Go with experience over potential at corner
The defensive backfield is Mike Zimmer’s forte, so it must have been an extremely tough watch when he looked back at the game film from Week 1.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers picked apart the Vikings secondary and he could basically do anything he wanted out on the field last week. Minnesota’s inexperience in the defensive backfield was glaring against Green Bay and some of the blame for their struggles can be placed on their coaching staff.
As their starting corners in Week 1, the Vikings went with Mike Hughes and rookie Cameron Dantzler. With there not being any OTAs or minicamps this year, Dantzler only had about a month of practice time before getting the starting nod against the Packers. Minnesota clearly felt he was ready, but the rookie showed that he still has plenty to learn.
Dantzler gave up a touchdown, he allowed a catch on each of the six times he was targeted, and Rodgers had a perfect 158.3 rating when targeting the rookie. Hughes wasn’t much better though, as his numbers were basically identical to Dantzler’s in Week 1.
Holton Hill, who didn’t get the start, struggled as well but he at least put up a bit of a fight during his time on the field. Hill also gave up a touchdown reception, but he only allowed a 63.6 completion rate during the 11 times he was targeted by Rodgers.
It’s going to take a lot longer than a week for Zimmer to fix the play of his corners, but he should at least replace Dantzler in the starting lineup with Hill. The rookie should still get playing time, but he was being relied on way too much in Week 1 and there were plenty of times where he looked lost out on the field.
If Hughes continues to struggle in Week 2 again, Zimmer should also consider giving Kris Boyd some additional opportunities out on the field. After Week 1, the Vikings head coach should be willing to do just about anything to fix his pass defense.