3 ways the Vikings can turn their 2021 season around.

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Mike Zimmer
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Mike Zimmer /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services) Bashaud Breeland – Minnesota Vikings /

Change #3: Letting the Young Guys Play

Mike Zimmer has a formula, and he does not like to deviate from his formula. Rookies don’t play over veterans. It is pretty clear-cut and has not changed in the last few years under Zimmer. The stubbornness this coaching staff has portrayed over the years and unwillingness to play young guys over struggling veterans has been an issue.

This has been a well-documented issue once again for Zimmer and the Vikings this season. The first instance is the most glaring one with his decision to play Bashaud Breeland over both Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Hand, even after Breeland was ranked dead last in PFF grade among all active cornerbacks. Obviously, with Patrick Peterson on the shelf for at least another week or two, Breeland has gotten plenty of snaps in his absence, but once the former Pro Bowler comes back from IR, Zimmer should make the switch to starting Dantzler opposite of Peterson in the base defense.

Another instance is along the offensive line where Minnesota, when healthy, has chosen to start both Oli Udoh and Garrett Bradbury upfront instead of Mason Cole and Wyatt Davis. Oli Udoh has been a promising young developmental player for the Vikings for the last few years and has finally gotten his chance to be a consistent starter. However, this year, he has been more of a burden to the offense than an asset. Udoh for second among offensive linemen in penalties and penalty yards this season, and his blocking has been less than stellar as well.

Bradbury on the other hand has been very disappointing since Minnesota took him in the first round in 2019. Bradbury has been consistently ranked at the bottom of both pass-blocking grade and run-blocking grade since entering the league, and the tape supports that. Mason Cole stepped in for Bradbury when he was put on the COVID-19 reserve list this past week, and he played fairly well. The Vikings should be looking to start Cole even after Bradbury comes back.

There is no guarantee that making the changes to start Dantzler, Davis, or Cole long-term will indeed work out, but seeing what they have in some of these pieces can help determine the best course of action for the rest of this season and beyond.

*All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise stated.