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Mike Zimmer on Minnesota’s defense: “Worst one I’ve ever had”

Mike Florio and Charean Williams analyze Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer's decision making after going for it twice on fourth-and-short in Vikings territory, and explain how it could impact his career moving forward.

The 2020 Vikings may not be masters of defense, but their head coach is a master of the obvious.

This is a bad defense,” Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said after the 52-33 loss to the Saints, via Courtney Cronin of “Worst one I’ve ever had.”

The Vikings, as noted earlier, had gone 36 years without allowing 50 or more points. The 52 points surrendered to the Saints were the most the Vikings had seen scored against them in more than 57 years. They also witnessed the first six-touchdown game by a single player, Alvin Kamara, since Gale Sayers scored six times in 1965.

“Really disappointed defensively,” Zimmer said. “You’ve gotta work really hard to give up 52.”

The Vikings are missing some key members of the defense, but Zimmer tried to avoid making excuses, while sort of making excuses.

“We’re a little undermanned, but they should play better than that,” Zimmer said. “Really it wasn’t so much the six touchdowns, it’s more that they just mashed us up front. We couldn’t slow them down. It would be eight-yard gain, seven-yard gain. . . . It was one of those kind of days. . . . We’ve got to get [defensive end Danielle] Hunter back, we’ve got to get [defensive tackle Michael] Pierce here, we’ve got to get [linebacker Anthony] Barr, [linebacker Eric] Kendricks, Pro Bowl players, good players that we have, they need to be back, and then we lost another corner again today. . . . If you go back, and honest, I’m not trying to make excuses, it was embarrassing today. We’re missing four defensive linemen, we’re missing a safety, we’re missing three corners, we’re missing six linebackers, I believe, from where we started. We’re just a little undermanned. That’s still no excuse. These guys put on an NFL jersey, they’ve got to play.”

They played. Poorly. More poorly than any Vikings defense has played in decades. Poorly enough to ensure that Zimmer will be on notice for 2021.

Poorly enough that, if he hadn’t gotten an extension before the 2020 season began, he’d be one game away from becoming a free agent.