Feel that bulge in your pants? Yup, football is back! And before you pass out from all the blood rushing out of your head and into that saucy spot between your thighs, let’s take a deep breath and get you prepared for the season. As training camp opens for the Minnesota Vikings this Friday, we’re running through some of the BIG SPORTS TAKES on both sides of the ball leading up to camp. Yesterday we asked ourselves what the top 5 biggest questions were for the Vikings on the offensive side of the ball. But guess what? Despite how horrendous that offense looks, they are actually the least of our concerns. Because today, we talk defense! Let’s get to it.
1. Oh God, Do We Have To?
Yes, we have to talk about the defense, because I can’t reiterate enough just how awful they were last year. The Vikings gave up the most total points to opposing teams out of any team in the league last year; 480. I’d guess a solid half of those came during the final 2:00 minutes of the game. They also gave up the second most yards per game, most points per game, second most yards per game in passing, but were only 17th worst in yards per game in rushing. Moral victories! Point being, this defense is f*cking AWFUL, and needs to be improved from top down. I don’t care if our offense is good to mediocre as they are predicted to be with a rookie quarterback … If this defense continues to perform as such, we’re in for a world of hurt. But that’s where this dude comes in …
2. How Impactful Will Zimmer Be?
Oh my god, he’s going to be as impactful as KY Jelly on a winter’s evening. Zimmer is a defensive guy, and has already been seen turning good players great (see: coaching up Xavier Rhodes). The real question is, can he turn crap players into middling players that don’t give up game winning touchdowns. If he can, he’d have been at least 9-7 with our turd sandwich squad last year. What I’m most excited about with Zimmer is his relentless approach (he won’t go Prevent defense with two minutes left against Aaron Rodgers), and his flexibility in scheme. He’s shown a history of adopting his defensive attack to whatever his personnel offers, basically, not trying to force players into positions they can’t play. That means we’re like to see some crazy schemes, mis-matches, and players running wild and destroying people, which is exactly what we need in our defense. That has potential to make my underwear soggy.
3. Will Our New Defensive Line Perform?
But that’s not to say there aren’t some challenges for Zimmer. He has mostly an entire new defensive line to work with this year. Brian Robison and Everson Griffen are both back, but both will see more significant roles this year, mainly with Griffen acting as the main Sack Boy on the defensive line. The interior will be turned over to Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph, who we all hope can mimic the Great Wall of China. The line also has plenty of depth from potentially talented newcomers, but whether or not they turn out to be hidden gems or toilet bowl busts remains to be seen. Regardless, I think there’s enough talent there for Zimmer to work with.
4. Are Our Cornerbacks Less Sucky?
Don’t know. This is the one position I’m surprised they didn’t attack harder in free agency and the draft, which also means it’s probably the biggest question mark heading into training camp. Returning youngster Xavier Rhodes will likely be your main cornerback, with Captain Munnerlyn acting as wiley veteran. Then there is a full list of reclamation projects or rookies hoping to make it big, and oh my god we have no one but Marcus Sherels. I hope Zimmer loves coaching defensive backs, because our most skilled, veteran CB is a 6-year vet who is 5’8″ tall in Munnerlyn. That’s fine though … People don’t really like to pass in football, right?
5. Linebackers, Where Art Thou?
That pretty much leaves us with the linebackers to consider. Aside from Chad Greenway likely moving across all linebacker positions as needed this year, and Anthony Barr acting as freight train terror rushing the quarterback, who else is available to actually, you know, do their job and tackle people? The Vikings signed Jasper Brinkley, and still have Audie Cole, Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges, and so many other “maybes” on the roster. Will any of the pan out? Or will drafting a defensive end to play linebacker end up back firing on us?
Despite these concerns about the Vikings defense, there is one element of solace in all of this … The defense can’t get much worse than what they were last year. So at this point, everything is looking up. Baby steps!