Vikings Must Unleash Reinforcements in Week 4

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Through the first three weeks of the 2023 NFL regular season, the Minnesota Vikings are still winless, and as they look to reverse their fortunes, including the reinforcements they’ve added is a must. Statistically speaking, the season is all but over from a playoff perspective, but salvaging anything requires a changing of the guard.

Vikings Must Unleash Reinforcements in Week 4

After disappointing results on a short week against the Philadelphia Eagles, they decided the offensive line needed help and signed free agent guard Dalton Risner. Not long after, and following more fumbling problems, they decided that the running back room was also a rudderless ship. Kevin O’Connell reunited with former coworker Cam Akers, and a pair of reinforcements had been added to the Vikings roster.

viking must unleash
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With general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah suggesting that Minnesota will be going through a competitive rebuild, swapping out pieces on the fly makes a good deal of sense. Up front, Ed Ingram has been a problem for a while, and although the second-year player is still looking to make notable improvements, his employer may not have the good fortune of waiting to see it happen.

During the Week 3 contest at home against the Los Angeles Chargers, Ingram posted a 91.1 grade from Pro Football Focus as a run blocker. That was notable given the ability of Alexander Mattison to find holes on the ground, and the Vikings saw substantial success in the running game. However, he allowed six pressures, pushing his season total to 13, and allowed Kirk Cousins to be sacked twice. Ingram also was flagged for holding twice, and he has already caused a fumble for his quarterback.

Ideally, the Vikings would find themselves in a position where Ingram can be a future piece. Drafted out of LSU last year, finding a talent up front that can play between solid bookends is a good come-up. Unfortunately, he has never really looked the part. Risner is an established NFL veteran, and while his success has largely been tied to run protection, he is someone that O’Connell should immediately feel comfortable plugging into his starting lineup.

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If the Vikings can give Risner a 14-game sample as a starter the rest of the way, they would have a significant opportunity to evaluate his viability going forward. More of a left guard, Risner could take that position from Ezra Cleveland next year, and the hope would be that he can impart some sort of learning on the youngster Ingram. Either way, what has taken place up front thus far isn’t working.

Then there’s the addition of Akers. While the Vikings didn’t pay a premium for the former Los Angeles Rams starter, they definitely didn’t bring him in to sit on the bench. It’s noteworthy that Mattison did damage against the Chargers on the ground last Sunday, but that was the first showing where he provided any value this season. It also came with the caveat that he again should have lost a costly fumble, and it seems necessary that the monster in the backfield become a two-headed one.

New Blood on the Way
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Earlier this week, Minnesota opted to move on from Myles Gaskin, at least on the active roster, whom they acquired as a third running back going into the season. That’s reflective of Ty Chandler being pushed down to the third spot on the depth chart, and if Akers isn’t starting on Sunday, he absolutely can’t be less than the 1B.

O’Connell must integrate Akers into the offense, especially given his practice leadup with over a week to prepare. It won’t be expected that Akers has immediately grasped all of the offensive concepts, but allowing him to work in space and take away some of Mattison’s touches certainly needs to happen. The Vikings brought Mattison back with the thought he could be their lead back, but he’s been given that opportunity and thus far done little to run away with it.

If the Vikings are going to switch things up and look for a different process in hopes of better results, Week 4 is the time to get things going.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.