The 2020 NFL season is scheduled to begin in just over three months, with the Vikings slated to open with a Week 1 home game against the Packers.
King took a look back at the Vikings offseason, and lauded Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and his staff for their work, beginning with the mid-March trade of Stefon Diggs that netted three total draft picks to Minnesota.
I love the deal GM Rick Spielman made prior to the draft, sending 26-year-old Stefon Diggs and a seventh-rounder to Buffalo for first, fourth, fifth and sixth-round draft picks, then choosing LSU slot receiver Justin Jefferson (who turns 21 in two weeks) with the 22nd pick. Jefferson caught 111 balls from Joe Burrow last year and though there's no guarantee he'll be, say, a 65-catch guy in an offense that wants to be fairly even in the run-pass ratio, there's the added benefit of the Vikings saving about $8.5-million a year on the cap over the next three years in Jefferson's deal versus Diggs' contract.
King then delved into the Vikings roster and noted he expects running back Dalvin Cook — a 2019 Pro Bowl selection — to have another productive season in 2020.
But King also opined that a defense that endured quite a bit of turnover could go through some growing pains with a host of fresh faces on the unit.
Dalvin Cook could win a rushing title with his ability and the Minnesota love of the run. I'd be more worried about the run defense than the run offense. Minnesota allowed 4.3 yards per attempt last year, leading to a swap of free-agent run-stoppers: Linval Joseph out, Michael Pierce in. The secondary is a bigger concern, actually. The Vikings let corners Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackenzie Alexander walk, and replaced them with first-rounder Jeff Gladney and third-rounder Cameron Dantzler; they'll be counted on early, as will former first-rounder Mike Hughes, who's played only 20 of 34 Vikings games since being drafted due to injury.
King said he'll be watching how a quartet of Vikings veteran defensive coaches help mold a host of young players on the defense.
It'll be interesting to see how four men — coach Mike Zimmer, advisor Dom Capers and co-coordinators Adam Zimmer and Andre Patterson — meld running Mike Zimmer's beloved D. By December, when the Vikings go on the road to play Tom Brady and Drew Brees in a 12-day span, they'd better have it all figured out. I like the Vikings, but this is a team with some defensive questions.
The Vikings were the sixth-ranked team in the NFC behind New Orleans, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Seattle and Dallas.
Minnesota was the top-ranked NFC North team, ahead of Green Bay (12th), Chicago (17th) and Detroit (26th).
Zimmer chats with Eisen about Vikings virtual offseason so far
Zimmer went on The Rich Eisen Show on Thursday to discuss a variety of topics around the team, including an inside peek at Minnesota's virtual offseason program has gone.
"Typically, we meet together as an offense first. Then the offensive line goes to another room, virtually I guess," Zimmer said. "Then we'll sit in with the skill players and talk about pass plays and things like that. Then we have a team meeting where the whole entire team comes in and we'll talk to them about situational football. [Thursday], I did a presentation on the red zone.
"Then special teams meets for 30 minutes, and then we'll have a defensive meeting. Sometimes we have virtual walk-throughs … Today we did a protection tape on how offenses block different protections," Zimmer added. "We're able to get a lot of that stuff done, which is good. Again, we'll hit it a few more times before we get ready to play a real game, but I think that part has been good."
Zimmer also chatted with Eisen about what the 2020 season could look like, Minnesota's draft class, the Diggs trade, scheming against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his relationship with Hall of Famers Bill Parcells and Deion Sanders.
Zimmer, who is entering is seventh season in Minnesota, also noted that he was against the 4th-and-15 scenario that was suggested as an alternative to the onside kick. The proposal was tabled by NFL owners last week, but it could return in the future.
"I'm against it, Rich, and I think part of the reason is that if you get a [defensive] pass interference, it's an automatic first down," Zimmer said. "There's a lot of things that could happen there. I'm a traditionalist anyway, I like football the way it is for the most part.
"But if they pass it and that's how we have to defend it, then we'll go about our business and work like crazy to get it stopped," Zimmer added.
Zimmer's full conversation with Eisen can be found here.