Williams, with some possible encouragement from head coach Leslie Frazier, will make some changes to how he deploys his personnel if all things are equal.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.