Vikings Successfully Managed to “Do Both” in 2023

Future in Minnesota Should
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

If you ever wondered, “Just what in the hell is a competitive rebuild, anyway?” the 2023 Minnesota Vikings provided an answer — a textbook example, in fact.

Vikings Successfully Managed to “Do Both” in 2023

The Vikings embarked on 2023 — and 2022 — inside a competitive rebuild, the verbiage used by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who took over the big job two years ago. Adofo-Mensah wants to do both, live in today and tomorrow while remaining competitive but rebuilding the roster on the fly with younger and more affordable commodities.

Vikings Successfully
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Well, he’s doing precisely that, to a tee, in fact, and the Vikings 2023 win-loss is a direct byproduct. Minnesota owns a 7-9 record entering Week 18, with approximately a 3% chance of reaching the postseason if it topples the Detroit Lions at Ford Field and three other teams lose games.

This is the competitive rebuild — plain and simple.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota utilized quarterback Kirk Cousins for eight games before he succumbed to an Achilles tear, and after that, the Vikings flirted with achieving the playoffs but will appear to fall short by a game or two.

How does 2023 encapsulate Adofo-Mensah’s competitive rebuild? The proof is in living color. The season started with a sorrowful 1-4 record, as the Vikings could not sync offensive and defensive proficiency. Then, the defense stabilized, Justin Jefferson fell injured for seven games, and the offense began to hit stride, first with Cousins and then with Joshua Dobbs.

New and Simple
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Sitting at 6-4 through 10 games, Minnesota was in the driver’s seat for playoff positioning, possessing an 80% probability of reaching the postseason, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) in early November. The ship was cruising, and the Vikings were leaning on the competitive aspect of a competitive rebuild.

However, soon after, life with backup quarterbacks caught up to the Vikings after Dobbs’ production fell off a cliff and veteran reservist passer Nick Mullens showcased his whirlwind ability peppered with turnovers.

When the dust settles on Sunday night, the Vikings will probably have a 7-10 record, equipped with the 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. And that means the competitive rebuild permeated all facets of 2023. Minnesota provided the undeniable excitement of a budding playoff push — after the 1-4 start — and will likely land with a Top 10 or Top 12 draft pick.

With bright flashing lights, this is a competitive rebuild — how the Kansas City Chiefs ran business in 2016 or the Buffalo Bills in 2016 or 2017. Not all Vikings fans love it, but Adofo-Mensah told the masses exactly his plan and is effectuating it.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Hopefully, before too long, the Vikings simply ixnay the rebuild part of the slogan and stay competitive at all times. That will require nailing the eventual quarterback draft pick, of course. That’s the goal: rebuilding the roster without tanking while biding time for the perfect quarterback in Kevin O’Connell’s system.

Let the 2023 Vikings be the definition of a competitive rebuild. A blueprint, in fact, at least schematically.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

Share: