If you were to ask around the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings were just asking for it.
The Vikings plugged up a huge, gaping hole in the middle of their defense by signing notorious ruffian and big man defensive tackle Linval Joseph in the opening hours of free agency. Joseph, a five year veteran our of East Carolina, was a pile driver for the New York Giants for the last four years, double teaming anything in sight and hungrily pressing his gratuitous body against guys with balls, tackling them to the ground with no remorse.
It is safe to say that the Vikings have certainly filled a generous maw in the middle of their defense, and will be looking to continue the success of this signing trend by punishing others when the season starts.
Ever since the Vikings let Pat Williams go, there has been a hungry urge to fill the opening slit caused by his withdrawal. Many men have tried to replace the girth that was Pat Williams, yet few were able to reward a fan base as ravenous for a defense that satisfies instead of just a group of 11 guys standing around playing with each other.
Linval Joseph may just be that guy to fill the empty hole; right in the center of the defense and the backside of the fans who have turned their back on this team. Joseph is a big guy. Hailing from St. Croix, US "Virgin" Islands, Joseph is listed at 6'4", 328, with probably 250 of those pounds coming from just below the waist. With the loss so far in free agency of Jared Allen and likely Kevin Williams, the Vikings needed to find a becoming-defensive presence in the sweaty mash up of 22 grabby-guys on the field, and Joseph may just be that man.
Ask new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, and he'll tell you a memorable defense is built front to back, bottom to top. You need some slippery guys in the front of your defense, people who will keep control of their gaps, and fill holes where needed, allowing the other defensive players to roam the field, looking for opportunities to penetrate the offensive game plan. When you have a guy like Joseph filling one (sometimes two!) of those gaps up front, it frees another man up behind him (but sometimes on top, or side-by-side, it's really just a preference thing) to track down where the ball is and grab onto that thing with all his might. Who knows, it may even allow a freed up defender to surprise someone from behind.
Overall, the Joseph signing is a gratifying one. In a flurry of free agent moves to open the NFL year, it is certainly one that came upon people quickly, catching them off guard. Many may have felt that the Vikings had blown their load by coming with Joseph to a contractual agreement, and they certainly may have. However, with a large amount of cap space to spread around, the Vikings do have a bit of room to play with some things, be patient, regain their electrolytes after an exhilarating day, and maybe make a splash on a cornerback later in the free agency period. You know, after the flow of concussion blood-money has stopped a little. (Period joke.)