The Minnesota Vikings missed the playoffs for the first time in four years after going 7-9 in 2020. Their defense, which finished No. 11 or better in scoring during each of head coach Mike Zimmer's first six seasons, dropped to No. 29 last year.
Regarding the defense, Zimmer had this to say to reporters while also noting that he was "down in the dumps" at the end of last season when reviewing the team's depth chart.
"So we had to address that. Honestly, at the end of the season, I was pretty down in the dumps when I kept looking at the depth chart and knowing what kind of salary cap space we had. Like I said, Rob (Brzezinski) and Rick (Spielman) have done an unbelievable job doing that, and they've got me rejuvenated with the guys they've brought in."
The Vikings' additions include cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who played for Minnesota from 2016-2019 before moving to the Cincinnati Bengals for a year. They also include safety Xavier Woods, cornerback Patrick Peterson, defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, linebacker Nick Vigil and defensive end Stephen Weatherly.
Minnesota should also return defensive end Danielle Hunter, who underwent neck surgery and missed all of 2020. He had 29 sacks over 2018 and 2019. The Vikings also return linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks and safety Harrison Smith, who have combined to make 10 Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams.
The offense appears to be in pretty good shape thanks to some superstars in wideouts Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen and running back Dalvin Cook. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is also back after completing 67.6 percent of his passes and tossing a career-high 35 touchdowns in 2020.
If the defense can return to its old form under Zimmer, the Vikings could easily post a winning record and find themselves back in the playoffs following a one-year absence.