3 Most Disappointing Players of the 2023 Vikings

Alexander Mattison
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The 2023 Vikings were quite the letdown after winning the NFC North in the previous season and making the necessary move to hire Brian Flores to fix the defense. But the franchise entered a season that would be heavily influenced by injuries, especially Kirk Cousins’ season-ending Achilles damage, which was a brutal blow for the season’s outcome.

3 Most Disappointing Players of the 2023 Vikings

3 Most Disappointing Players of the 2023 Vikings
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Not only was the whole team disappointed, but some players had down-years. Here is a list of the three most significant disappointments.

1. Marcus Davenport

The easiest possible call, Marcus Davenport, was signed in the offseason as a splashy addition to the defensive line. Shortly after, edge-rusher Za’Darius Smith requested a trade, and it was officially on Davenport to pressure QBs on the opposite side of Danielle Hunter.

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GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah targeted a high-upside player who had been slowed down by injuries in the first five seasons of his career, but whenever he was healthy, he produced. Rushing the passer and excellent run defense for below-market value because of an extensive injury history was risky but offered upside. He ended up signing a one-year $13 million contract in Minnesota.

Ultimately, Davenport played in four games and logged only 118 snaps on defense. An ankle injury prevented him from opening the season on the field, and shortly after his comeback, another ankle injury that required surgery ended his season. He showed flashes of excellence whenever he played, but he only recorded two sacks and seven tackles in perhaps his only season with the Vikings.

2. Alexander Mattison

The organization moved on from star running back Dalvin Cook after six seasons with the team and promoted his backup, Alexander Mattison. After four solid seasons as a part-time player, the veteran was re-signed to take over the backfield.

Running Game
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In theory, Mattison can provide some things Cook does with more power but less explosiveness. But the running game should somehow work with him taking the carries. After the season, it can be stated that it didn’t work one bit.

Mattison rushed 180 times for 700 yards, resulting in a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry. Perhaps the worst aspect is that he failed to reach the endzone on the ground, although he scored three times as a pass-catcher. Ty Chandler was featured in the final four games of the season.

His contract is mostly guaranteed for the upcoming season, so his roster spot should be safe, but it would be a mild shock if the Vikings don’t add another running back to take over the starting role, demoting Mattison back to his backup spot.

3. Lewis Cine

It was understandable that 2022 first-rounder Cine couldn’t win a starting spot in training camp, and considering how great Josh Metellus has looked, it is fine that he wasn’t the first man up when Harrison Smith was missing a game. Then he got hurt, which is also not his fault, and his brutal injury prematurely ended his season in Week 4.

Lewis Cine Is Doing
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Flores took over the defense, and Cine’s speed could have been a real asset in his versatile unit, especially because the new DC likes to have three, sometimes even four safeties on the field. But Cine was not only behind the three virtual starters Camryn Bynum, Smith, and Metellus. He was also passed by rookie Jay Ward and practice squad signing Theo Jackson.

Cine couldn’t even crack the active gameday roster for most of the season. Cine played in less than 50% of the games, logging some snaps on special teams, but his impact on defense has been zero.

He is under contract for two more seasons, but unless he shows some promise leading up to the 2024 season, he might not be on the roster when Week 1 kicks off.

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