Analyst Tabs Vikings for Weak Finish in Division

The Vikings National
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell comes off the field after the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

For most of the 2023 offseason, the Minnesota Vikings have been labeled as the probable second-place finisher in the NFC North behind the Detroit Lions.

Well, it’s time to move down a notch into third place, according to’s Bucky Brooks. Analyst Tabs Vikings for Weak Finish in Division

Brooks forecasted the NFC North hierarchy last week, becoming one of the first prominent NFL personalities to nominate the Green Bay Packers for a division title. He foresaw the Lions in second place and — you guessed — the Vikings in third place inside the division.

Weak Finish
Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; NFL Network host Rhett Lewis (left), analyst Bucky Brooks (center) and draft media analyst Lance Zierlein during the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota underwent considerable upheaval in the last six months, jettisoning expensive, aging veterans like Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, Eric Kendricks, and Patrick Peterson, among others, while welcoming and promoting younger and more affordable players.

The problem, evidently, is Brooks doesn’t think it’s a strategy that will work.

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell introduced new Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores from the TCO Performance Center on February 15th, 2023. Flores coached for the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, and Pittsburgh Steelers before joining the Vikings in 2023.

“The team’s offseason roster purge included longtime franchise stalwarts Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks. Decorated veterans Za’Darius Smith and Patrick Peterson have also exited stage. Defensively, Minnesota’s coming off a disastrous season that saw the team finish 28th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed,” Brooks explained.

The Vikings indeed struggled defensively last year, and that’s why they cut ties with the older players and hired a new coordinator in Brian Flores.

Jun 7, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on during mandatory minicamp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Brooks added about the Vikings potential Achilles’ heel, “Brian Flores was an inspired offseason hire, but the new defensive coordinator takes over a unit hurting for experience and expertise in key spots (SEE: pass rusher, middle linebacker and cornerback). This will force Coach Flo to utilize a smoke-and-mirrors approach that features a myriad of blitzes and games to mask the unit’s deficiencies. While the new DC is a masterful tactician and strategist, Minnesota might simply lack the Jimmys and Joes to make Flores’ Xs and Os come to life.”

Flores transformed the Dolphins defense in 2018 from one of the league’s worst to one of the league’s best by 2020. It’s worth noting, however, Miami’s defense was horrid in Flores’ first year (2019).

Vikings to Showcase
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Flores was hired in February 2023 to take over for Ed Donatel after Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed.

While Brooks may not be correct about the third-place finish — we shall see — he is on to something about the defense, on the whole. Minnesota tallied a 13-4 record with the NFL’s third-worst defense per points allowed in 2022. If Flores can drag the unit to respectability, the sky can be the limit for the 2023 Vikings, as most fans and pundits aren’t concerned about the team’s offense. You can thank Justin Jefferson’s presence on the roster for that, with a side dish of Kevin O’Connell’s employment.

Brooks commented on the Vikings offense with the regular season 10 weeks away, “I’m excited to see what this offense looks like in Year 2 under Kevin O’Connell. The coach has been pumping up Kirk Cousins’ growth in the system this offseason. It’s not hard imagining an aerial circus with Cousins throwing the ball all over the yard. Minnesota could win the division by torching opponents with a high-powered offense that pushes the pace for 60 minutes.”

The Vikings haven’t won back-to-back division titles since 2008-2009.

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).

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