The major area of concern for the Minnesota Vikings heading into the offseason was the structure and direction of the defense. From the youth of the roster to the complicated defensive scheme, the Vikings defense had to improve.
They added depth and quality to a defensive unit that was at a loss of confidence, some due to youth and inexperience, some due to the questionable utilization of players in the defensive scheme. It was a scheme that brought the Vikings the 26th-ranked defense in the NFL.
During the Vikings' recent camps, the defensive coaching staff headed up by new defensive coordinator George O'Leary, the focus was on technique, communication, and preparation.
"What George (O'Leary) has done is change the base defense and simplify somewhat what we will do, play in and play out," Mike Tice said. "We were not nearly as aggressive as I would have liked us to have been. Inexperience, technique, and the overall talent in the defensive backfield had much to do with our performance."
One specific area that the Vikings have looked to significantly improve was the consistency and ability of the defensive backfield. Developing the young talent while attempting to become competitive was a difficult task for the Vikings. The inexperience was costly for the team, but the improvement was evident as the season wore on.
"It certainly wasn't a secret what we wanted to accomplish in the offseason. Our play against the pass needed immediate improvement and we wanted to be more athletic at the point of attack," Tice continued. "With the defensive backs that we have signed, we believe that we have quality players at the corner that will improve our position.
"We have some guys here that had to grow up in a hurry. They made mistakes, more than we really wanted to see, but that is part of the game. For the young guys, you learn from the mistakes and grow as a player, for the veterans that were making the same mistakes, that is inexcusable."
With training camp around the corner, the Vikings have been hard at work installing some new facets to the defense to utilize the talent on the roster accordingly.
"With all the new players we have added to the defense, we will be challenged every day to improve," Tice said. "One thing that I have seen over the past few weeks is that these guys are willing to learn and they are digesting what we are telling them. Getting these guys into the proper scheme will ultimately determine our success."
Technique and Preparation Key To Defensive Success
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