Why Are Pundits Sleeping on the Vikings?

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The Minnesota Vikings are projected to be among the worst teams across the NFL this upcoming season. They weren’t a .500 team last year, and Kevin O’Connell is still getting his feet wet as a head coach, but it seems like they deserve a bit more steam. Why is everyone napping?

Why Are Pundits Sleeping on the Vikings?

Of course, the Minnesota Vikings underwent turnover at the most important position in sports this offseason. After losing Kirk Cousins to the Atlanta Falcons and not being compensated for their tampering, turning to new signal callers was a must. First, it was Sam Darnold as a free agent, and then J.J. McCarthy was acquired through the NFL Draft. That brings a certain level of volatility.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports | Nov 18, 2023; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) on the field against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

Then there is the defense. A season ago, the Minnesota Vikings got a boost from Brian Flores, who took over as their defensive coordinator, but he was still working with multiple piecemeal parts. Needing to elevate the group to get more from them overall, there would be a relative ceiling for various players.

The turnover is definitely why the Vikings are being discredited, but it may also be the biggest reason to believe in them. Kevin O’Connell’s squad is a massive unknown this season. The NFC North has an established winner at the top in Detroit, and the Packers are believed in because of the steps Jordan Love took forward. That might be where the hurdles end, though.

Should Have Optimism
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Sam Darnold is still perceived as the quarterback who played for the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers. This situation could not be more unlike those. J.J. McCarthy is a wild card, but if he plays, it will be because he elevated himself to a place where some smart coaches believe he is ready to go.

Justin Jefferson is healthy, and Aaron Jones is substantially better than Alexander Mattison was going to be. The defense has been infused with Dallas Turner, another unknown commodity, and an intriguing addition with the arrow pointing up in Johnathan Greenard. The cornerbacks still leave something to be desired, but Flores has gotten time for additional work to be done there as well.

Green Bay Packers tackled Dennis Kelly (79) provides pass protection from Houston Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard (52) during their preseason game Saturday, August 14, 2021 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Houston Texans beat the Green Bay Packers 26-7. Packers15 22. © Milwaukee Journal SentinelMARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK.

It’s fine to suggest that the Vikings will be bad because they were a year ago and last had an established veteran quarterback. It’s also entirely plausible to believe they’ll surprise because so many of their new pieces are being discounted, and the outcomes are assumed rather than substantiated.

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.