JJ Watt Gives Glowing Endorsement for New Guy + Vikings

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At the beginning of March, the NFLPA released its players’ report cards, where the Minnesota Vikings sat proudly in first place, scoring no less than A- in any of the eight categories — an impressive feat that shows the foundations of success being built.

JJ Watt Gives Glowing Endorsement for New Guy + Vikings

After nearly five decades as equipment manager, Dennis Ryan retired from his post, and the Vikings have moved quickly to fill the vacant with Mike Parson. On Twitter, JJ Watt Gives a glowing endorsement to not only Parson, the equipment manager in Houston between 2015 and 2020, but also the Vikings organization.

Ultimately, you win football games on the field, but the NFL is a league of small margins. Every team is looking for the slightest edge to give them an advantage, and the Vikings are doing that with how players perceive them. The stadium and facilities are top-tier, and the culture emphasized during the prices that saw Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell appointed to their positions is being built.

Building A Winning Franchise

jj watt gives
Image Courtesy of Drew Doughtery on Twitter. Kyle Kamau (left) & Mike Parson (right)

Fans tend to mainly look at the players to judge if the team is doing well, and ultimately how they perform during games matters the most, but teams can do a lot to put their players in the best position to succeed. Take the Vikings 2022 season; on the back of two losing seasons, Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell produced a 13-win season and division title. They did this with minimal change to player personnel and without throwing cash at big-name signings.

The Vikings found the little edge that turned narrow defeats of previous seasons into narrow wins. Some pointed to the close nature of the wins as proof “weren’t as good as their record,” and to a degree, that was true. The Vikings weren’t as talented as Kansas City, Buffalo, and Philadelphia, but 13 wins don’t happen by accident. Minnesota got the most out of what they had: a good offense and a lousy defense with individuals who could make big plays.

Can Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell continue to get the best out of what they have while making the roster of plays significantly better? The culture so often talked about is the base for that to happen. If you keep winning double-digit games a season, making the playoffs, and having a reputation of being a great place to come to work, you will keep your best players happy and wanting to stay — this will be tested with Justin Jefferson, TJ Hockenson, and Christian Darrisaw- and help you attract the best players to your team.

The Future

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Adofo-Mensah was tasked with coming in and sorting out the mess left by his predecessor while continuing to be competitive — a difficult task. Taking the Chicago Bears approach of clearing the decks and being bad for a year or two is a more straightforward assignment. The Vikings GM is navigating getting the Vikings out of a salary cap hole while still putting a roster together capable of making the playoffs. 

Then there’s the quarterback situation. Will the Vikings draft a QB to be the heir apparent to Kirk Cousins? If the rookie takes over in 2024, is the expectation to remain competitive, or will there be breathing space for the young QB? Minnesota has plenty of offensive weapons for a young quarterback to be successful, and if Brian Flores can get the defense moving in the right direction, they will have a chance.

I believe there’s a lot to be excited about with the future in Minnesota. One thing the franchise does need is a good draft in 2023. Initial results of the 2022 draft are lukewarm, with injuries to Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth, and Akayleb Evans hampering what we say in Year 1. Still, a draft shouldn’t be judged after one year; if Cine and Booth become starters, alongside Ed Ingram and Brian Asamoah, things suddenly look different. 

A good draft this year, with better luck with injuries and more immediate success, or alternatively, a QB the fan base can get behind. Then everyone can feel more positive about Adofo-Mensah’s ability to draft.