Vikings fans have been participating in a lot of hand-wringing in recent discussions of the defense. The pass rush has been blah and coverage inconsistent. Furthermore, the run defense has too often been non-existent. It’s these struggles that have me wondering: how would Mike Zimmer help this Vikings defense?
Zimmer was widely considered a defensive mastermind before coming to Minnesota. His opening several seasons simply reaffirmed the widespread belief. In fact, his 2017 Vikings team seemed to full solidify the notion that Zim was among the game’s preeminent defensive minds.
Now, things didn’t go particularly well toward the end, leading to the offseason’s changes. Nevertheless, I do wonder what kind of adjustments Zim would look to make for the 2022 team. In short, the defense hasn’t been good enough.
How would Mike Zimmer look to help the Vikings defense if he was still in charge? Ironically, it may begin on offense.
Right now, the Vikings are 28th in the NFL in terms of total rush attempts. For a team with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison in the backfield, that’s a surprising reality. Minnesota only has 1093 rush yards in 2022, which comes in at 26th overall. They’ve rushed for 61 first downs, another total that’s coming in at 26th in the NFL.
Throughout his time in charge, Zimmer commonly spoke about the merits of complementary football. One of his persistent points of emphasis rested on running the ball. Controlling the time of possession would make it easier to shut down the opposition’s offense. Indeed, it’s tough for the other offense to score when it’s sitting on the bench.
Picking up first downs with consistency keeps the purple defense off the field. As a result, they allow less points. Even better, they’re well-rested when they do go on the field.
There is merit in the belief that the team needs to ignite its pass rush, that more blitzes might help the defense to perform better (the team blitzes a mere 15.8% of the time). Zimmer commonly concocted sensational blitzes, freeing his players to generate pressure on the opposing QB. Nevertheless, one wonders if he’d lean on his offensive coaches to help the defense.
How would Mike Zimmer help the Vikings defense? He might start by looking to hand the ball off with more regularity.
Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and StatMuse helped with this piece.