The 4 Things Wrong with the Vikings


Sep 24, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings fans in the third quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have begun the 2023 season with a 0-2 record, a disappointing development for a franchise that won 13 games one year ago.

Minnesota now has a +210 moneyline to reach the postseason, a probability similar to the Tennesee Titans and Denver Broncos.

The 4 Things Wrong with the Vikings

A handful of scourges have beset the Vikings to the tune of two losses in two games, and these are those ranked in ascending order of importance (No. 1 = biggest problem).

4. Rush Defense

The 4 Things Wrong
Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White (1) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) and defensive end Dean Lowry (94) and linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) as guard Luke Goedeke (67) attempts to block during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Awaiting the rest of the NFL’s Week 2 matchups, the Vikings run defense currently ranks fourth-worst leaguewide per EPA/Play. And that’s what happens when D’Andre Swift and friends gash a team up the gut repeatedly for 60 minutes of NFL time or three hours of fans’ time.

Minnesota, at some point, must put some large humans upfront on the defensive line to thwart opposing ball carriers. The Athletic‘s Alec Lewis tweeted Friday, “Brian Flores has played Drop 8 coverage on 25 snaps through two games. Last year, the NFL team that used the most Drop 8 was the Raiders, which used it on 62 snaps — over the course of the ENTIRE SEASON.”

The Vikings need some beef on the line of scrimmage — at least some of the time.

3. No Ground Game + OL Troubles

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) runs with the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have rushed the ball 26 times, a criminally low stat that ranks third-least in NFL history among teams in the first two games of a season.

Then, when they attempt to gain ground yards, they’re inefficient thanks to the offensive line’s uncharacteristic run-blocking woes and a side-dish of Alexander Mattison’s fumble in Week 2.

Listen, it’s fine and dandy that the former quarterback turned head coach passes more than he rushes — that’s rather predictable, in fact — but Minnesota must run the ball at an enhanced clip starting in Week 3. A team cannot line up on offense and just throw it every time. It does not work.

They’ll get the memo and at least try to pound yards on the ground, and then it will be up to Mattison, Ty Chandler, and Myles Gaskin to do the rest.

2. Time of Possession

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Tuesday., July 25th, 2023. The Vikings won the NFC North in Kevin O’Connell’s first year, thanks to a 13-4 record. O’Connell’s is the league’s second-youngest coach as of 2023.

The Eagles possessed the football nearly 40 minutes on Thursday night to the Vikings 20. What a farce.

Minnesota struggled with time of possession in 2022, but nobody cared because they won every close game like Steph Curry shoots free throws. It was automatic.

This year is different, the close-game wins ceased, and the time of possession woes persist. There’s a direct link between No. 3 and 4 on this list, so if O’Connell figures out No. 3, No. 4 will fix itself.

1. Turnovers

Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Brandon Powell (19) during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have turned the ball over 7 times in 8 quarters, forcing just one takeaway from opponents, a pick from Jalen Hurts.

A -6 turnover differential is halfway impeachable and virtually guaranteed to create losing football. Truth be told, Minnesota should’ve been beaten by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 30-17 or so and 44-28 at Philadelphia. Yet, it stayed scrappy and had chances to win both games.

Conversely, if the Vikings protected the ball in those two games, they could’ve toppled the Buccaneers 30-17, and chipped off the Eagles 34-27 or so. Turnovers are not erasable, and the Vikings are lucky they weren’t blown out in both games thanks to the -6 ratio.

Wait for the next Vikings game with zero giveaways. They’ll probably win the thing, even if it’s against the Kansas City Chiefs in three weeks.


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.





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