The ideal situation for the Vikings secondary probably involves Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn staying healthy with Josh Robinson progressing in a meaningful enough way to make him the clear cut number three.
There are plenty of reasons to worry about Robinson‘s ability to step up, however, and the top “Plan B” candidate appears to be free agent acquisition Derek Cox.
Last offseason, Cox was a hot commodity as an unrestricted free agent and he jetted across the country to play for San Diego after a productive first four seasons in Jacksonville. He signed a four year deal with the Chargers worth $20 million, but disappointment followed shortly when he was unproductive enough to be benched and then released this offseason.
Cox ended up signing with Minnesota for $780,000 for one year. It is his chance, perhaps his last chance, to prove that San Diego was just a poor fit and he can still play well on the outside. As he explains it, the Charger’s defense was schemed in such a way that he followed motioning receivers inside and had to play the slot as a result, and admitted that he isn’t well suited to play in the slot.
“Cornerbacks could travel across the ball, running with motion, and you’d be in a zone coverage,” Cox explained. “Turned you into a nickel back, you’d be in a base [defense] and run to other side in zone coverage, you’d turn into the nickel.”
Ben Goessling of ESPN notes that Zimmer’s defense, in the past, have rarely asked corners to follow receivers across the field. Instead, he asks his corners to play on one side and Cox will be tasked with playing press coverage, which is where he has seen success in the past.
“He is a smart guy. He’s got good size,” Zimmer said of Cox. “He’s catching on to the defense we’re trying to teach, and really, he’s been getting better every single day that we’ve had him.”
This is the time of year when optimism is around every corner and much of it is fool’s gold. Still, hoping for Cox to get his groove back and for Robinson to avoid the bust designation would both be huge wins for a Vikings defense that could use a couple victories.