3 Takeaways from Vikings Year-End Press Conference

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Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell on January 18th, 2022, at Minnesota year-end press conference. O'Connell was joined by Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in Eagan, Minnesota.

The New York Giants downed the Minnesota Vikings 31-24 last weekend at U.S. Bank Stadium in the playoffs, kickstarting Minnesota’s offseason about a week earlier than most expected.

And to put a bow on it, the Vikings primary leadership personalities, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell, held a year-end press conference on Wednesday.

You can watch the event here.

3 Takeaways from Vikings Year-End Press Conference

And here are the three main takeaways from Adofo-Mensah’s and O’Connell’s chat.

Kirk Cousins Is the Plan Forward

3 Takeaways from Vikings
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We’ll cut to the chase: Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was point-blank asked about Kirk Cousins’ future with the Vikings, and he replied, “It’s our expectation that he will be our quarterback.”

Of course, Cousins is under contract through the end of next year and has a no-trade clause. In theory, if Minnesota were ready to be done with Cousins as QB1, it would have to get Cousins’ approval on the trade destination.

Cousins was fantastic against the Giants, but the memorable aspect for some will remain his 4th and 8 throw to TE T.J. Hockenson that would’ve extended the game. Cousins was about to get sacked, dumped the ball to Hockenson, a Giant tackled Hockenson, and the game was over as Cousins threw “short of the sticks.”

Regardless, the next big step on Cousins Watch — if that’s even a thing — is whether Adofo-Mensah adds another year onto his contract. Franchise quarterbacks [not named Lamar Jackson] rarely play on the final year of a deal. If Adofo-Mensah does not extend Cousins, that probably means 2023 is his last in purple.

Cousins will be 35 this summer. But the item learned Wednesday is Cousins will be back, or at least that’s the plan on January 18th. Adofo-Mensah could’ve replied to the question, “We’re evaluating every position, including quarterback.”

But he did not.

Defense Fix Ongoing

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Perhaps the largest takeaway from the press conference involved defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. His role as the team’s defensive chief is absolutely up in the air.

O’Connell said he was in “evaluation mode” regarding Donatell.

The Vikings head coach had a prime opportunity — in front of the media and world — to state, “Donatell is my guy in 2023.” However, he did not say that, so Vikings fans will resume monitoring Donatell’s fate.

The Vikings defense struggled profusely against the Giants and was only really any good in 2022 when it forced turnovers. The “bend but don’t break” strategy was in full effect, and the defense mostly seemed broken, especially in the playoff game.

Still, switching to a 3-4 defense from a 4-3 scheme often takes longer than one year. If Donatell survives O’Connell’s evaluation, that will be the reason.

Justin Jefferson Will Be Paid

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Adofo-Mensah was asked if retaining the soon-to-be Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson would be a challenge. The young executive smirked and said, “I wouldn’t use the word challenge. You got a special player, a special person. Those aren’t problems. Or at least those are champagne problems.”

“So, we’ll start there. We’ve had initial dialogue with him, his agent. All those things we get back to that in the planning, but again it really starts from the player, the person, and we’ll work on solutions from there on,” Adofo-Mensah concluded.

The Vikings are already working on tying Jefferson to the organization for the next six to seven years, per Adofo-Mensah. He ain’t going anywhere.

On Monday, Jefferson told reporters, “I will be wherever I’m wanted. If they want me here, I’m here. That’s not something that I can really control.”

The man will soon be a longterm Viking.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).