Vikings coach Mike Zimmer stood on his record during training camp, expressing confidence despite their renovations that “I’ve never had a bad defense.”
The early results weren’t promising, after Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers strafed his rebuilt secondary, and the Vikings allowed 43 points in a dispiriting loss.
“Luckily we had one goal-line stand,” Zimmer joked, via Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Otherwise it would have been really ugly. . . .
“There’s a lot of football left to be played, but we got to get better quick.”
Zimmer knows better than anyone how unattractive it actually was, but still had to be caught off guard by the degree.
The Vikings had a brand new group of cornerbacks, and Rodgers went to work on them early. Coupled with the absence of star pass-rusher Danielle Hunter and no impact from recent trade acquisition Yannick Ngakoue, and the Vikings looked nothing like those great defenses they’ve had in the past.
“That’s not what we’re used to here,” safety Harrison Smith said. “It’s not what we’re about here. We’ve got to do everything we can to move on from this and improve drastically from 43.”
The collapse was dramatic and complete, as Rodgers even coaxed the Vikings into jumping offsides three times (in their home stadium). Those kind of drive-extenders explained the ridiculous time of possession advantage (41:16 to 18:44)) for the Packers, who rolled up 522 yards on 76 plays.
“We just kept allowing them to drain us,” Smith said. “That’s what happens when you’re on the field for [41 minutes]. You’re not going to win a lot of games that way.”
They didn’t, and they might not, unless they start playing defense they way they’re accustomed to.