Could the Vikings Have Football’s Best Offense?

Justin Jefferson Quietly
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates his touchdown against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

When the Minnesota Vikings went into the 2023 NFL Draft, they had more than a few areas of need. With Kirk Cousins on the last year of his deal, grabbing a quarterback could have been enticing. Rather than going under center, their first pick was out wide, and now they could put up top offense type of numbers.

Could the Vikings Have Football’s Best Offense?

A season ago, Justin Jefferson set the NFL landscape on fire when he put the league on notice, quickly ascending to the top at his position. While it may be debatable that another player is the top wide receiver in the NFL, there is no denying that Jefferson is in the conversation. Kirk Cousins found him early and often last season, and the duo looked to set records.

Have Football’
Sep 30, 2022; Thundridge, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson at press conference at Hanbury Manor. From 2020 to 2022, Jefferson accrued the most receiving yards in NFL history by a player in his first three seasons. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, the offense was a bit too predictable as Adam Thielen didn’t have the same release on the edge, and Dalvin Cook clearly wasn’t the same running back up the middle. Looking to not only improve what was a league-worst defense last year but take another step forward on offense, Minnesota could have the best unit in football.

In selecting Jordan Addison with their first-round pick this offseason, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah gave Kevin O’Connell another toy to play with. Cousins has put up strong numbers in the passing game for quite some time, but he has done so without a group that can take pressure off Jefferson. With Addison on the other side of the field, one would hope that opposing defenses will be burned if they try to cover anyone individually.

Watch for Kirk Cousins
Nov 10, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) reacts to a first down run in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.

Addison brings a unique skillset to the wide receiver position in that he can lineup both outside and in the slot. He is not the same type of player that Jefferson is, and Addison has shown an ability to contribute in a multitude of different ways during his collegiate days with both Pittsburgh and USC.

Beyond just the wide receiver position, Minnesota will now get a full year of T.J. Hockenson in their offense. Inserted through a trade with the Detroit Lions, Hockenson was immediately a difference maker but was also acclimating on the fly. He will now go through a full offseason program and training camp, working with teammates to further assimilate himself into the gameplan.

Notably, Dalvin Cook won’t be on the Vikings sideline this year, but that could also open new avenues for O’Connell. Even if Minnesota doesn’t explore adding another back through free agency, Alexander Mattison can get the job done when asked. He may have been the best backup across the league, and there isn’t much reason to believe he’ll be tasked with carrying the load on his own. Ty Chandler was a standout in limited early action last year, and sprinkling him in alongside Mattison can create new looks for the Vikings.

The Vikings 2021 Offense by the Numbers: After Week 1
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) in action against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

As was the case last year, Minnesota will need to score plenty to supplement a lackluster defense. The hope would be that Brian Flores can coach that unit up to a level of competency that evens things out, but either way, this offense should be more than up to the task.

Playing on the final year of his deal, you can bet that Cousins will be out to prove he is worth every penny. Whether he finds another extension with Minnesota or not, the greater stats he can rack up in the season ahead, the better leverage he will have at the negotiating table with another suitor. Spreading the ball between playmakers such as Jefferson, Addison, and Hockenson will only help him expand his career passing numbers.

Last year O’Connell was getting his feet wet as a head coach and putting a strong foot forward. With a full year under his belt and understanding what tweaks he’ll want to make to improve his offense and team as a whole, the limits for this team as a scoring threat could be tested in new ways during the year ahead.

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.