3 Things Vikings Should Fix during the Bye Week

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The Minnesota Vikings are back at a .500 record just a couple of weeks after sitting comfortably in playoff position. Back-to-back losses to the Chicago Bears and the Denver Broncos were a large setback, although the team is still on a playoff course. The two defeats and the season as a whole showed some problems that should be addressed.

3 Things Vikings Should Fix during the Bye Week

The bye week is a great time for Kevin O’Connell and his coaching staff to do some self-scouting and figure out what’s keeping the purple team from winning more than half of the matchups.

1. Fix the Running Game

Rushing the football was a point of emphasis all offseason after a horrendous rushing attack in 2022. After 12 games, it is fair to say that the things they have done to improve that part of their offense haven’t worked one bit.

3 Things Vikings Should Fix During the Bye Week
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Alexander Mattison hasn’t proven that he can consistently carry the ball for a solid gain as he ranks close to the bottom of the league in various statistics like EPA/run or rushing yards over expected. Ty Chandler has given the offense a spark with his explosiveness, but the coaching staff doesn’t seem to trust him.

The positive is that the running offense has taken steps in the right direction recently, especially Mattison, who had decent games in back-to-back weeks running the ball besides the unacceptable fumble in Denver.

This late in a season, the personnel won’t change, and O’Connell must work with the guys he has on the offensive line and as the ball carriers. He must figure out what type of runs are working and throw the other plays out of the playbook. A team that is featuring a backup quarterback needs a functioning running game.

2. Fix the Two-Minute Defense

Brian Flores has done wonders with his suspect player material on defense, and even injuries can’t slow his unit down. He transformed a bottom-feeder defense into a top-ten group and is rightfully named among head coaching candidates.

Aspect of Vikings
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In the last two losses combined, Flores’ defense has allowed only a single touchdown, so there shouldn’t be any blame placed on the coordinator or his players. Regardless, they have shown one flaw: the end-of-game scenario. Russell Wilson, his Broncos, Justin Fields, and his Bears were kept in check for most of the matchups, but when it mattered most, they put their team in position to win the games.

Flores somehow changed his approach, staying away from blitzes and playing more coverage. It didn’t work, and the Vikings eventually lost. While the defense gave the offense many opportunities to win the games and even kept them competitive when the offense was stagnant, they couldn’t make the stops when it mattered most.

3. Fix the Turnover Problems

In all six losses, the Vikings lost the turnover battle. It is the obvious reason why the team isn’t fighting for the division or even the conference and instead is close to falling out of the playoff picture. O’Connell is 16-0 when his team at least ties the turnover battle.

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Fumbles were a huge problem at the beginning of the season. Once the players started to hold on to the football, they started to win games. A couple of weeks ago, those problems returned, with quarterback Joshua Dobbs becoming a turnover machine, directly leading to two losses.

O’Connell claimed he would bench players who continue giving the ball away, and Dobbs might be benched for that reason. At the end of the day, giving up possessions in favorable field position is the easiest way to lose football games and as long as the Vikings keep doing that, they won’t be a serious team in the NFC.

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