Is the Vikings’ Defense Tired?

Flores Flourish
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On Saturday, the Minnesota Vikings went into Cincinnati and nearly came away with an upset victory. Despite looking like the better team throughout the game, they couldn’t slam the door, and the defense faltered down the stretch. That has now become a theme, and Brian Flores must get his defense to fix quickly.

Is the Vikings’ Defense Tired?

A season ago, the Minnesota Vikings employed one of the worst defenses in the National Football League. Ed Donatell’s group was awful, and they continued to find new lows on a weekly basis. Despite an offense clicking behind Kirk Cousins, the opposite side of the ball routinely put them in position to lose.

defense tired
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.

Fast forward to where Kevin O’Connell’s team is now, and Brian Flores has entirely flipped the script. Minnesota’s defense has been great for the vast majority of the year, and they continue to perform on a weekly basis. The problem of late has been that they appear to tire significantly as the game goes on, and without consistent quarterback play, the offense can’t afford to bail them out.

Despite putting up 24 points on Saturday, the Vikings found themselves on the short side of the scoreboard. After the defense gave up 27 points, 24 of which came after the start of the fourth quarter, it was evident where the game was lost.

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Unfortunately, O’Connell called a pair of quarterback sneaks in which Nick Mullens accomplished nothing, which turned the ball back to the Bengals. While the play calling again left plenty to be desired, there simply was no excuse for the Minnesota defense to falter so significantly in the final frame.

Backup quarterback Jake Browning put up 324 yards on 42 attempts and completed a pair of touchdown passes. He weirdly celebrated the victory but should have never been in a position to pull off the comeback. Despite getting to Browning five times in the contest, Minnesota played a much more relaxed defense down the stretch and found themselves flat-footed as the Bengals quarterback took deep shots. Tee Higgins brought in a big catch, scoring twice during the fourth quarter.

With such a substantial lead and only 15 minutes to play, the Vikings needed to continue doing more of what put them in a position to win. Flores dialed up pressure, and Minnesota’s defenders flew to the ball. Ty Chandler helped Mullens throughout the contest, and finishing the job was all that was left to be done.

Future in Minnesota Should
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Looking forward, the Vikings have just three games left, and each is a divisional matchup. They can’t afford to play incomplete games against the Lions or Packers, and a full 60 minutes will be required each week if they want to still make the playoffs.

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.