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Mike Zimmer said during training camp that if the wrong players got hurt, the Vikings would be in trouble. On Monday, that omen came true when Patrick Peterson was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

For each injury this season, the Vikings have been fortunate to have had a capable backup to take their place. But Peterson's injury carries a heavier burden. Despite dumping a ton of money into the secondary this offseason, the depth chart behind the former All-Pro doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

They could dive into a free agent market that includes Brian Poole or former first-round pick Gareon Conley, but it's unlikely any player would make an immediate impact. Instead, the best option may not be a player. It may not even be on the defensive side of the ball. 

The answer might very well be found in opening up the offense. 

Since the 2020 season ended, head coach Mike Zimmer has tried to patch up his defense with bandaids. The Vikings spent $45 million to fix the defense but it still ranks in the middle of the pack in yards (15th) and points (16th) allowed.

Those numbers may also be suppressed after what the Vikings defense faced the past three weeks. In Week 4, they went up against Baker Mayfield, whose non-throwing shoulder is hanging by a thread. In Week 5, they went up against Jared Goff, who was just thrown under the bus by his own head coach. And in Week 6, they faced Sam Darnold and a Carolina receiving core that couldn't catch anything.

The real defense may have been the one that had difficulties against Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson, though to their credit, they did shut down Wilson and the Seahawks in the second half. 

With matchups against Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert and Aaron Rodgers after the bye, the road is about to get a lot bumpier. It's only natural for Zimmer to stick his chest out in defiance and coach his defense to victory but at some point he has to put his pride out of the way and let the offense take over.

Through six games, the offense looks a lot like the one we saw in 2020. While Zimmer touted his offense as explosive last season, it ranked fourth in total yards but 11th in points. That same divide has occurred this season with the offense ranking fifth in total offense but 11th in points.

The conservative approach has led to inexplicable late-game collapses against the Lions and Panthers, which if one minor detail were to have changed the Vikings could be staring at a 1-5 record and Zimmer would probably be out of work. 

Kirk Cousins has led three game-winning drives over the past two games and potentially saved Zimmer's job in the process. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen are one of the best receiving duos in the NFL. And K.J. Osborn has emerged as the best Vikings' best third receiver since Jarius Wright.

Although his high-wire act has gotten him to 3-3, Zimmer's method for success isn't sustainable. After Peterson's injury, he will be forced to adapt or find himself looking for another job.

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