There’s No Quit in These Vikings

Vikings 2023 Super Bowl Odds
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell looks on during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

People on the outside have repeatedly told those in Minnesota to give up on this season and trade away assets. After losing the first three games of the season, that opinion was rife and returned with force following the season-ending injury to QB Kirk Cousins.

Anyone expecting, or even hoping, for the Vikings to throw in the towel was left disappointed and will continue to be so — there’s no quit in these Vikings. Competitive rebuild is the mantra this Vikings leadership is going to live by, and it was evidenced again on the NFL’s trade deadline day.

There’s No Quit in These Vikings

The idea of “tanking” as a way to expedite success is strange. The Vikings want to build a winning culture, and I applaud that. The idea of opposing that in favor of the lottery ticket that is draft picks doesn’t make sense. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell have made significant changes since arriving in the organization, and despite lots of criticism, the Vikings sit with a 17-9 (including postseason) record since their arrival. 

no quit
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah talks with head coach Kevin O’Connell prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Blowing everything up was never on the cards in Minnesota, no matter how many national media outlets filled their trade theory columns with talk of Vikings exiting. It seemed every Viking of note was put into a trade theory over the last couple of months. Kirk Cousins, Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith, Jordan Hicks, and even Justin Jefferson — none of them left.

The one player who did leave — as I suspected he might — was Ezra Cleveland. Dalton Risner got his chance at left guard with Cleveland missing a couple of games through injury. Risner played well and made the soon-to-be out-of-contract Risner expendable.

That move recouped the sixth-round pick the Vikings had just sent to Arizona to acquire QB Josh Dobbs. Adding a quarterback who had started all eight games for the Cardinals this season to the roster was a sure sign the Vikings aim to stay competitive.

Sep 17, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs (9) warms up prior to facing the New York Giants at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports.

Jaren Hall will start on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, and hopefully, he will step in and prove he can handle the job. Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has this to say Tuesday about the prospect of Hall getting a chance to start. “I think there’s a way that he can play, that we can function.” If Hall isn’t up to the task, Dobbs is capable enough to give the Vikings a chance to win games inside a stacked Vikings offense. 

Why the Vikings Can Still Be Competitive

Everyone in the Vikings organization clearly believes they can still be competitive, and with good reason.

The tough games on the schedule were front-loaded, and the Vikings have come through that tricky part of the schedule with a .500 record. There are still some difficult games left, including two meetings with the division-leading Detroit Lions in the last three weeks of the season. Before the first Lions game, the Vikings travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals, so it looks like a difficult finish to the season. 

Oct 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) leaves the field after the game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

First, the Vikings have five winnable games against the Falcons, Saints, Broncos, Bears, and Raiders. If the Vikings win at least four of those games, they will be on the brink of the playoffs. Can they do it? The Falcons may go with Taylor Heinicke at QB after benching Desmond Ridder. The Raiders are handing the reigns over to fourth-round rookie Aidan O’Connell, and the Bears currently have undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent playing quarterback.

Minnesota will miss Cousins. He was playing incredibly well this season, but Hall and Dobbs are in a great position to be successful.

The Vikings offense almost has everything needed to help a quarterback be successful — and if they can get more out of the run game, they will have everything. For the rookie, there is a general feeling of let’s just take a look at what we have with low expectations. Brian Flores has his defense playing in a fashion that should also keep the Vikings competitive, especially against some of the inexperienced QB’a coming up on the schedule.

There’s no quit in these Vikings, and they will carry on fighting. How far can they go without Cousins? Time will tell, but Minnesota still believes they can make some noise this season.