By Joseph Gunther

Their defense was a problem for the Minnesota Vikings last season, but new Head Coach Mike Zimmer had the unit vastly improved through 13 games. However, the unit has taken a step backward over the last two weeks.

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Zimmer vowed during his Monday press conference that he would get the unit right. The Vikings dropped to 15th in the league (four spots worse than they were entering Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins) in total defense, allowing 350.1 yards per game.

“I will get his defense fixed,” he said. “It may not be this week. It may not be until the middle of (next) year. But it will get fixed. You can bet your butt on that.”

The Dolphins, not known as a great offensive team, were able to gain 36 first downs and total 493 yards of offense. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw for the second most yards in a game in his career. He also completed over 74 percent of his passes for the fourth time in his 47 game NFL career.

“I don’t know who they were Sunday,” Zimmer said about his defense. “It’s disappointing to met that, I mean we had guys who are normally good players that played poorly. I mean really poorly. That surprised me. Guys that you know you can count on that didn’t play good, that’s frustrating. I don’t know. I don’t know what it is.”

The Vikings defense surrendered 23 points in the fourth quarter, touchdowns on all five of the Dolphins’ trips into the red zone and committed 12 penalties (eight were accepted) — two of which were after the whistle personal fouls. They also allowed the Dolphins to convert 36 first downs, by far their highest total this season, and 9-of-13 on third down opportunities. Zimmer let his team know how he felt about the performance.

“He was livid,” Sharrif Floyd said. “In his position, I would be, too, watching the defense do what we did. That was a disgrace for us as a unit. We got to do better.”

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The Vikings face the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium in their season finale. The Bears have the 20th ranked offense with 331.3 total yards per game, including 241.8 through the air.

Vikings draft position

The Vikings are out of playoff contention, but every win or loss has some meaning. The Vikings will move up or down in the NFL draft based on whether they win or lose against the Bears on Sunday. For the coaches and players, draft position is not on their minds. General manager Rick Spielman, along with his coaches, will need to begin the process of determining the future of the roster shortly after Sunday’s game.

The Vikings currently sit with the ninth pick in the draft with a 6-9 record. They are tied with the Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams. The Vikings will select second among those teams due to having the second worst opponent win percentage of the teams.

The Vikings can draft as high as seventh and as low as 13th. A win over the Bears would mean the Vikings would select between the ninth and 13th spots. A loss, however, would give them either the seventh or eighth pick.

For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.

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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on