The 3 Biggest Concerns for the 2024 Vikings

Vikings Designate Defensive Starter for Return
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The Minnesota Vikings have some milestones ahead: 12 days before training camp, 32 days until the preseason, and 61 separate the team between now and Week 1 at the New York Giants.

The 3 Biggest Concerns for the 2024 Vikings

The team certainly has some concerns entering 2024, a transformational season at quarterback with rookie passer J.J. McCarthy in the house.

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Ranked in ascending order, these are three reasons to be worried or skeptical about the 2024 squad (No. 1 = should cause the most worry).

3. The Schedule … Is Brutal to Start

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It’s five 2023 playoff teams in the first seven games, plus Aaron Rodgers’ team. That’s Minnesota’s mission out of the gate for the 2024 Vikings. Oofta.

Week 1 — at New York Giants
Week 2 — vs. San Francisco 49ers
Week 3 — vs. Houston Texans
Week 4 — at Green Bay Packers
Week 5 — vs. New York Jets (London)
Week 6 — Bye
Week 7 — vs. Detroit Lions
Week 8 — at Los Angeles Rams (TNF)

This element of the schedule will not be painless, but thankfully, the back half of the schedule lightens up, at least on paper. According to Sharp Football Analysis, Minnesota has the NFL’s fifth-hardest schedule on the whole, which is a raw deal for a team that finished in third place last year inside its division. It seems like a third-place finish for the 2023 squad afforded no schedule-strength justice. None whatsoever.

2. Interior DL Lacks Juice

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Minnesota had an abundance of opportunities to upgrade the spot next to Harrison Phillips, including free agents like Christian Wilkins, Arik Armstead, D.J. Reader, Grover Stewart, Leonard Williams, Sheldon Rankins, and Maurice Hurst, among others. It reportedly made a run at Wilkins, but he latched onto the Las Vegas Raiders’ roster for four years and $110 million.

After that, the draft shook out, and the Vikings didn’t find a high-profile DT there, either. Adofo-Mensah wound up with “Prospect X” late-rounder Levi Drake Rodriguez. The last best hope this offseason at defensive tackle is exploring a trade for Washington Commander DT Jonathan Allen, for example.

Otherwise, this is the group:

  • Harrison Phillips
  • Jerry Tillery
  • Jonathan Bullard
  • Jonah Williams
  • James Lynch
  • Jaquelin Roy
  • Jalen Redmond
  • Levi Drake Rodriguez
  • Tyler Manoa
  • Taki Taimani

After Phillips, the medley isn’t becoming a playoff contender, which Minnesota may not be anyway in 2024.

1. It All Boils Down to the Quarterback

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports | Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback S. Darnold (14) before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s wonderful that Minnesota took the plunge for a rookie quarterback in J.J. McCarthy and a bridge passer in Sam Darnold. But at least for a year, it’ll be lucky if either man or both combined produce Kirk Cousins’ usual 4,000 passing yards and 30+ touchdowns.

Most are excited about it, but embarking on life without Cousins is a brave new world — that will probably result in a plunge in passing yards and touchdowns at the league’s most important position.

In fact, considering Brian Flores’ defensive improvement in Miami from 2019 to 2020 — 32nd in the NFL to 7th per EPA/Play in one year — the Vikings might remake themselves into a defense-first enterprise for a while.

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).

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