3 Most Surprising Developments of Vikings Season So Far

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) reacts with wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) after scoring his first career touchdown pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have 15 games to go, dropping the first two to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles, a disheartening start after a 13-4 record in 2022.

3 Most Surprising Developments of Vikings Season So Far

The Los Angeles Chargers travel to Minnesota for a date with the Vikings in one week, a contest almost feeling like a must-win for the purple team.

Last Order
Nov 14, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) flexes to the crowd after hanging on to a complete pass for a first down in the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.

And with two games in the rearview, these are the three most surprising developments of the Vikings young season so far. They’re ranked in ascending order (No. 1 = most surprising).

3. Minnesota Doesn’t Run the Ball

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Todd Bowles hug after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Inexplicably, the Vikings have rushed the football 26 times in two games. And that’s after eight months of an offseason where the club expressly stated its intention to run the ball more than it did in 2022.

Minnesota has point-blank done the opposite, running the ball less than its unusually low clip from a year ago. The head coach is a former quarterback, so it makes sense that he’ll frequently rest on his laurels and fling the rock — but this low rush pace is mind-bending.

The Vikings have rushed the pigskin the third-least in NFL history of all teams through the first two games of a season. They don’t have to “establish the run” as a mantra going forward but must find playcalling balance.

2. Jordan Addison + Ivan Pace Are Legitimate

Surprising Developments
Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott (35) runs with the ball past Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

Jordan Addison has caught two touchdown passes in two games, one of the season’s saving graces to date as the club ponders a 0-2 record. He’s the real deal, showing the masses why the Vikings brass selected him in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft when it should have, on paper, drafted a cornerback like Deonte Banks.

Meanwhile, Ivan Pace isn’t just playing well for an undrafted rookie — he’s performing well by a veteran’s standards. Through a couple of games, the Cincinnati alumnus is one of the best rookie defenders in the NFL. Eric Kendricks to the Los Angeles Chargers feels less daunting with Pace acclimating so swiftly to the big leagues.

Both men are undisputed shiny bright spots amid two games that have otherwise gone off the rails.

1. Turnover Fiends and Not in a Good Way

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have turned the ball over seven times in eight quarters — six fumbles and 1 interception. Their -6 points differential is akin to the -9 point differential, which is odd. The latter should be huge.

Last year, Minnesota had no such turnover malady, at least not at this breakneck pace. The club has a few areas to improve, including rushing offense, pass protection, and run defense, but none are as urgent as giving the ball to opponents free of charge.

In truth, the Vikings appear to be a good football team with a fumbling problem.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.