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Eight interceptions, 4,019 passing yards allowed and 34 receiving touchdowns allowed. Those were the credentials of the 2011 Minnesota Vikings pass defense.
The eight interceptions were tied for fewest in the NFL. The 4,019 passing yards were seventh most allowed. The 34 touchdowns allowed were most in the NFL.
Yes, there were injuries to the defensive backfield. Yes, there were off-the-field issues. But those numbers combined are inexcusable.
Starting cornerback Cedric Griffin’s career in Minnesota should be over. His performance was terrible this year, regardless of whether he was 100 percent or not, and inexcusable.
The other opening day starter, Antoine Winfield, is 34 years old and will be 35 when the 2012 season begins. He is a 13-year veteran who has been injury-plagued for the previous two seasons.
Winfield can start in 2012, but there will be an opening across from him. That spot would ideally be filled by Chris Cook, but no one knows how his legal issues will finalize; he is unavailable until the issue is resolved.
At safety, Jamarca Sanford can play on a successful defensive unit. He’s not great in pass coverage but does well to stop the run. Minnesota needs a new safety next to Sanford.
So Minnesota, at the very minimum, needs one safety and a new starting cornerback.