When It’s All Set and Done, the 2023 Vikings Will Be Remembered for 2 Things

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Currently sitting at a 7-7 record in second place in the NFC North, the 2023 Minnesota Vikings still control their destiny with a chance to clinch a playoff spot, although it became a longshot to defend the division with the defeat in Cincinnati. When fans of the purple team look back at the sophomore season of head coach Kevin O’Connell, they will remember two aspects.

When It’s All Set and Done, the 2023 Vikings Will Be Remembered for 2 Things

The franchise has played 14 games in the season, and at this point, everyone knows who and what they are. They have a solid defense, and the offense can put up points even with backup quarterbacks, but nobody expects this team to make much noise in the playoffs. Even diehard fans and those who are most optimistic among the fans have said goodbye to that dream.

 All Set and Done, the 2023 Vikings Will Be Remembered for 2 Things
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

A major reason for that was a play in Week 8 when Kirk Cousins’ Achilles tendon snapped as he tried to scramble out of the pocket. For many years, the fan base was torn about the veteran passer and his mixed results, but in the few weeks before his injury, many seemed to get on his side because of a fantastic win against the 49ers. He was confident in the system and started to get hot, just shredding opponents.

Since he hasn’t been on the field leading his team, there have been three different players at quarterback, and life beyond Cousins hasn’t been good so far. Joshua Dobbs produced a pair of miracle games, pulling a couple of upsets out of his hat, but has come back to earth rather quickly.

Nick Mullens has since replaced him. The backup is what he is: a gunslinger who gives his playmakers and the defenders chances to make plays. Then there is rookie Jaren Hall, who looked fine on his second drive as a starter but apparently hasn’t quite developed to the point of earning some more snaps in the games.

HC Explains QB
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

It is hard to win games with a backup quarterback, and Nick Foles’ 2017 playoff run remains the exception. And when fans talk about the 2023 Vikings in a year, a decade, or 20 years, it will be the team that has lost its starting quarterback and had to go through a quarterback carousel. Those alternatives might play a good game or come away with a victory, but they are never sustained successes.

Six games sans Cousins, the Vikes won half of those, but the defense has surely developed into one of the top units in the NFL. The thought of how scary a Cousins-led operation with that defense would be in the playoffs is fun but moot. It perhaps was the best all-around team Cousins has been a part of, at least when both sides clicked in Weeks 7 and 8.

Another future talker will be this specific team’s tendency to shoot itself in the foot. They just continue to hurt themselves by turning the ball over and making crucial mistakes with the game on the line.

Bad Luck Meter
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Turning the ball over at a borderline league-worst rate isn’t a recipe for success. Only the Browns and the Jets have given up the ball more often through 14 games. They had only two games all season without any turnovers, against the Raiders and the Saints. Of course, both of those resulted in a win.

In the six games in which the Vikings at least tied the turnover ratio, they have a record of 6-0, but in the other eight games, they are 1-7. For some teams, finding reasons for the lack of success is tough, but it has been relatively easy in Minnesota. Whenever they hold on to the ball, they are winning games. They are -6 in turnover ratio in the season.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The interesting part is that folks started to identify the problem a couple of weeks ago. It has been the central theme since Week 1, and the coaching staff and the players have been preaching about it every week after every loss. However, they can’t fix the problem with either ball carriers coughing up the ball or quarterbacks just throwing it to defenders.

Things like a suspect running attack, drops on offense, controversial late-game decisions by O’Connell, and late-game breakdowns by the otherwise excellent defense will be forgotten. Those two elements will remain. Turnovers and the injury to the quarterback are the major reasons for another season without why the Vikings will have another year without coming close to having a Super Bowl parade in Minnesota.


Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt

Share: