Stat reveals massive strategy change for the Vikings defense this year

(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Mike Zimmer
(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Mike Zimmer /

Compared to last year, the secondary of the Minnesota Vikings will feature a significantly higher amount of experience out on the field next season.

After rolling with the veteran trio of Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander for a few years, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer decided to see if his secondary could perform well without these three defensive backs last season.

Spoiler alert, it didn’t work. The Vikings pass defense took some major steps back in 2020 after the departures of Rhodes, Waynes, and Alexander.

Looking back, however, the regression of Minnesota’s secondary shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise given the lack of experience the team had in their cornerback room. Luckily, the Vikings realized this during the last few months and they made some necessary changes that should get their pass defense back on track.

Amount of experience among the Minnesota Vikings cornerbacks is incredibly higher than it was in 2020

Currently, Minnesota has 11 cornerbacks on their roster. Around this time last year, the Vikings also had 11 corners taking up spots on their roster. With the current group, however, there is one major difference.

The 11 cornerbacks on Minnesota’s roster in 2020 had started a combined nine games in all of their careers. This year, the Vikings corners have started a combined 303 games in their NFL careers. That’s an increase in starting experience of more than 3,000 percent.

Minnesota still has some talented young cornerbacks to be excited about like Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Hand. But adding more veteran experience to the group was clearly a point of emphasis for the Vikings this offseason.

Minnesota’s pass defense was the third-worst in the history of the franchise last year. Someone like Zimmer, whose expertise lies in the defensive backfield, was not going to let the Vikings have another performance like last season’s ever again.

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With Zimmer leading the way, Minnesota finished each year between 2016 and 2018 with a pass defense that ranked third in the league or better. Heading into the 2021 season, the Vikings now have the talent and experience in their secondary to get their pass defense back to how it was during those three years.