Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
Much of the blame for the Minnesota Vikings 8-8 season fell on the team's offensive line; And deservedly so. The offensive line was a turnstile at times, allowing defenders to break up the run game while giving them free runs at times to hit quarterback Sam Bradford, and hit him hard.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer spoke with our guy Paul Allen Thursday at the NFL Combine and was quick to point out that while the team will look to upgrade their offensive line, either through the draft or free agency, they don't want to weaken other areas of their team by focusing solely on the front five.
"Let me first say this, it's not just about the offensive line," Zimmer told Allen when asked how Minnesota planned to improve their O-line this offseason. "We don't want to take our defense, which is a strength, and make it a weakness by putting all our resources into the offense. We want to make sure that we're diligent about trying to improve this football team."
The Vikings defense was very good last season, ranking third in the NFL in yards allowed per game. But the defense does have a lot of key players that are either facing free agency or will be facing free agency in the next year or two, and how to fill potential voids from some of those departures is a good thing for the team to keep in mind.
While making sure that the team's strength remains a strength is nice, the hard reality is this: If the Vikings don't improve the offensive line, they will not be true Super Bowl contenders.
Zimmer understands this and said it will be addressed in the offseason, but will be addressed carefully.
"Free agency, not only on the offensive line, but that's an important way to fill your holes," Zimmer said. "And then through the Draft, and one of the important things I'm figuring out here - a lot more in this combine - in talking with other coaches, is player development. How can we develop these players better than what we have been?"
The Vikings head coach continued to note the positions that take the longest to develop from the college game to the pro game and that includes offensive linemen, cornerbacks and quarterbacks.
Changing the way in which the team develops players could include such things as additional practice time or working on very specific things, particularly for those aforementioned positions.
"It's a different game for the cornerbacks and offensive linemen. The player development in those two positions is so much more important," Zimmer said. "Linebackers are linebackers. Defensive line, that's basically the same. In those two positions (cornerback and offensive line) the rules of the game and the way the game is played is so different than in the NFL."
It sounds as though Zimmer may not be sold on using their first choice in the upcoming draft on an offensive lineman and more inclined to improve the unit through free agency. Only time will tell though and with just one week left until free agency begins, we'll likely see things happening sooner rather than later.