Why we should be cautious of the Vikings defense dominating in practice

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Danielle Hunter
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Danielle Hunter /

There have been several instances during the last few weeks of the Minnesota Vikings defense dominating their teammates on the other side of the ball.

If it were possible, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer would probably like to erase the entire 2020 season from his memory.

Zimmer, a defensive guy, had to stand on the sidelines and watch as the Vikings struggled with basic defensive duties such as tackling and pass coverage while also giving up an average of 29.7 points per game.

This year, Minnesota has loaded up the top of their defensive depth chart with more talent and experience. The Vikings are hoping the additions of Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland, Dalvin Tomlinson, Sheldon Richardson, and Xavier Woods combined with the returns of Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr, Michael Pierce, and Eric Kendricks will result in the team’s defense ranking among the NFL’s best once again this season.

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With all the returns and additions Minnesota has on the defensive side of the ball this year, it is completely fair to believe that the unit will be significantly better than it was in 2020.

But right now, all that we can really judge is how the Vikings defense performs in practice and in their limited preseason snaps.

During their practice on Tuesday, Minnesota reportedly delivered a dominating performance, especially the pass-rushing combo of defensive end Danielle Hunter and defensive tackle Michael Pierce.

The Vikings defensive line, at least at the top of the depth chart, has been looking impressive during the last few weeks according to multiple reports. And while we know the position group is full of talent with guys like Hunter, Pierce, Richardson, and Tomlinson, they have also been going up against a Minnesota offensive line that could, once again, be one of the worst in the NFL this season.

Currently, it looks like the Vikings are going to open up the 2021 campaign with a starting offensive line that consists of Rashod Hill, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Oli Udoh, and Brian O’Neill. There is a hope that this group can at least be average in 2021, but it’s difficult to remain optimistic given the awful track record of Minnesota’s offensive line since Rick Spielman became the team’s general manager in 2012.

So is the Vikings defensive line going to be better this season with guys like Hunter, Pierce, and Tomlinson out on the field? Of course they will and no one would be surprised if Minnesota’s front-four wound up as one of the best in the NFL this year.

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But we should make that judgment after they’ve gone up against a few offensive lines from around the league that are more talented than the Vikings’ current group of blockers.