Vikings Trajectory Inflicted the Most Pain

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

When Kirk Cousins went down for the Minnesota Vikings, it could have been expected that the 2023 season was effectively over. Losing a starting quarterback is a brutal proposition, and expecting Kevin O’Connell’s team to rebound from a tough start would always be an uphill battle. However, Minnesota got to the desired result in about the most painful way possible.

Vikings Trajectory Inflicted the Most Pain

After Kirk Cousins went down against the Green Bay Packers, Jaren Hall came in and closed out the game. The result was already in hand, and that contest had little opportunity to go sideways. Sitting at 4-4, the ship had been righted, but there was no captain going forward. Nick Mullens was on injured reserve, and the quarterback room was barren save for a fifth-round rookie.

Inflicted the Most
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The acquisition of Josh Dobbs looked like a shrewd move. He certainly wasn’t going to do the heavy lifting, but he represented a logical upgrade over Hall and one immediately available, unlike Mullens. Thrust into a contest against the Atlanta Falcons, Dobbs won the hearts of Vikings fans after orchestrating a close win with teammates that he had yet to learn the names of.

Then Dobbs did it again at home against the New Orleans Saints. Knocking off two of the top NFC South teams in back-to-back weeks, it looked as though Minnesota had effectively captured lightning in a bottle. Even a slip-up against the resurgent Denver Broncos couldn’t snuff that.

Unfortunately, Minnesota knows how this story goes all too well. A hapless primetime performance against the Chicago Bears only parlayed into an even more lackluster performance against the Las Vegas Raiders. While O’Connell’s team knocked off the black and silver, the ineptitude couldn’t have been more evident.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Quarterback changes ensued again, but the results remained the same. Although more points were scored against the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions, Minnesota remained on the wrong side of the scoreboard. With a New Year’s Eve rivalry tilt on tap, the Vikings crashed well before midnight.

Nothing about the performance against the Packers was good. Hall got a start after yet another quarterback change and was benched before the final seconds ticked away. Mullens couldn’t move the ball either, and while he didn’t turn it over this time, he was up against too much of a hill to climb.

Although the Vikings’ playoff hopes are currently still alive, they are definitely on the lowest version of life support possible. Regardless of who is under center, beating the Detroit Lions on the road is a daunting task. Minnesota’s help isn’t likely to come, and that will ultimately spell the final demise.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

This result was always to be expected. Finding a replacement for the most important position in sports is not an enviable task. Making it the most painful process was not something to be desired. O’Connell doesn’t get a better draft pick to work with, and the team still goes home when the regular season ends.

For all of the highs that the 2022 regular season provided, there were equally as many lows in 2023. Turning the page and finding a better path forward will be the focus in 2024. That can’t come soon enough.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.