Vikings Future Is Brighter than It Looks After Foes’ Playoff Wins

Choice for the NFC
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Brett Favre haunted the Vikings’ franchise for years, winning the NFC North seven times with the Packers until Aaron Rodgers took over. Another Hall of Fame quarterback, Rodgers, dominated the NFC North for years, and the Vikings had to take advantage of some flawed seasons from their archrivals to secure a division title. With Jordan Love’s emergence and Detroit’s recent success, folks in Minnesota have started to be a little nervous about their franchise.

Vikings Future Is Brighter than It Looks After Foes’ Playoff Wins

They have been nervous for good reason. Detroit’s culture change led to a division title and the first playoff win in three decades. There’s suddenly an additional threat in the division rather than just a trio of serious teams and an afterthought, a franchise that always finds a way to screw things up.

 Vikings Future Is Brighter than It Looks After Foes' Playoff Wins
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In addition, Packers QB Love looks like the next great passer in Wisconsin, paired with the youngest roster in the league and a brilliant head coach on his side–a scary thought.

Without any postseason success, but still in a great spot for the future is Chicago. This franchise is holding the first overall pick in April’s draft, resulting in either the selection of Caleb Williams, a signal-caller viewed as a generational player, or trading out of the pick for a haul to bolster the roster with an already emerging defense.

Hope to Avoid Doomsday
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With those three threats in the division and many uncertainties on their own team, the Vikings enter a massive offseason in their franchise history. If they botch this one, it will have significant consequences, and the organization might be in a miserable position for years to come. But here’s the optimistic outlook, the things that Vikings fans can turn to, and why not everything is bleak.

The foremost positive aspect is the coaching staff. Minnesota employs a young, offensive-minded head coach who has shown a ton of growth over his two-year tenure. He has managed to win games through adversity, with Joshua Dobbs under center, without Justin Jefferson on the field, without a functioning defense, led his team to various comeback wins, built an explosive passing attack with Nick Mullens at QB, and has completely changed the culture in the building.

Smith Addresses
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While he is not perfect, there are certainly some things to clean up offensively, and as a head coach (he is still only 38 years old), he is the franchise at this point, especially without a franchise quarterback on the team. But Kevin O’Connell will get his hands at a young quarterback prospect sooner rather than later, and if he can develop him and build an offense around him, the Vikings will be in good shape for many years.

A major piece in that plan is the arsenal of weapons; the Vikings have three. Jefferson is arguably the league’s top wideout, a guy who’s always open, even when he is covered. He’ll make any quarterback look good. With Jordan Addison’s addition in last year’s draft and the trade for T.J. Hockenson, the Vikings have a trio of wonderful weapons.

The offensive line has the two most important positions figured out. Offensive tackles Brian O’Neill and Christian Darrisaw are signed through two more years, and there’s no reason to believe a divorce is imminent anytime soon.

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All those things put the Vikings in a position to put a rookie quarterback in the best spot possible for his development. He doesn’t have to run for his life, his receivers are stars, and he has a mentor in his corner. That guy should be drafted with the 11th overall pick or, at some point, early in the draft.

Now, the defense is a problem. The Vikings are currently without a solid edge rusher for the upcoming season, the cornerbacks are up and down, and the defensive line is a disaster. There must be some kind of investment, either via free agency or in the draft, to add some talent to the group. Brian Flores still hasn’t gotten a chance to showcase himself in interviews for a head coaching position, and while it is still early in the process, keeping him for another season would be a significant positive for the unit.

Drops One Hint
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While things are certainly a little scary with Detroit and Green Bay advancing to the divisional round, the Vikings have the infrastructure and the draft capital to get a solid quarterback for the future. It is the main priority now to find the solution at the most critical position in the sport.

In an always-changing NFL, nothing is ever guaranteed, no lead (in a game or the divisional outlook) is ever safe, and not everything is doomed, no matter how gloomy things seem.

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