How will the Vikings Replace E.J. Henderson?

It was one of the worst looking injuries I’ve ever seen on a football field. It was absolutely Joe Theisman like in it’s severity.. It was Gruesome ! It was horrific !

Did I mention this injury looked bad ?

In the aftermath of it all, E.J. Henderson is looking at a long painful rehab with no guarantee of ever making it back on the football field. I know the doubts that E.J. MUST be feeling right now. As you read this, think of the physical pain he is feeling …….right now !

The frustration of coming all the way back from the dislocated toes injury ( If you’ve seen the pictures of his feet immediately after you will know it was much worse then it sounds.) Only in the last couple of weeks was he getting back to his old form. Then “BAM”.

I’m going to try not to feel sorry for E.J., he’s going to survive and eventually thrive. He is a very tough hombre ! He’s made more money then most of us will ever see in our lifetime. He has the support of friends, family ( did you see his brother, in the cart riding right beside him ? – The genuine look of concern was touching ) and his teammates. If he never plays again, he would make an excellent coach and mentor for younger players. So, this is not about feeling bad for E.J.

No, this is about feeling the loss that has been inflicted on the rest of us. The team, and it’s supporters. How does the team replace such an important cog in the mechanism ?

Simple answer: They can’t !!!

You can Chester Brinkley me to death, but that is simple hyperbole.

Yes, Brinkley is promising. Yes, he hits like a truck. He is terrific against the run. But he’s a rookie coming off a severe knee injury of his own. He is slow footed and a liability in coverage. On the Boyntonian scale for middle linebackers, Henderson is a 93, while Brinkley is a 60.

Coach Childress and Leslie Frasier are going to have to use LB’s Ben Leber and Chad Greenway along with safety Madeau Williams, etc. to support him.

Watch how the Vikings run defense is effected by the loss of Henderson this weekend against the Bengals. We are about to see just how good E.J. really was. Here’s hoping the ripple effect won’t be staggering !

The Vikings will most likely resort to bringing in an extra safety on passing downs. They will probably blitz less, and look for the Bengals to attack the short middle of the defense early and often.

The Vikings may have to counter by dropping one of their defensive linemen into coverage, which will have a negative effect on their pass rush. Corners will be forced to give receivers an extra step for fear of being beaten deep because the QB will have more time to throw. And so on……

Was a major hole opened up on the defense last Sunday evening ? Can Frasier and Co. find a way to plug it? We should get a good glimpse this weekend when the 9-3 Bengals bring their circus act to town.

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