Vikings defense can be elite with lighter burden | Forum

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Angel92 Sep 18 '17

Every Vikings player bears the scar of last year’s season-ending 3-8 skid, even though Mike Zimmer is quick to defend his prideful defense <a href=""></a>; that started the year better than any team in the NFL.

“We had two bad games,” Zimmer said of the defense. “I don’t know about tapered off. We finished third in the league in points scored and every other statistical category.”

In Zimmer’s third season at the helm, the Vikings defense recorded top-10 finishes in five major categories: yards allowed (third), passing yards allowed (third), sacks forced (fifth), points allowed (sixth) and takeaways (seventh).

The NFL took notice when they were the league’s last unbeaten team at 5-0.

“Our team was clicking,” defensive end Brian Robison said. “Offense was putting up points. Defensively we were making plays.”

Carrying the weight of an offense that <a href=""></a>; failed to reach 21 points in seven of nine games, the Vikings defense, the team’s backbone, started to break.

Perfectly mediocre made a sour replacement for all-time great. That’s 8-8 for you.

Zimmer knows his defense, which featured five Pro Bowl players last season, is better than the record suggested. That’s why the Vikings extended the contracts of three cornerstones — cornerback Xavier Rhodes, defensive end Everson Griffen and defensive tackle Linval Joseph — this summer.

But Zimmer still tinkered with the unit that brought the Vikings back to relevancy. He made at least three lineup changes. The veteran defensive coach even considered giving up play-calling to better manage game days but quickly took back the play sheet this preseason.

He and his coaches are also encouraging Vikings defenders to generate a little recklessness within their well-oiled, tightly wound machine in the <a href="">Mike Pouncey Kids Jersey</a> hope of interrupting offenses more at and behind the line of scrimmage.

“Don’t be satisfied with just, ‘Hey, I did my job,’ ” said linebackers coach Adam Zimmer. “Let’s get more hats on the ball.”