How can the Minnesota Vikings solve their problems on defense in 2021?
It was an uncharacteristically bad year for the Minnesota Vikings from a defensive standpoint in 2020. This has always been the pride of Mike Zimmer during his time at the helm. But there was a clear regression across all areas that played a leading role in the Vikings missing out on playoff football last season.
Nobody was more infuriated by this than Zimmer, who has a reputation for being a defensive-minded coach with a huge say in the scheme Minnesota runs.
He was highly critical of himself and the group both during and after the 2020 campaign, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock in the world to see some major changes to personnel in the coming weeks.
This downturn was something many projected after the departure of so many established veterans during the previous offseason. The likes of Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Linval Joseph all parted ways for differing reasons, with the Vikings also losing Danielle Hunter to a season-ending neck injury to further complicate matters.
There is a lot on the line for Zimmer in 2021 despite just signing a new deal with the Vikings. Let’s take a look at some ways the head coach can get Minnesota back to their old selves on defense next season.
Way No. 1
Find a slot cornerback
Not being able to re-sign Mackensie Alexander is something that came back to haunt the Vikings in 2020. The cornerback was hugely productive covering from the slot in 2019, but he decided to take his chances with the Cincinnati Bengals last season instead, which left a hole Zimmer couldn’t fill with the same level of consistency.
Minnesota does have a promising corner duo on the outside in Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler, who both showed some tremendous promise during their rookie campaigns. However, the likes of Mike Hughes, Chris Jones, and Holton Hill just weren’t up to the required standard in no uncertain terms last season.
Whether a nickel corner comes from free agency or the 2021 NFL Draft is irrelevant at this juncture. The Vikings have to get better in this critical area and it should be one of their top priorities this offseason.