The Minnesota Vikings didn't just lose to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. They also lost one of their best and most important defensive players. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer confirmed on Monday that linebacker Anthony Barr is out for the year after suffering a torn pectoral muscle during the team's loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
"Anthony was our first draft pick that we had when we came here and integral part of our defense," Zimmer said, per the team's official Twitter account. "It's tearing him up inside that he won't be able to play."
Minnesota's defense took a step backward last season, and the team made some dramatic changes during the offseason. They declined to re-sign three of their top four cornerbacks, let both Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph leave in free agency, signed Michael Pierce in free agency only to see him opt out due to COVID-19, drafted two cornerbacks, two defensive linemen, a linebacker, and a safety, and traded for Yannick Ngakoue.
Now, Barr joins Danielle Hunter on injured reserve (Hunter was placed on IR before the season with an unspecified injury). Sub package linebacker Ben Gedeon, who presumably could have picked up some more snaps in the wake of Barr's injury, is still on the physically unable to perform list. The defense has given up 71 points in two games while forcing only one turnover, and the offense sputtered to a halt against Indianapolis after scoring 34 points against the Packers.
Very quickly, this season looks like one that could get kind of ugly for the Vikings. After giving up at least 150 yards on the ground in each of their first two games, they play host to Derrick Henry and the Titans next week. Then they play the Texans in Houston, the Seahawks in Seattle, and the Falcons at home before taking their bye. That's not exactly an easy stretch, and to keep playoff hopes alive, and Vikes likely have to go at least 2-2. It's going to be tough sledding.