2023 Season Now Takes Flight for Vikings + Super Bowl Reactions

Getting His Madden
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl LVII was an exciting game highlighted by a terrific comeback from MVP Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs teammates and coaches led by Andy Reid, as they dominated the Eagles in an epic second-half performance.

It had to be encouraging for Vikings Coach Kevin O’Connell and his fellow NFC coaches to see the Eagles vaunted defense dismantled in the second half as the Chiefs scored on all four drives to claim their third Lombardi Trophy (second in four years). 

The Eagles have salary cap issues and 10 starters — along with several key backups — headed to free agency, but they should still be the NFC favorites heading into the 2023 season. They have a dynamic Pro Bowl quarterback in Jalen Hurts, who has established himself as a franchise QB.

2023 Season Now Takes Flight for Vikings + Super Bowl Reactions

Philly also has an excellent offense overall that put up 35 points in the Super Bowl and a defense that was outstanding in the postseason until it wore down due to some age on the defensive line and an underrated Chiefs offensive line along with the best player in the game leading the charge despite re-spraining his ankle in Mahomes.

2023 Season Now
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) celebrates with teammates after scoring a rushing touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Feb. 12, 2023. Nfl Super Bowl Lvii Kansas City Chiefs Vs Philadelphia Eagles

More Super Bowl thoughts later in this article. But some Vikings thoughts first. I always felt the week after the Super Bowl was the signal for the true start of preparing for the next season. Yes, the Vikings scouting staff have been working hard on April’s draft by attending the Senior Bowl and other college all-star games while doing early work on the draft board and getting ready to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis at the end of this month. 

The Vikings coaches have been reviewing the 2022 season, grading the players, and the offensive coaches are starting to fine-tune the playbook while the defensive staff gets started with new coordinator Brian Flores and the needed scheme changes he will bring. 

There are only four weeks until the official start of the 2023 league year on March 15, when the Vikings need to have cleared an estimated $21 million in salary cap room so they are within the $224.8 million league salary cap. 

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell at a Minnesota Timberwolves game in 2022.

GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell will analyze the team’s roster and huddle with VP of Football Ops Rob Brzezinski on salary cap numbers for veteran players, starting with QB Kirk Cousins. Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell must determine which players from their NFC North champion team they want to extend, restructure contracts for cap relief, try to get pay cuts, and cut to free up cap room. Then, they can have the needed cap room to extend Justin Jefferson’s contract and try to add some help to the offensive line and the defense in several spots, especially at cornerback.

Both Super Bowl teams were strong on the offensive line, and it will be interesting to see how the Vikings value center Garrett Bradbury in free agency. Will they seek to re-sign him after he had a better season until his back injury kept him out for several weeks? Was it due to rust that he did not play well when he returned to the lineup in the playoff game against Dexter Lawrence and the Giants? Or will they try to sign a bigger center in free agency? 

What to do at running back with Dalvin Cook’s big contract and Alexander Mattison headed to free agency? Key players on defense are pending free agents, including defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and corner Patrick Peterson. Decisions must be made on defensive players such as Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith for 2023 and beyond. The Vikings likely will re-sign kicker Greg Joseph after his five game-winning kicks last season but at what cost? 

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

As the Vikings seek more team speed, can the 2022 draft class’ injured players — safety Lewis Cine and corners Andrew Booth Jr. and Akayleb Evans — be counted on to make a much-needed bigger impact in 2023? And what are the priorities for April’s draft, where the Vikings have the 23rd pick in the first round (hint: another cornerback)? 

The good news is there is plenty of talent on this 13-win team to build on. It will be fascinating to see what happens over the next few months as the 2023 Vikings roster is put together and fine-tuned.     

Other Super Bowl LVII Reactions:

After dominating the first half and surging to a 10-point lead with Mahomes re-injuring his ankle late in the second quarter, it appeared the Eagles would cruise to an easy victory in Super Bowl LVII.

Not so fast, said Mahomes and Chiefs Coach Andy Reid. Regular season and Super Bowl MVP Mahomes and his supporting cast were unstoppable as the Eagles vaunted defense (No. 2 ranked and league leaders with 70 sacks in regular season) had zero sacks or takeaways and had two costly coverage busts for TDs as the Chiefs scored on all four second-half drives (three TDs and the winning field goal). 

I give credit to a great performance from Mahomes and his offensive line, along with the skill position players and an outstanding coaching job by Reid and also his offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. But I question the Eagles defense at all levels that wore down with these Kansas City second-half stats — 119 rushing yards, 6.3-yard average, and Mahomes completing 13 of 14 passes for 93 yards and 2 TDs. And I question Eagles Coach Nick Sirianni and his defensive coaches for their role in the team’s poor second half. I think Reid and Bieniemy outcoached them.

Hurts and the Eagles offense played well with 35 points scored and a clutch late game-tying drive before Mahomes led the Chiefs to the last-second win (with his 26-yard scramble on a bad ankle, a key play, along with the deserved holding call on Eagles corner James Bradberry that allowed the Chiefs to run out the clock before the winning field goal). 

Now, Sirianni must hire new coordinators after his OC Shane Steichen was hired as Colts head coach, and his DC Jonathan Gannon is leaving for the Cardinals head job (despite his lousy showing in the Super Bowl). 

Then, Eagles GM Howie Roseman has a lot of work to do with keeping the roster at such a high talent level. The team is reportedly $1.3 million over the cap at this time and has 10 starters due to become unrestricted free agents on March 15. Roseman has masterfully managed the cap through contract restructures and using voidable years on contracts. He’ll have to decide how many key players he’ll try to retain through those means and who will be let go. 

And in case you weren’t aware: two of the teams on the Vikings 2023 schedule will be Kansas City at U.S. Bank Stadium and Philadelphia on the road. 

Coming next week: More Vikings pre-free agency insights and the biggest NFL storylines for 2023, starting with — of course — that egomaniac Packers QB who is headed into a four-day “darkness retreat” to ponder his future. 

Jeff Diamond is a former Vikings GM, former Tennessee Titans President and was selected NFL Executive of the Year after the Vikings’ 15-1 season in 1998. He now works for the NFL agent group IFA based in Minneapolis and does other sports consulting and media work along with college/corporate speaking. Follow him and direct message him on Twitter– @jeffdiamondnfl