The Vikings Are Back, and the Fun Starts Tonight.

Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) and wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings were kicked out of the postseason seven months ago — prematurely — by the New York Giants at home in the Wildcard Round.

The club has had many moons to mourn that blunder and improve for the following season.

The Vikings Are Back, and the Fun Starts Tonight.

Well, that following season is now, as the Vikings travel to Seattle for a preseason bout Thursday night with the Seahawks.

the Fun Starts
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) looks on before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The first offseason domino — and perhaps the most significant — occurred immediately after the playoff gaffe. Minnesota cut ties with 2022 defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, hiring Brian Flores in February. Flores coached the Miami Dolphins for three seasons (2019-2021) and the Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers in 2022.

He’s now a member of the purple team and will lead the defense with an aggressive flair, a tactic described by the man personally the moment he touched down in the North Star State.

Vikings to Showcase
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Flores was hired in February 2023 to take over for Ed Donatel after Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed.

Thereafter, free agency arrived, and the Vikings sliced and diced the roster. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said goodbye to notable players, including Cameron Dantzler (CB, Free Agent), Eric Kendricks (LB, Chargers), Patrick Peterson (CB, Steelers), Adam Thielen (WR, Panthers), Dalvin Tomlinson (DT, Browns), Duke Shelley (CB, Raiders), Irv Smith (TE, Bengals), Kris Boyd (CB, Cardinals), and Chandon Sullivan (CB, Steelers), Za’Darius Smith (OLB, Browns — Trade), and Dalvin Cook (RB, Free Agent).

Josh Oliver (TE, Ravens), Marcus Davenport (EDGE, Saints), Byron Murphy (CB, Cardinals), Dean Lowry (DT, Packers), Brandon Powell (WR, Rams), Troy Reeder (LB, Chargers), Joejuan Williams (CB, Patriots) joined via free agency.

Should Sign Veteran CB
Oct 9, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (7) against the Philadelphia Eagles at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Then came April’s draft, and Adofo-Mensah plucked these rookies from the event:

R1: Jordan Addison (WR, USC)
R3: Mekhi Blackmon (CB, USC)
R4: Jay Ward (S, LSU)
R5: Jaquelin Roy (DT, LSU)
R5: Jaren Hall (QB, BYU)
R7: DeWayne McBride (RB, UAB)

Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) takes the field during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The young executive also rushed to the undrafted free-agent wire, signing linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. and outside linebacker Andre Carter II, two men who probably should’ve been drafted somewhere in the middle or late rounds. Pace Jr. and Carter II appear to be on track for 53-man roster spots at the end of the month.

What does all this mean? Well, Minnesota hopes to avoid regression from last season when Kevin O’Connell’s team finished 13-4 and with an NFC North title. The Vikings showcased an underwater point differential last year — opponents somehow collectively outscored them by three points — signaling fears of a step back in 2023 from various national pundits.

The Seahawks interestingly have the same win projection for 2023 — 8.5 wins. They’re slated to finish in second place inside the NFC West behind the San Francisco 49ers, like the Vikings second-fiddle forecast to the Detroit Lions.

The preseason affair kicks off at 9:00 pm CST and can be watched on local stations in typical Vikings markets — or NFL Network outside of the midwest.

The Seahawks are favored by 4.5 points. Minnesota is expected to sit most starters.

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).

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