Skip to main content

Vikings' defense aiming for elite season after hype fizzled in 2016

Minnesota was third in total defense but they struggled in the red zone and against the run.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

The Vikings finished third in total defense and sixth in scoring defense last season. Those numbers would've been far better had the defense lived up to the hype it generated the first five weeks of the season. 

Things went south following a bye in Week 6, losing eight of the final 11 games while surrendering an average of 22 points per game. They allowed just over 12 points per game during the 5-0 start. 

"There's a lot of areas [for improvement]," safety Harrison Smith told NFL Network's Steve Mariucci at training camp on Friday. "Red zone, two-minute... the situations are a big place for improvement this year. Yards per carry, when we get chances to make interceptions and force fumbles – capitalize on those things because we don't want to be third, we want to be first." 

In 2015, the Vikings ranked fifth in red zone touchdown percentage by allowing only 46.5% of trips inside the red zone to end in a touchdown. That number jumped to 54.5% in 2016, good for 14th in the league. 

Linebacker Eric Kendricks says improvement comes down to better communication. 

"It always starts with communication," Kendricks told Mariucci. "Now that we're familiar with the defense we can kind of play with it. If everyone's on the same page, we're communicating well, we're flying to the ball, good things happen."

Minnesota's best defense last season was against the pass, where it ranked third in the NFL at 207.9 yards per game. The rushing defense was a different story, finishing 19th with an average of 106.9 yards per game allowed. 

Next Up


80 mph winds, large hail possible with severe storms in MN

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for much of the state until 3 a.m. Saturday.


30 people evacuated as flooding hammers small town

It's assumed that at least eight inches of rain fell in Randall, with more heavy rain expected Friday night into Saturday morning.

Intersection in Rochester.

Boy dies in motorcycle crash in Rochester

Police are investigating as of Friday afternoon.

Tab2FileL (13)

Numerous severe storms likely in Minnesota Friday night

Watch the video for the full details with meteorologist Sven Sundgaard.

court room

Teen pleads guilty in shooting death of 15-year-old girl in Columbia Heights

Damico Jamal-Tokyo High will receive a sentence in juvenile court, along with an adult prison sentence.

Screen Shot 2022-04-25 at 11.00.01 AM

Walz wants to use surplus money to send direct payments to Minnesotans

It's a renewed effort from a previous proposal from Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan's supplemental budget in January.

Ron Johnson

Jan. 6 committee says aide for WI senator tried to give fake elector info to Pence

The attempt was discovered through text messages in the ongoing public hearing held by the Jan. 6 select committee.

Stock U of M sign

Minnesota state colleges boosting tuition again by 3.5%

The Minnesota State system's Board of Trustee's approved the increase Wednesday.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, June 24

The next daily update will be provided Monday, June 27.

Pro choice rally

Walz, Jensen react to historic Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade

After voting to overturn Roe, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas has hinted contraception and same-sex marriage protections should follow.

16362 County Rd 81, Maple Grove, Minnesota - October 2021 (4)

2-year-old killed in crash on County Road 81 in Maple Grove

The crash occurred Thursday evening on County Road 81.

police tape

BCA issues new details about St. Michael standoff, shooting

New details say a St. Cloud police officer struck the suspect with gunfire.


Vikings not the only hyped defense struggling in the NFL

Even the Bears got shredded by the Packers in Week 1.

Who does it better: Vikings' defense or Packers' offense?

Specifically, this game could come down to third downs and the red zone.

Mike Hughes

Why a cornerback rotation is best for the Vikings' defense

Minnesota's pass defense is giving up 236 yards per game.

Danielle Hunter

The Vikings' defensive starters if the season started today

The defense will look a lot different in 2020.

Holton Hill

Holton Hill can be missing piece for Vikings defense

As the Vikings head toward the second half of the season, Holton Hill could be an unlikely contributor that can make Mike Zimmer's defense even better.

5 stunning stats – good and bad – for Vikes through 4 games

Minnesota's defense is not what everyone thought it would be.

Adam Thielen hopes Vikings respect him after his breakout season

Adam Thielen will cash in after posting career-best numbers in 2016.