Vikings Questions Aplenty: Player Exodus, iOL Leap, and the 10 Purple Mysteries

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Last week and into the current week, I’ve been moving through a list of the top 10 questions facing the 2023 Minnesota Vikings.

Obviously, the Vikings questions go far beyond what I was able to cover in these pieces. One could certainly envision other articles covering the Danielle Hunter standoff, the potential for a running back committee, the lack of pass rushing options at defensive tackle, whether Brian O’Neill can be replaced if he doesn’t bounce back from injury, and if the new free agent adds offer enough for Minnesota to replicate last year’s wonderful record. The creative readers in the crowd are likely thinking of questions that didn’t come to mind for your humble author.

Vikings Set Training Camp Schedule
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell and wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) talk during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Very few expect Minnesota to mirror last season’s 13-4 record that won them the NFC North. In truth, I’d have to agree that getting to the unlucky number — 13 — doesn’t appear particularly likely.

Nevertheless, the team should certainly be expected to compete, especially since Aaron Rodgers has taken his talents to New York. The Vikings will thus find themselves in a competition with the rebuilding Bears, suddenly competent Lions, and mysterious Packers. Do they have what it takes to win the division for the second time in two years? If so, do they have what it takes to go on a playoff run?

At the end of the day, the questions all center on Minnesota’s ability to compete in the upcoming season.

The Vikings Questions

10) Does the Vikings Exodus Continue?

Quotable Quote: “Much remains to be determined. Training camp practices and preseason games will obviously go a long way in determining who sticks around and who will need to look elsewhere for employment. That being said, Spielman’s guys – Wonnum, Bynum, Osborn, Troy Dye, James Lynch, Kene Nwangwu – will need to definitively show that they’re the clear-cut best option at their respective position.”

9) Is the Vikings Kicker Battle Genuine?

Quotable Quote: “If we push things back even further, we could even wonder if there will be a genuine kicker battle. After all, the Vikings did sign competition for Greg Joseph last offseason. The issue was simply that Gabe Brkic was gone before training camp began, undermining the competition before it could fully get going. Does the current offseason have something different in store?”

8) Does Minnesota’s iOL Take a Leap Forward?

Quotable Quote: “An awful lot has been said about maintaining continuity up front. And, to be sure, there’s good reason to praise continuity; offensive linemen often rely on clear communication and working directly with a blocking buddy, so being comfortable with one’s fellow offensive linemen is indeed a notable development. Nevertheless, there’s also reason to be concerned about the current trio – LG Ezra Cleveland, C Garrett Bradbury, RG Ed Ingram – manning the starting spots.”

7) Do Minnesota’s Safeties Rise to Stardom?

Quotable Quote: “Cine, of course, stands out not just because he was Adofo-Mensah’s opening-round selection in 2022 but because he was barely seen in 2022 (pun fully intended). He has a reputation for craving contact. Might he be a blitzing specialist who can also limit tight ends due to his length and speed? The Vikings have the luxury of taking their time with Cine’s injury recovery since the position has so much established talent. Ideally, Cine can get to 100% and then carve out a specific role within Flores’ defense.”

6) How Much do the Vikings Miss Departing Veterans?

Quotable Quote: “For that improvement to occur, the Vikings will need Brian Asamoah to be excellent. Akayleb Evans, Andrew Booth Jr., and/or Mekhi Blackmon need to be battle-ready very soon. Seeing a large leap for Lewis Cine would be massive, and some unexpected pass-rush sizzle from Patrick Jones would go a long way in assuaging concerns about the team’s ability to get after the QB (even if we do know there will be blitzes aplenty).”

5) Can Justin Jefferson Get Even Better?

Quotable Quote: “Capturing 1,400 yards as a rookie was an unexpectedly elite mark. His 1,616 yards as a sophomore locked him in as truly being among the game’s best wide receivers. Sailing up to 1,809 yards last year made him the consensus WR1 in the NFL. If the trend persists — adding around 200 yards per year — Jefferson will become the first receiver in league history to surpass the 2,000-yard mark. No guarantee, but certainly within the realm of possibility.”

4) Will Minnesota’s Corners Be in Over their Head?

Quotable Quote: “Meanwhile, Andrew Booth Jr. — the result of a trade up the board from GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah — is looking to prove he can develop into an excellent defender. Were it not for persistent concerns about his health, Booth (Dustin Baker’s defensive x-factor) likely would have been a 1st-round selection in 2022. Instead, he dropped down into the 2nd, allowing Minnesota to scoop him up at 42nd overall.”

3) Does the Vikings Defense Rise from Drudgery and Despair?

Quotable Quote: “Once again snagging a division title – a feat that’s been tough for Vikings coaches to accomplish – is largely predicated on a defense that doesn’t actively hinder the team’s chances of winning. Few, if any, expect the defense to be world beaters. Instead, simple competitive competence would be a notable upgrade.”

2) Can Kirk Cousins Elevate His Game?

Quotable Quote: “Williams Carlos Williams said that so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow. The Vikings say that so much depends on Kirk Cousins.”

1) Do the Vikings Actually Have What it Takes to Win the Super Bowl

Quotable Quote: “In reality, do the Vikings actually have what it takes to win the Super Bowl? The short answer is no, but let’s aim for both more optimism and more nuance. Indeed, the team’s main leaders — Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell — aren’t throwing in the towel for 2023. Each is planning on making the final tournament and then pushing for a Super Bowl once there, but their approach puts the team in a bit of an odd spot.”

Editor’s Note: The “Countdown Questions” series is a 10-day look at some of the most important questions facing the Minnesota Vikings as training camp nears. Be sure to keep swinging by to check out the latest installment and to read what has already been covered: #10, #9, #8, #7, #6, #5, #4, #3, #2, & #1.

Read the full story Vikings Questions Aplenty: Player Exodus, iOL Leap, and the 10 Purple Mysteries and check out each day for all you Minnesota Vikings news/analysis!

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