New Viking Named ‘Make or Break’ Player for 2023
The Minnesota Vikings most significant point of emphasis heading into the 2023 offseason was improving the team’s defense — and rightfully so.
Despite a 13-4 record last year, the franchise allowed the third-most points to opponents in Kevin O’Connell’s first year on the job and the second-most yards. It was a ride.
New Viking Named’ Make or Break’ Player for 2023
And to ensure those lousy metrics don’t exist in 2023, O’Connell hired Brian Flores to run defensive operations, a former head coach of the Miami Dolphins. He replaced Ed Donatell, who ran the show on defense in 2022, his one season in charge.
In addition to Flores as the boss, newcomer free-agent cornerback Byron Murphy is the Vikings ‘make or break’ player this season, according to Bleacher Report.
BR’s Gary Davenport defined Minnesota as a contender — most pundits aren’t doing that this offseason — and classified Murhpy as a pivot point on the Vikings roster. He explained, “Minnesota’s dismal pass defense has to improve by leaps and bounds — and the key to that improvement is free agent signee Byron Murphy. It’s not just that Murphy has to assume the role of No. 1 cornerback for the Vikings. He has to be a leader for a young group of corners. Make the players around him better.”
Murphy joined the Vikings in March for two years and $17.5 million and is a depth chart necessity because 2022 corners Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, Cameron Dantzler, Chandon Sullivan, and Kris Boyd left in the last three months.
Davenport seemed to fall into a not-very-enthused-ab0ut-Murphy camp but continued, “To be brutally honest, it’s not especially likely. Murphy is a good cornerback, but he isn’t a great one —in two of his four pro seasons (including 2022), he posted a passer rating against of over 100. Murphy has to be better—or the Vikings won’t make the playoffs at all.”
While Murphy is an essential and versatile component in the Vikings new secondary, he’s not the only cornerback required to flourish. Because the aforementioned 2022 combatants left for other teams, someone — and probably two or three men — must ascend to proficiency from a group containing Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, Joejuan Williams, Tay Gowan, and rookie Mekhi Blackmon. Murphy-only won’t fix a damn thing; he should instead be considered the group’s anchor while a different young player emerges.
Murphy has played 56 games (48 starts) since entering the NFL in 2019 as a 2nd-Round pick by the Arizona Cardinals. He’s logged 229 total tackles and 5 interceptions in four seasons. Murphy also missed eight games in 2022 because of a back strain. Fans will monitor his health and early-season performance to the utmost.
The Vikings onboarded ex-Cardinal Patrick Peterson from free agency, too, and he turned out pretty spiffy for a couple of seasons. We shall see if the trend continues with Murphy. He must for Minnesota to succeed, per Bleacher Report.
Davenport also named Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers and Jamal Adams from the Seattle Seahawks, among others, as ‘make or break’ players for their respective teams.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).