3 Reasons to Be Optimistic About the 2023 Vikings

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Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates the win after the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of this offseason, there has been a ton of scuttlebutt that the Minnesota Vikings are going to be a team that regresses in 2023. After all, it’s hard to believe that a team that went 13-4 last season can repeat a season in which they went 11-0 in one-possession games and had to complete a ridiculous 8 fourth quarter comebacks in order to get their success. However, it is not entirely unwise to believe that this team can be competitive once again this season. Here are three reasons to be optimistic about the 2023 Vikings.

The Brian Flores Hire

3 Reasons to Be Optimistic About the 2023 Vikings
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross hugs Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores after win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Miami Gardens, Dec. 1, 2019.

First and foremost, this is the main reason why Vikings fans should have hope. Last year, they ran out a defense under Ed Donatell that oftentimes looked lethargic and consistently gave up chunk yardage by playing prevent coverage.

Things couldn’t be more of the opposite in a Brian Flores defense. Flores is an extremely aggressive defensive coach that utilizes regular blitzes and Cover 0 in order to apply pressure to opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks. During his three years as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2019-2021, they ranked 11th, 2nd, and 2nd in blitz percentage.

Under Donatell, the Vikings ran a defense that blitzed at a rate that ranked ninth-lowest in the league. With players like Brian Asamoah, Lewis Cine, Jordan Hicks, and Harrison Smith, they should thrive in a scheme that sends them in blitzes on a regular basis. In fact, both Hicks and Smith had their lowest blitz numbers since 2018 (when Pro Football Reference began tracking the stat) last year.

Continuity on Offense

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Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) celebrate the win against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins discussed this a little bit with the media during mandatory minicamp, but the continuity on the offensive side of the ball is a big deal for not only the QB, but the offense as a whole.

Sure, Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen must be replaced, but overall, there will be a number of familiar faces making plays on offense for Minnesota. They could have the same five starters on the offensive line for the first time in a decade, Cousins will have the same man calling plays for the first time since he joined the Vikings, and Justin Jefferson has the same offensive coordinator in back-to-back seasons for the first time in his NFL career.

Overall, the Vikings ran a very intricate offense in 2022, and now that the team has familiarity with that scheme, they should be very comfortable from the get-go this fall, and perhaps they can even expand upon it this summer to keep opposing defenses guessing.

Contract Years

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Feb 4, 2023; Paradise, NV, USA; NFC tight end T.J. Hockenson of the Minnesota Vikings (87) during practice at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Contract years leave uncertainty for a franchise’s future, but they can also bring about inspired play from players looking to earn large money totals in their next contracts. Currently, Minnesota has a ridiculous 30 players on their roster set to hit free agency at the end of this season. Some of the highlight names from this group include:

  • G Ezra Cleveland
  • QB Kirk Cousins
  • EDGE Marcus Davenport
  • LB Jordan Hicks
  • TE T.J. Hockenson
  • EDGE Danielle Hunter
  • WR K.J. Osborn

Obviously, not everyone from this list of 30 will be subject to the open market next year. Some of them will earn extensions to remain with the Vikings for years to come. Hunter held out from both OTAs and mandatory minicamp, so he could earn an extension with the team, or perhaps even be traded prior to the season’s start. T.J. Hockenson has widely been expected to get an extension as well.

That being said, the Vikings won’t have the money to pay everyone from this list. Some of these players are going to have to prove that they are worth new contracts in the league. This happened last year with Garrett Bradbury, and after having a career season in 2022, he earned a new deal to remain in Minnesota. It will be interesting to see how this large group of players entering the final years of their contracts approach this same situation.

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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