Veteran Viking Wins Defensive Player of the Week

National Opinion of the Vikings Is Different from Yours
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Brian Flores’ defense in Minnesota is starting to take shape, and one can tell because individual players are winning weekly awards.

Veteran Viking Wins Defensive Player of the Week

On Wednesday, Jordan Hicks took home the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week honor.

The veteran linebacker produced a marvelous showing at the Chicago Bears last weekend, tallying 10 total tackles, a fumble recovery, an interception, a pass deflection, and a touchdown. In fact, his scoop-and-score midway through the third quarter proved to be the game-breaking play that would notch Minnesota’s second win of 2023.

The Vikings defense ranks 15th per DVOA and 16th via EPA/Play through six games, marks that have soared in the last three weeks. The Flores defense has jelled, shutting down the Carolina Panthers blah offense, disallowing a track meet versus the Kansas City Chiefs, and clamping down on the Bears.

And Hicks is a central component.

Veteran Viking Wins
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The usual suspects like Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith, and Harrison Phillips have done their part, and along the way, Hicks has undeniably done his part.

Hicks became a Viking in 2022 as a replacement for Anthony Barr, who later joined the Dallas Cowboys and remains a free agent in 2023. In his first year, with a defense led by Ed Donatell, Hicks didn’t bust out into stardom, and the defense, on the whole, struggled mightily until the 4th Quarter of games.

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports.

But in Flores‘ system, Hicks has been reborn beyond the shadow of a doubt. Heading into Week 7, Hicks ranks 11th in the NFL among all inside linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus, registering an 80.3 grade and helping to solidify the middle of Minnesota’s evolving defense. His counterpart, Ivan Pace, too, has made his mark, recording a 77.2 PFF score, good enough for 19th-best in the sport.

So, yes, through six weeks, the Vikings employ two Top 20 off-ball linebackers, at least per PFF’s scoring system. Hicks has totaled 53 total tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 passes defended, 1 tackles for loss, an interception, and a touchdown this season.

Keeping Jordan Hicks Is a Smart Move by Vikings
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) against Green Bay Packers during their football game on Sunday, January 1, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. © Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

For context on Hicks’ growth in the Flores scheme, here’s his PFF resume since entering the business in 2015:

  • 2015: 80.9
  • 2016: 88.4
  • 2017: 64.3
  • 2018: 75.1
  • 2019: 61.0
  • 2020: 50.4
  • 2021: 64.7
  • 2022: 65.4
  • 2023: 80.3

The man has turned back the clock to his younger self and is a bright spot in a Vikings defense that has struggled in early-season games versus the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Chargers but improved as of late.

The Vikings Top Defensive Performers at Commanders, per PFF
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Hicks is scheduled for free agency in five months, along with notable Vikings players Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter. It’s unclear if he’ll return to Minnesota for a third campaign, but his 2023 efforts more than deserve consideration for another hurrah.

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