clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Fix Is In, Courtesy Of Mike Zimmer

New, comments
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

When the Minnesota Vikings hired head coach Mike Zimmer a little over a year ago, he brought with him the reputation of being a defensive wizard. It was a reputation that was well-deserved, and one that was on display in his first season in charge of the Minnesota Vikings.

In 2014, the Vikings' defense gave up 137 fewer points than they did in 2013. That turnaround, one that saw them go from allowing an even 30 points a game (good for dead last in the NFL) in 2013 to allowing 21.4 points a game (11th in the league) was the biggest turnaround in the league from last season to this one. With just four fewer points allowed, they would have found themselves in the top ten in scoring defense just a year after fielding one of the worst defenses in team history.

And in even better news, according to Andrew Krammer of 1500 ESPN, based on his history, next season could be even better for the Minnesota Vikings on the defensive side of the ball.

Courtesy of Krammer, here's a chart that shows how Mike Zimmer defense have progressed from Zimmer's first season on the sidelines to his second.

Defense

Points/gm

Yards/gm

Yards/play

Yards/run

1999 DAL

17.2 (5th)

302.5 (9th)

4.9

3.5 (4th)

2000 DAL

22.6 (22nd)

333 (19th)

5.2 (22nd)

4.9 (30th)

2001 DAL

21.1 (20th)

287 (4th)

4.7 (4th)

3.6 (7th)

2007 CIN

24.1 (24th)

348.8 (27th)

5.5

4.2 (21st)

2008 CIN

22.8 (19th)

325 (12th)

5.1 (12th)

3.9 (10th)

2009 CIN

18.2 (6th)

301 (4th)

4.9 (4th)

3.9 (5th)

2013 MIN

30.0 (32nd)

397.6 (31st)

5.6

4.0 (13th)

2014 MIN

21.4 (11th)

344 (14th)

5.4 (14th)

4.3 (19th)

2015 MIN

?

?

?

?

EDIT: By request, I've added the stats of the teams from the year before Zimmer became the team's defensive coordinator. Those numbers are in italics.

Defenses led by Mike Zimmer made significant jumps from Season #1 to Season #2 in both Dallas and Cincinnati, with the 2009 Bengals turning into one of the NFL's best. The change to a new scheme alone has been enough to give the Vikings a significant boost in Zimmer's first season, and an increased familiarity with the system, as well as the Vikings bringing in some more "Zimmer guys" through free agency and/or the draft could make the defense that much more potent.

And the best part? Well, based on the current roster, here's what I'd project to be the starting defense for the Vikings in 2015, along with the current ages of those players:

Everson Griffen (27)
Linval Joseph (26)
Sharrif Floyd (23)
Brian Robison (31)

Gerald Hodges (24)
Audie Cole (25)
Anthony Barr (22)

Xavier Rhodes (24)
Captain Munnerlyn (26)
Harrison Smith (25)
Robert Blanton (25)

Even if he does return, I don't see Chad Greenway being a starter at linebacker for this team next season. And it's entirely possible that Robison could wind up seeing his role reduced or even find himself out of a job. If that were to happen, it's highly likely that we would see a scenario where Everson Griffen is the "old man" of the Minnesota defense. And he's coming off of his first full year as a starter after four years of part-time duty.

The Minnesota defense is young, it's talented. . .and if history is any guide, it's on the doorstep of being one of the NFL's best. That would certainly be a huge help for Teddy Bridgewater and the rest of the Minnesota offense. Here's hoping that history can repeat itself for our favorite football team in 2015.