Mike Zimmer deserves another season with the Minnesota Vikings. That said, he needs to win the draft season.
Mike Zimmer is known for his top-notched defensive units. It must have ate at him watching this makeshift Minnesota Vikings‘ defense allow Alvin Kamara to enter the record books Sunday with a six-touchdown game.
Zimmer said after the game that while he loves his team, this will be a unit remembered for the wrong reasons.
“This is a bad defense,” Zimmer told reporters. “Worst one I’ve ever had.”
LIVE: Head Coach Mike Zimmer recaps today's loss https://t.co/v6oZRlEUoP
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 26, 2020
While the 6-9 Vikings will miss the postseason, Zimmer shouldn’t be considered on the hot seat. In seven years with the team, he’s posted five seasons of .500 ball or better and three trips to the postseason. He also has a 2-3 record thanks to a Blair Walsh missed kick.
Zimmer said he’s never had a bad defense. That statement ended Friday. Now, he’ll need to secure a perfect defensive draft if he hopes to be the long-term coach past the 2021 season.
The Vikings must have a great 2021 NFL Draft
Minnesota lost Danielle Hunter and Anthony Barr at the start of the year while defensive tackle Michael Pierce opted out. Cameron Dantzler improved on the outside while Jeff Gladney has been a reliable tackler in the slot. Eric Kendricks was still is playing a near Pro Bowl level when healthy.
There’s the base for the future. Everyone else should be up for debate.
As mentioned by FanSided’s Matt Verderame in this week’s Stacking the Box column, the Vikings cap space will make them sellers in free agency. The team is already expected to lose Anthony Harris after playing on the franchise tag while Harrison Smith will make $10.25 million in the final year of his contract.
The 2021 defensive class is loaded with talent in the front seven. Miami’s Gregory Rousseau stunted his way to the top of the pass rushers column with a breakout sophomore season. Fellow Hurricane Quincy Roche or Wake Forest’s Carlos Basham would also be great additions in the mid-rounds.
At linebacker, Missouri’s Nick Bolton would be a plug and play defender should the team move off of Barr. If they’re looking for more speed, Alabama’s Dylan Moses might be worthy of trading back up for in at the end of the first. Meanwhile, Florida State’s Marvin Wilson and Alabama’s Christian Barmore fit the 4-3 scheme Zimmer loves to run.
Miami ran Gregory Rousseau on the interior at points last season. He dominated there. They ran him as a pure DE, he dominated there. There was nothing he couldn’t do.
This time next year, Gregory Rousseau might very well be EDGE1 in the 2021 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/pZnaug86qT
— Kevin Fielder (@TheKevinFielder) March 15, 2020
The team will need to address the offensive early to protect Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook both on the edge and up the middle. Outside of that, the remainder of the draft should be defensive-based.
Zimmer has earned another shot. But if the Vikings defense is still the problem in 2021, that might lead to an early retirement for the defensive wiz.