Photo credit: KFAN Radio
In 2013, the Vikings were ranked 31st in the league in total defense and also dead last in points allowed with 30 per game.
Since then with Mike Zimmer being brought in as the head coach, they have transformed into one of the best defenses in the league. They have been 14th, 13th and 3rd in total defense and also 11th, 5th and 6th in points allowed. Problem though is that the offense has been among the worst in the league.
The struggles of the offense, put the defense in some tough situations. Left them on the field too long and opposing offenses were given shorter fields to work with. The offense the past three seasons has been 27th, 29th, and 28th in total offense and 20th, 16th and 23rd in points scored.
This offseason the Vikings were busy in trying to improve the offense. Tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers were signed in free agency, along with running back Latavius Murray. They also spent their first draft picks on running back Dalvin Cook and center/guard Pat Elflein. They also added wide receivers Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley, along with tight end Bucky Hodges and guard Danny Isidora. Michael Floyd just became the latest addition and will also help if he can stay clean.
Will the offense be great? Not likely, but definitely improved, which will give the defense more rest and opposing offenses longer field to work with.
Sometimes your best offense is your best defense and sometimes your best defense is your best offense.
Sam Bradford will not only have more talent around him this season, but will also have a full offseason with his teammates. Last season he was acquired a week before the season began.
Losing cornerback Captain Munnerlyn hurts, but the rest of the key contributors from last season will be back. Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen, Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes are among the best at their positions. Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks and Trae Waynes will also be entering their third seasons. Andrew Sendejo is not great by any means, but showed improvement last season. Every upgrade makes a big difference. He could also take another step forward this season.
It will be very interesting to see how second year cornerback Mackenzie Alexander will play this season. In the limited time he received last season, he struggled. Maybe he will still turn into a serviceable player. Time will tell.
The Vikings were 8-8 last season and 2-4 in games decided by six points or less. Having a better offense will certainly help them win more games this season and the defense will continue to be among the best in the league.
Injuries certainly hurt the offense a lot, but not as much as the lack of talent and depth. The offense has a very good chance of being in the top 15 this season. In addition to the new acquisitions and Bradford having a full offseason, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen should continue to keep improving. Adams and Hodges could become steals and Cook and Elflein will be asked to play critical roles. Both could become very good players.
Alex Boone had a decent season, but did not reach expectations. He should benefit from having Reiff next to him, instead of Matt Kalil, Jake Long and T.J. Clemmings.
The Vikings have the talent to once again compete for the division and maybe go far in the playoffs if they can have fewer injuries. Having more depth should make a big difference if they have many injuries again.
The Packers will continue to be in the hunt as long as they have Aaron Rodgers. The Lions showed improvement last season and upgraded their offensive line this offseason. It will be an exciting race.
Every year we see teams making a bigger jump than expected. Maybe this season, the Vikings could very well be that team. The Falcons started the 2016 season at 5-0 before finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs. Last season they went to the Super Bowl. Last season the Vikings started 5-0 before finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs.
The offense will improve, but how much will be the biggest question. The defense will benefit from the offense improving. The better the offense will be, the better the defense will be too.
The Vikings went 26-23 (including one playoff game) the past three seasons. In their 26 wins, they averaged 27.3 points per game and allowed 15.4. In the their 23 losses, they averaged 13.7 points per game and allowed 24.4.
This is the most important season of Bradford’s career. If the offense could even go top 15 in the league, it will be a very good season for the Vikings.