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Could the Vikings Offense Take a Step Back?

The Minnesota Vikings have added plenty of new faces to a defense that struggled mightily last season.

You can make a strong case that the offense will be a bigger question mark than the defense. Yes, the offense should be good again, but could they take a step back? It is possible.

They will certainly benefit from having a much improved defense, but they will be starting rookie left tackle, Christian Darrisaw, and will have a rookie offensive coordinator in Klint Kubiak.

The offensive line should be better, but the question is how much? Ezra Cleveland and rookie Wyatt Davis should not be any worse than Dakota Dozier and Dru Samia, but can Darrisaw be as good as a rookie as Riley Reiff was last season? Darrisaw could very well end up being a solid left tackle for years to come, but asking him to play as well as Reiff did last season is a tall task for a rookie.

While Klint’s father Gary was not a great play caller last season, he was not awful either and would have brought continuity to this offense. Since Norv Turner resigned during the 2016 season, the Vikings have begun every season with a new coordinator. Lack of continuity can make things difficult for an offense, especially early in the season.

Since Klint was with the team the past two seasons as the quarterbacks coach he will bring some continuity, but how much? Will he also be as good of a coordinator or be better? Will he be worse? We do not know yet. One thing might help though. He is young, so his play calling could be more up to date with most of the league and not as old school.

The Vikings offense was ranked fourth overall in the league last season and their 26.9 points per game was 11th best. They should be a top-10 offense again barring major injuries, especially Kirk Cousins. If this team wants to compete for a Super Bowl, taking a step back offensively could really hold them back regardless of how well the defense plays. Even if it stays the same, it may not be enough for them to compete for the ultimate prize.

The schedule will be very tough too this season. At home they will be facing the Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers. On the road they will face the Baltimore Ravens. As usual they of course will face the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. They could very likely split with both teams, assuming Aaron Rodgers returns.

This team could contend for a Super Bowl if they can avoid major injuries and have another solid draft class. There are still some uncertainties they must overcome, though

Maybe Kubiak will be a great offensive coordinator and get head coaching looks. Maybe Darrisaw and Davis will also have exceptional rookie seasons. It will be very interesting to find out.

Ali Siddiqui

Ali Siddiqui joined Vikings Territory right before the start of the 2020 season. He also has been writing for The Viking Age since 2018. You can follow him on twitter @asiddiqui15.

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Biglar
Biglar
16 days ago

The offense, barring major injury, will be better than last year. However, it might look like the offense has taken a step back because, with the defense playing better, Zimmer will probably take the opportunity to be more conservative. Last year, with a bad defense, the Vikings could not be competitive unless they played very aggressively on offense. This year, with a stronger defense and presumably a better overall team, Zimmer will not have to be so aggressive (though I hope Kubiak tries to stay as aggressive as possible). At the end of the season, if the Vikings make the playoffs, it’s probably safe to assume the offense did its job.

don
don
Reply to  Biglar
15 days ago

“The offense, barring major injury, will be better than last year.”

What’s your evidence for that statement? Darrisaw almost certainly won’t play as well this year (his rookie year) as Reiff did last year even if he has a good debut. And even if Davis beats out Dozier, don’t expect a huge difference in terms of wins or points. The only other major change to the roster on that side of the ball is the loss of Kyle Rudolph and his red zone prowess. Smith won’t replace that; maybe Conklin can. We’ve probably already seen peak Thelan and we still don’t have a legit WR3 (not to mention credible depth if either Thelan or Jefferson goes down). Look, things could go very right and the Vikings’ offense could improve but I don’t have any idea how you can state as much with such certainty. I’ll be watching Darrisaw and Davis at training camp to gain insight into what this season may have in store for the offense.

Biglar
Biglar
15 days ago

Sorry, this site doesn’t let me reply, but let me explain my thinking. My view that the offense will be better is mostly based on a career lifecycle view of the team. The offense is quite young except for Thielen.
So while I agree that Darrisaw is not likely to be better than Reiff this year, I think he will be OK. At the same time, however, Cleveland is going into his second year and is likely poised to significantly improve over his rookie performance. Bradbury, in his third year, may improve slightly, but it’s unrealistic to expect more; but he’s still a young guy and is not likely to get worse. Davis is where things get interesting. Dozier was one of the worst guards in the NFL that played a significant number of snaps (77th out of 80 per PFF). I think it’s reasonable to believe that Davis can significantly outperform Dozier’s performance. And O’Neill will still be performing at a high level as he’s still a young guy. So on the line there will be one player who does not fill the position as well as last year, but two (Cleveland and Davis) who are significantly better and two who are about the same (Bradbury and O’Neill).
Cousins is Cousins and he will be about the same player, but if the pass protection is better (it was terrible last year) it’s reasonable to think that he will be better. And Cook and Mattison are still in their primes, so there won’t be any falloff there.
At tight end, let’s not forget that Rudolph wasn’t that great last year – he only had 1 TD so his vaunted red zone production wasn’t there last year. Smith is still very young (22) and has some upside, and Conklin will benefit from getting more targets, so that position would seem to be at least a push, if not advantage to this year’s team (and my favorite sleeper Davidson may surprise).
At WR, I will admit that Thielen is not likely to be as good as last year, but Jefferson will still be the same player, and maybe another player can step up. But if the line holds up better, I still think the passing game will improve, so the WRs will benefit even if they aren’t as good (again, unless the Vikings are ahead and playing conservatively.
Rose-colored glasses? Perhaps. But you asked for my evidence and here it is. Feel free to take it apart.

don
don
Reply to  Biglar
15 days ago

Thanks. There are reasons to be optimistic and I think you do a good job of pointing them out. I’m cautiously optimistic myself. But I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that Cleveland will be “significantly better” than he was last year, at least not at the outset (have you considered some of the interior D-linemen these guys are gonna face this year? Frightening.) nor would it surprise me much if a 3rd round pick in his rookie year struggles just as badly as Dozier, a veteran, did last year. Luckily, I don’t think the offense really has to improve much, if at all, for this team to make a playoff run.

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