Vikings Offense Could Be in Trouble

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) reacts with wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) after scoring his first career touchdown pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings already own a 1-4 record this season, which stems from many areas. Heading to Chicago for a matchup against the Bears at Soldier Field, Kevin O’Connell’s offense might be a new issue.

Vikings Offense Could Be in Trouble

Despite winning all of their one-score games a season ago, the Vikings have found themselves undisciplined and coming up short in those contests this year. O’Connell has constantly fought against miscues and mental mistakes while making some of his own. After the defense was a substantial issue in 2022, the offense could now trend toward problematic levels in the next few weeks.

With Justin Jefferson going down during the Kansas City Chiefs game, the Vikings quickly experienced life without the league’s best wide receiver. Jefferson sustained a hamstring injury that has since landed him on injured reserve, and he will remain there for at least the next four weeks.

Vikings Offense Could Be in Trouble
Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Kansas City Chiefs safety Mike Edwards (21) breaks up a pass to Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

It sounds like Jefferson’s injury won’t be season-ending, which is good news. He is looking for a contract extension, which will happen regardless of what the numbers look like this season. Rather than challenging Clavin Johnson’s single-season yardage record, though, he’ll be returning to a Minnesota squad playing more for a draft pick than the postseason.

The absence of such a player in the lineup creates new challenges for Minnesota. A year ago, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah traded for tight end T.J. Hockenson to give quarterback Kirk Cousins another receiving option. That came after the team lost Irv Smith Jr. to injury and was a replacement at the position rather than a net gain.

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) celebrates his touchdown with teammates against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Now, the Vikings are without Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and Justin Jefferson. They have replaced those talents with Cam Akers, Alexander Mattison, and Jordan Addison. Barring Addison’s breakout of substantial levels, the offense will be a much more watered-down version of what we have come to know. 

Hockenson has been a great infusion of talent but has had an up-and-down season to this point. We haven’t seen K.J. Osborn take a substantial step forward, and Mattison has been a bit of a mixed bag. The hope would be that Akers can provide somewhat of a dynamic presence in the backfield, and we’ll see accelerated development from Addison.

For a first-round pick, asking a player like Addison to produce out of the gate is hardly egregious. He has looked more than serviceable thus far and now will be allowed to have the passing game run through him. Presented with such an opportunity so early in his career is something of a sink-or-swim moment, but we’ll see whether he can rise to the occasion.

Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) catches a pass for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

In recent weeks, the output of the offensive line has been much better, and it has given Cousins a greater opportunity to succeed. We will now need to see what that looks like with fewer weapons at his disposal. If there’s a silver lining regarding timing, it could certainly be that the first test run in this new reality comes against the hapless Bears.

Here’s to seeing everyone grow up and glow up right before our eyes.

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.