4 ways the Minnesota Vikings can improve on defense in 2021

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Danielle Hunter
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Danielle Hunter /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Michael Pierce /

Improve run defense

To say the Vikings missed Linval Joseph in 2020 would be something of an understatement. The imposing defensive tackle was a huge part of their success on defense since joining the team in 2014 and not having the Pro Bowler anchoring things on the interior was a significant loss.

Joseph’s departure was even more glaring when free-agent signing Michael Pierce decided to opt-out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 health concerns. Minnesota was relying heavily on Pierce to step in and fill the void after securing his services and those on the rotation who replaced him were disappointing, to put it mildly.

The Vikings gave up 134.4 yards-per-game on the ground last season, which ranked 27th in the NFL and it was a huge increase from the 111.7 average they conceded in 2019.

Minnesota and Mike Zimmer have always prided themselves on dominant run defense, so the sooner they revert to type, the better their chances will be of making a playoff return.

Getting Pierce back in 2021 will be a massive boost and one the Vikings can look forward to. However, they need another talented player capable of disruption alongside him.

There could be some nice bargains to be had in free agency due to the shrinking cap. But much will depend on whether the organization can make the necessary moves in a bid to become bigger spenders when the market opens.