4 New Year’s Resolutions for Vikings
A lousy loss in blowout fashion against the division rivals Green Bay Packers in the most important game of the season was how the Minnesota Vikings ended their 2023. After winning eight and seven games in 2020 and 2021, the Vikes improved to 13 wins in 2022, but they declined back to a mediocre seven-win season with one game to go.
4 New Year’s Resolutions for Vikings
As an organization that hovers around a .500 record, the Vikings should do better to create a more enjoyable product for the fans. Here are four things to work on in 2024.
1. Find THE Guy
Kirk Cousins has been with the organization for six years. He provides a solid floor and is a big reason why the franchise never bottoms out. Throwing for roughly 30 TDs and 4,000 yards is good enough to keep a team relevant in December, but he is not the kind of quarterback that can carry an average team deep into the playoffs annually. While there are only very few of those, the Vikings should try to find one of those, no matter how unlikely it is to maximize the receiving talent on the roster.
That becomes even more important after realizing that Cousins’ deal will expire in March. He will be 36 years old when the season kicks off and coming off a torn Achilles. He might have a couple of years left before someday entering the decline. Still, the Vikes must plan for the future, and the current regime around Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell must draft their guy. Vikings fans deserve a franchise quarterback who can stick around for a decade or more and keep the team relevant deep into January every season.
They should be able to do that as they are drafting around the tenth overall spot, and trading up is an option.
2. Win Home Games
Defending the home field is one thing every team sets as an emphasis, but the Vikings massively failed in 2023 with a record of 2-6. In 62 years of franchise history, Minnesota had only twice lost six games at home in a single season.
In addition to losing games at home, the Vikings find ways to be even more embarrassing by getting blown out. Green Bay winning by 23 points in U.S. Bank Stadium is unacceptable, and just last year, the Cowboys won by 37.
So it is either bad luck that they run into juggernauts at home, although the Packers haven’t been world-beaters in 2023, O’Connell can’t motivate his guys at home, or the players don’t have the pride to play well in front of their home crowd.
Regardless of the reason, it must change in 2024.
3. Run the Football
The rushing game in the first season without either Adrian Peterson or Dalvin Cook attached to the roster has been a disaster. O’Connell’s offense ranks 27th in rushing yards, 29th in rushing touchdowns, and 22nd in yards per carry. They are also listed 27th in EPA/rush.
Alexander Mattison was re-signed to replace his longtime teammate Cook, and Ty Chandler was supposed to be his backup. Cam Akers was added after two weeks. None of them was particularly effective, although Chandler has shown some flashes.
The team was often one-dimensional with only a passing attack, despite having a backup QB carousel under center. It has been a while since the Vikings were able to impose their will on the ground, and returning to that level requires an upgrade at the RB position, and O’Connell must go back to the drawing board and update his running scheme.
4. Build a Defense
Ever since many guys left in 2020 and other key players were aging, the Vikings have had bad defensive units despite changing the play-callers from Mike Zimmer to Ed Donatell and Brian Flores. None of them could build a great defense, and the reason is obvious — the defense just lacks talent.
Besides Danielle Hunter, the Vikings don’t have difference-makers on that side of the ball. Harrison Phillips is a decent defensive tackle, and Camryn Bynum is slowly emerging, just like the young CB group and Ivan Pace, but they clearly miss another player or two to change games while also upgrading some low-end starters.
Keeping Hunter should be a priority, and the Vikes could opt to invest in the draft and free agency so some talent can enter the building. The Vikings used to have strong defenses, and in the last four seasons, they have been quite terrible.
Flores has improved his unit, but they rank close to average in yards allowed, points allowed, and EPA/Play. He might leave for a head coaching gig, but ultimately, the franchise must make some investments to return to the glory days.
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