Grading the Minnesota Vikings performance in the 2021 preseason

(Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Cameron Dantzler
(Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Cameron Dantzler /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) Cameron Dantzler /


  • Grade: C-

The Vikings are a team that prides itself on defense. Mike Zimmer is the head coach and came from a defensive background. The unit was embarrassingly bad in 2020, and they made plenty of moves in free agency and the draft to strengthen this side of the ball. So many Vikings fans were extremely excited to see how this unit would look with all the new faces, but were, for the most part, let down.

Like the offense, the Vikings rested many starters during the preseason. We never saw Harrison Smith, Patrick Peterson, Anthony Barr, or Danielle Hunter. We only saw Michael Pierce for a handful of snaps, so it was extremely difficult to properly evaluate this unit’s performance.

The team routinely used a duo of very young safeties in Myles Dorn and Camryn Bynum. Those two had problems getting lined up correctly and that led to some big plays by opposing offenses.

Cameron Dantzler had some ups and downs, and undrafted quarterbacks like Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buchele were able to move the ball down the field on the Vikings’ backups.

Despite giving up 73 points and about a thousand yards of offense, Minnesota’s defense did have some nice moments. They scored two defensive touchdowns, one by Troy Dye and the other by Parry Nickerson. They also had three sacks and were able to get ample pressure on quarterbacks.

Again, many of the players we saw see extensive action in August won’t get a sniff when the actual season begins, but overall this unit’s performance was underwhelming.