Vikings Draw Rough Prediction for 2024 Season

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When Kevin O’Connell was hired, his goal was to accomplish what no Vikings head coach has ever done: winning the Super Bowl. Through two seasons, he has changed the culture in the building to a much more positive mindset, but the results mirror Mike Zimmer’s tenure. A trip to the postseason was followed by a 17-game season. Injuries played a role, but consistency has been a problem for over a decade, as the last consecutive seasons with playoff appearances were 2008 and 2009.

Vikings Draw Rough Prediction for 2024 Season

Vikings Draw Rough Prediction for 2024 Season
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The story in Minnesota has been for quite a while that the roster is too good to blow it all up but not good enough to be really competing for a Super Bowl, in addition to having an ownership group and the general managers who aren’t into committing towards a full rebuild. While that is a controversial topic in Vikings circles, recent Super Bowl teams haven’t formed their rosters by rebuilding but by drafting well regardless of draft position, while the Vikings failed to reload the roster.

But 2024 could be one of those years. Potentially losing Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter, two of the team’s best players, in free agency, the Vikings could enter a transformational year, one without any ambitions but developing young players. Inserting a rookie quarterback is also not beneficial for short-term success.

Vikings QB Situation
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Well, there is a reason why some pundits expect the Vikings to fall even further in the 2024 season after tabulating a 7-10 record with a bunch of backup quarterbacks for nine games in the previous campaign.

Jeff Kerr, CBS Sports, named five teams “poised to take a major fall in 2024,” and the purple team made his list.

The Vikings were primed to take a fall from their 13-4 record in 2022, and they did, experiencing a six-game drop off in 2023. Minnesota has excellent pass-catching talent with Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, but T.J. Hockenson may be out for the majority of 2024 recovering from ACL and MCL surgery. 

Then there’s Kirk Cousins, who is a free agent and the glue to this whole season. Do the Vikings want to pay more than $40 million to a 35-year-old quarterback who has won one playoff game in his six seasons with the team? Or is it time to move on and find the next franchise quarterback in the draft?

At least the Vikings have Brian Flores to lead the defense, as they improved from 27th in points allowed per possession in 2022 to 18th in 2023. Without Cousins in an NFC North with the Detroit Lions, along with the rising Green Bay Packers and improving Chicago Bears, this year could be a rough one for the Vikings.

Hockenson could indeed miss some time, but the Vikings should still be fine unless he is out for the majority of the season, which is unexpected. Injuries are part of the game. With Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison roaming outside, just waiting for their opportunities to defeat cornerbacks on any given rep, the passing attack will continue to be dynamic.

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy celebrates after the 34-13 win over Washington to win the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

The only thing that could prevent that is the quarterback position. Cousins is set to be a free agent, and his departure would leave a gushing hole. Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall are under contract for another season but shouldn’t be the Week 1 starters under any circumstances. Drafting a rookie passer in April makes a lot of sense, but that young signal-caller is unlikely to be as productive as Cousins in his debut season.

Brian Flores has improved his defense, but it is still far from great with an unproven and shaky cornerback group, virtually no defensive line, and Andre Carter is currently a starting pass-rusher. The Vikings must invest draft capital and salary cap to hand Flores the personnel he needs to run his defense. Re-signing Hunter, D.J. Wonnum, or Jordan Hicks could be an option, just as signing some outside free agents and adding talented draft prospects.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

A team can and should be expected to decline whenever a quarterback is leaving, and some key positions are yet to be filled. However, until it is known how general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah answers those questions, it is too early to panic about the 2024 campaign. He has some work to do, and the next three months will be crucial for the following season and the organization’s future.

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