COMMENTARY | When it comes to the Minnesota Vikings' defense, there are several players that come to mind as irreplaceable. Jared Allen helps lead the defensive line to the quarterback while Kevin Williams plugs up the middle. Harrison Smith is a strong last line of defense, playing behind a strong core of linebackers.
Well, that used to be the case.
Since 2006, Chad Greenway has been the leader of the Vikings' linebacking unit. This was a strength of the defense for many years as he teamed with E.J. Henderson to form one of the most effective run-stopping combinations in the National Football League.
Even as the Vikings headed into 2013, there were questions about the linebacking corps. However, Greenway was considered to be a lock no matter who was playing next to him.
As the Vikings enter their third game of the season, it has been Greenway who has lead the linebackers to become one of the most burned units in the NFL.
It's a surprising development for an area that was supposed to be a strength. In many opportunities to make a play, Greenway has been the catalyst in the wrong way in allowing the Detroit Lions' scat backs to run all over them in Week 1 and Martellus Bennett to go wild in a Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears.
The Vikings desperately need the middle of the defense to get on track, and it could happen as soon as this week against the Cleveland Browns.
Greenway is playing next to Erin Henderson and Marvin Mitchell, who are both trying to make adjustments. Henderson is making the switch to middle linebacker where his brother became a star for the Vikings in the late 2000s. Mitchell is also adjusting to being a starting linebacker as Desmond Bishop tries to get his legs underneath him.
Even with the two adjusting to new roles, it all comes back to the former first-round pick to turn the defense around. With Greenway's track record that shouldn't be a problem.
Chris Schad is a lifelong Vikings follower that has seen triumph and heartbreak for the franchise over 27 seasons. His work has also been published on Bleacher Report and Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter @crishad.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Minnesota Vikings
- Chad Greenway
- Jared Allen