Everson Griffen is in the midst of an eight-game sack streak, dating back to the Minnesota Vikings’ first game of the year. How long can he keep it going?
Everson Griffen has been on an absolute tear. After signing a huge four-year, $58 million extension in the offseason, the star defensive end has started this season with eight straight games of sacks for a total of 10 on the year. Altogether, he’s arguably the top defensive end in the game right now. At least, he’s in the conversation.
Most impressively, only two other players have EVER started a season with sacks in eight straight games. Those players are former Indianapolis Colts teammates Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. In all likelihood, Hall of Fame worthy company.
This begs the question: How long can Griffen sustain this historic streak?
In reality, there’s likely a time when it comes to an end. I mean, sacks aren’t an easy commodity to get, especially when going up against the opposing team’s left tackle. In a perfect world, a team’s left tackle is their best player on the offensive line, protecting the blindside of most quarterbacks. While that’s not always the case, I’d argue it is more often than not. With this in mind, Griffen’s streak looks even better given the unlikely odds of it.
Additionally, the Vikings captain benefits from an elite cast of players around him. Against the Cleveland Browns in Week 8, he may not have extended his streak if it weren’t for pressure created by safety Harrison Smith off the blitz. Even so, a sack is a sack and regardless of who’s around him, the streak is quite impressive.
Before predicting how long Griffen can maintain this streak though, let’s take a look at the potential matchups he’ll face the rest of the way.
|Potential Matchups for Everson Griffen
|Trent Williams/Ty Nsekhe/T.J. Clemmings
|Charles Leno Jr.
As you can see, this weekend’s matchup is tough to get a read on at this point. Over the past couple of weeks, formal Vikings tackle T.J. Clemmings has started for the Washington Redskins with Trent Williams and Ty Nsekhe down with injuries. Thus far, Nsekhe has been a limited participant in practice and Trent Williams returned on a limited basis Friday. So, odds look in the Redskins favor this time around, considering Clemmings is down right awful.
Regardless, I like Griffen’s chances given Williams and Nsekhe wouldn’t be 100 percent. If he draws a matchup against Clemmings, then yeah, you may as well chalk up a sack for Griffen already.
After the Redskins, Griffen runs into a tough three-game stretch of potential matchups. The only questionable one is against the Lions, but all indications point towards Taylor Decker returning by then. Realistically, Griffen’s streak could end facing Andrew Whitworth, but I also see the home crowd helping the defensive end get past Whitworth at least once. Then, Decker and Jake Matthews, former first round picks, present challenges themselves.
If Griffen were to make it through that stretch, he likely faces Matt Kalil and Cedric Ogbuehi, who rank 66th and 65th among tackles respectively, according to Pro Football Focus. We all know Kalil well from his days with the Vikings and how pass protection has been an issue for him since his rookie year. As for Ogbuehi, he’s a 2015 first round pick who’s looked like a bust through a couple of seasons. If it weren’t for injuries and a weak line unit overall, he’d be far down the Cincinnati Bengals’ depth chart.
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To finish, Griffen sees David Bakhtiari who is one of the top tackles in the game when healthy. In the Vikings first showdown with the Packers, Bakhtiari exited early with a hamstring injury that now looks behind him. He’s ranked first among tackles by PFF, so if he’s ready to go in Week 16, he’s probably the toughest test for Griffen. Next, he’ll have Charles Leno Jr., who’s been solid for the Chicago Bears, but mightily struggled in Week 5 against the Vikings defensive end.
Overall, Griffen sees some tough tests down the stretch, but as one of the game’s best defensive ends, there’s no reason to think he can’t win a majority, if not all. As far as his sack streak goes, I see Week 12 against the Lions being the end point if Decker is indeed healthy and ready to go. If not, this streak could very well hold strong until Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers.
Ultimately, I hope Griffen comes away with a sack in each game the rest of the way as unlikely as that may be. In the process, he’d likely come close to breaking Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record of 22.5, although he could come away with that total with a big second half overall. No matter what happens in the last half of the year though, the Vikings are surely fortunate to have an edge rusher and leader like Griffen on this team. Skol Vikes!