Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said late in the regular season that the team’s defense was the worst that he’d ever coached and the seeds for the unit’s struggles were planted in the offseason.
The Vikings parted ways with a number of veteran defenders, including defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, and three cornerbacks who were regulars in the lineup. The team expressed confidence that they would be strong defensively despite the departures, but head coach Mike Zimmer said on Tuesday that it was misplaced.
“I probably miscalculated some things going into the season when we lost all the guys that we lost the year before,” Zimmer said, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “We had a complete overhaul on defense, and sometimes that happens when you get to Year 7.”
Rebuilding a defense without in-person offseason work was always going to be a difficult task. It was made all the more difficult by defensive tackle Michael Pierce opting out, defensive end Danielle Hunter missing the entire season, and linebacker Anthony Barr missing 14 games.
Zimmer said getting those players back should “improve us automatically,” but there’s other work that will need to be done to make sure the defense is more capable in 2021.