2020 was a rough year for the Minnesota Vikings, especially on the defensive side of the ball. For a Mike Zimmer led team it was rather odd, as the Vikings ranked 27th in total yards allowed and 29th in total points allowed.
Thankfully for Vikings fans, and pretty much the rest of the world, 2020 is now in the rear-view mirror. Things are starting to get back to normal and that includes a ton of hype circulating around the new look Vikings defense.
It was clear that the Vikings knew their defense wasn’t good enough last season, as the majority of their free agency dollars and draft capital were used to repair the unit.
The Vikings had players like Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter miss a lot of, if not all the 2020 season. They also had their biggest free agency addition in Michael Pierce opt out for the entirety of the year.
On top of getting back a handful of veterans that had injuries or opted out due to COVID-19, the Vikings added several key players through free agency. In an attempt to shore up the defense they brought in Patrick Peterson, Dalvin Tomlinson, Mackensie Alexander, Xavier Woods, Nick Vigil and Bashaud Breeland.
Starting up front, the Vikings knew they had to do something about their 27th ranked rushing defense. Pierce and Tomlinson will create havoc on the interior of the defensive line, allowing Barr and Kendricks to get cleaner shots at opposing running backs.
In the secondary the team also struggled last season, but the lack of pass rush hurt a unit that was starting a couple rookie cornerbacks. The cornerback room got some much-needed veteran leadership in Peterson and Breeland and have a candidate for a breakout player in Cameron Dantzler.
Just listing the newly found cornerback depth should have Vikings fans excited, but the Woods addition gives the team a ball hawk safety that can create turnovers. Harrison Smith has been so good for so long, so it seems as if the secondary will turn into a strong suit for Zimmer again in 2021.
The number of players brought in through free agency allowed the Vikings to add depth to their defense throughout the draft. It also gave them the ability to draft a backup quarterback in Kellen Mond and two potential starting offensive lineman in Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis.
After a weird season in 2020, the NFL announced that they expect full stadiums again in 2021. The amount of resources spent on the defense this offseason will help reboot a unit that struggled a year ago but having a packed U.S. Bank Stadium should also help get the juices flowing on that side of the ball.
It’s worth noting that the Danielle Hunter situation could certainly play a factor in the excitement level of this defense moving forward, but we’ll know more on that situation next week when mandatory minicamp begins.
As it sits right now it’s safe to say that the Vikings defense is poised for a breakout season in 2021. Zimmer finally has the pieces in play on his defense to support the style of offense this team has played over the last three seasons. If the offense continues to shine like it did in 2020, and the defense does indeed bounce back, Vikings fans could be in for an extremely fun season.
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