Vikings’ Offense to Be Shorthanded on Saturday

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Injuries have hurt the Vikings a lot in the 2023 season. Losing Kirk Cousins for the season hasn’t stopped the team from winning, as they are 3-2 without Cousins and 5-2 in the seven games without Justin Jefferson. However, there is a point where it is too much to overcome, and Kevin O’Connell’s group will again be tested in Week 15.

Vikings’ Offense to Be Shorthanded on Saturday

Offense to Be Shorthanded on Saturday
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The offense is coming off a game with just three scored points. Usually, that performance deserves a loss, but the defense kept them in the game, and not committing any turnovers also helped. In that game, the Vikings lost Justin Jefferson, Alexander Mattison, and Brian O’Neill, with some other brief absences.

For a while, the offensive line was down to only two starters, Garrett Bradbury and Christian Darrisaw. O’Neill and Dalton Risner exited with ankle injuries, and Ed Ingram missed the contest entirely. Down to guys like Austin Schlottmann, Blake Brandel, and David Quessenberry, the offense desperately needs some of those guys back in the lineup.

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And indeed, things are looking good for the two guards to block for new starting quarterback Nick Mullens, while O’Neill will miss Week 15 with an ankle injury, his first absence of the season. The stalwart right tackle partially tore his Achilles tendon in Week 17 of the 2022 season and was limited for the majority of training camp. However, he started 2023 at his usual right tackle spot, playing at his normal high level.

Last year, he was replaced by Oli Udoh, who is out for the season with a quad injury. Quessenberry replaced him in Las Vegas, although Brandel could be a longshot option. Veteran Quessenberry is a fantastic run blocker that should help make the running game more efficient.

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The problem is that the running attack will also be without a key player. Mattison, who also suffered an ankle injury in Las Vegas, has also been ruled out — an unfortunate injury as Mattison has started to play really well in the last few games. Sophomore Ty Chandler is expected to get the majority of the load in the running game, something many fans have wanted the Vikings to do anyway.

With the lack of depth at the position with Cam Akers and Mattison unavailable, there will also be some Kene Nwangwu on offense, and rookie DeWayne McBride might make his NFL debut. Veteran Myles Gaskin is also on the practice squad.

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Jalen Nailor, who suffered a concussion on Sunday, has also been ruled out. With the pass-catchers all having a bad day and Jefferson missing roughly three quarters, it was Nailor who the coaches turned to to give the passing offense a spark.

Jefferson and backup guard Chris Reed are questionable, although the star receiver said he will play on Saturday. That is fantastic news for the offense, as he has shown the ability to carry the unit, and having a player of his caliber available always makes the operation go smoother.

Brian Flores Weighs
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Regardless of personnel, the offense desperately needs to improve to give the team a chance to win games going forward. Winning games by scoring three points is not sustainable.

After three years of shaky defenses, the Vikings once again have their strength on the defensive side of the ball. Brian Flores and his group will continue to shoulder a huge load.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt