Vikings Maximizing Dollars and Sense on Defense

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While it was the quarterback position, and what happened with Kirk Cousins that drew the majority of discussion throughout the offseason, the legal tampering period has been all about defense for the Minnesota Vikings.

With newfound spending power through departures and an expanding salary cap, the focus has been on maximizing what is available to Brian Flores. Minnesota made an exciting hire at the head coaching position when they brought in Kevin O’Connell. A young, forward-thinking, offensive-minded coach, there was plenty for him to build around with the Vikings. Kirk Cousins was already under center, but developing Justin Jefferson, bringing in T.J. Hockenson, and drafting Jordan Addison, the offense had the makings of a talented unit.

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We saw plenty of that on display in short bursts last season with multiple injuries sapping the overall togetherness of the group, but those skill position players remain. What O’Connell doesn’t represent is a defensive stalwart, and his choice of Ed Donatell in year one flopped mightily. He rectified that last season by bringing in Brian Flores, and after it was assumed he would be a head coaching candidate elsewhere, maximizing his abilities now makes too much sense.

In the final years of Mike Zimmer, the Vikings defense had fallen off a cliff. Donatell did nothing to stop the rock from rolling, and Minnesota won games in 2022 despite his unit.

Last year, Flores took a group that had really only an undrafted free agent infused into it, and made it a legitimate piece of the puzzle. Ivan Pace Jr. emerged as a star, and Danielle Hunter had the best season of his career despite a free agent that produced nothing on the opposite side.

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Utilizing cap space that has since opened up, the Vikings grabbed a pair of edge rushers and a well-known starting linebacker. Jonathan Greenard is four years younger than Hunter, and has already shown flashes of being an impact pass rusher, including a 12.5 sack output just a season ago. Andrew Van Ginkel returns to a Flores defense that he has previously played in, and can find comfort there, while Blake Cashman comes back home to Minnesota and can help solidify the front seven.

There should be excitement about a Flores defense that has legitimate resources put into it, and that is what Minnesota has done in the early stages of free agency. They’ll still need to figure out what happens with Harrison Smith, and the cornerback position could use an infusion of talent, but they’ll have draft picks to make moves with as well.

Vikings Maximizing Dollars and Sense
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Plenty of the Vikings immediate future is contingent upon getting the quarterback position right, but it at least appears that player won’t have the weight of the world on their shoulders each time the possession is with the opposition. Utilizing all of Flores’ talents, for as long as he remains a coordinator in Minnesota, is absolutely a smart plan of attack.

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.