The Main Problems with the Vikings Offense in 2023

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The Minnesota Vikings boasted one of the best offenses in the league during Kevin O’Connell’s first season as head coach.

The Vikings offense ranked among the top-10 units in the league in terms of points scored and total yards. However, major issues have arisen in 2023 that have plummeted the Vikings down the rankings this season. Here is a look at some of the main problems with the Vikings offense this season.

Turnovers

Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt (95) and cornerback Keisean Nixon (25) sack Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) during their football game Sunday, December 31, 2023, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. © Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Achilles heal of this Vikings team all season has been turnovers. They’ve turned the ball over 32 times this season, an average of two per game. This is tied for the second-most in the league, and the Vikings have turned the ball over two times or more in 10 of their 16 games. They have lost the turnover battle 10 times as well.

In those games that Minnesota has lost the turnover battle, the Vikings hold a 1-9 record. They are 6-0 in games where they at least tie their opponent in turnovers. If O’Connell’s squad can simply eliminate some of these silly turnovers, they should be much more competitive in 2024.

Red Zone Scoring

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

During O’Connell’s first season as head coach, the Vikings were a lethal group in the red zone. They scored touchdowns on 62.5% of their red zone drives, which ranked 8th in the NFL. It was no coincidence that Minnesota also ranked 8th in scoring by averaging 24.9 points per game.

This year, though, that red zone efficiency has gone downhill. Minnesota is scoring touchdowns on less than half of their red zone trips, reaching the end zone just 48% of the time. This ranks 25th in the NFL, and similarly, the Vikings sit at just 20.3 points per game, ranking 22nd.

Of course, a lot of these woes can be attributed to injuries, such as those to Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, and most recently, T.J. Hockenson. Hopefully, this red zone TD rate jumps back up closer to the 2022 number if the Vikings can bring Cousins back in the offseason.

Balance

Main Problems
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

The best NFL offenses often utilize a balanced attack by passing and running the ball effectively. For example, the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers each rank among the top five teams in both total passing yards and rushing yards this season.

However, finding a way to balance the pass and the run has been a bit of a puzzle for O’Connell in his two years leading the offense. Last season, Minnesota attempted the third-most passes and tied for the sixth-fewest carries.

It has only gotten worse in 2023. Even without Cousins in the lineup for eight games, the Vikings have attempted the fifth-most passes in the league compared to the fifth-fewest carries.

Again, perhaps some of this can be attributed to personnel, and maybe the Vikings simply need to find a more talented running back in the offseason. Hopefully, this is a problem that can be figured out in 2024 to improve the offense.

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Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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