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The Minnesota Vikings had an impressive first season under new head coach Kevin O’Connell in 2022. Going 13-4 and winning the NFC North certainly isn’t a bad result to the season. However, their run came screeching to a halt much earlier than they would have liked, losing in the Wild Card round to the New York Giants. Minnesota has many things to fix this offseason if they want to avoid that same result. Here are 3 glaring problems that must be solved in 2023.
Consistent Pass Rush
If you told someone prior to the 2022 season that Minnesota would get 17 games out of both Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith, they likely would have assumed that the Vikings were a top-five unit in terms of sacks, or, at the very least, one of the top 10. No siree. Instead, the Vikings were 21st in the NFL in sacks with 38.
Despite their two stars, Minnesota simply could not maintain a consistent pass rush in 2022, especially during the second half of the season. Their pressure rate was similarly low, ranking among the bottom 10 teams in the NFL. If the Vikings want to be competitive in 2023, they need to find a way to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Whether by design or execution, Minnesota saw a very notable drop off in their running game during the 2022 season. After hovering around the league average in rushes and rushing yards during the 2021 season, they fell into the bottom 10 in rushes, rushing yards, and yards per attempt.
The obvious thing that people will point to this offseason is the fact that, at 28 years of age, Dalvin Cook is now on the decline. There’s a decent chance that Minnesota will let him go this offseason, and with Alexander Mattison also hitting free agency, we could see a completely different Vikings backfield in 2023.
Youth in the Secondary
This is the biggest problem with the Vikings defense right now. They simply rely on too many players over the age of 30 to be big playmakers on their defense. Whether it be Jordan Hicks, Eric Kendricks, Patrick Peterson, or Harrison Smith, the Vikings don’t have nearly enough youthful speed in their secondary to keep up with an ever-growing crop of speedy receivers.
Luckily, this could end up being the easiest thing for the Vikings to fix. Minnesota has young players; they just have to remain healthy. All three of Andrew Booth, Lewis Cine, and Akayleb Evans missed extensive time in 2022 because of injury. If they can remain healthy in 2023, and maybe another draft pick devoted to the defense, Minnesota should be a much faster defensive group next season.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.