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The Vikings have three glaring problems to solve in 2023

09/19/2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

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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 for the season. However, their run stalled much sooner than they would have liked, losing to the New York Giants in the wild card round. Minnesota have a lot of things to fix this offseason if they want to avoid the same result. Here are 3 glaring issues that need solving in 2023.

Consistent pass rush

Danielle Jaeger
10/24/2019; Minneapolis, Minn., USA; Danielle Hunter on defense for the Minnesota Vikings. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

If you had told someone prior to the 2022 season that Minnesota would win 17 games from both Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith, they probably would have assumed that the Vikings were one of the top five units in terms of sacks, or at least one of the top 10. No siree. Instead, the Vikings finished 21st in the NFL in sacks with 38.

Despite their two stars, Minnesota simply couldn’t keep up a constant rush of passes, especially in the second half of the season. Their print rate was similarly low, ranking among the NFL’s 10 worst teams. If the Vikings want to be competitive in 2023, they need to find a way to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Rushing Attack

The Vikings RB Room could look very different in 2023
Vikings Running Back Dalvin Cook. © JAMIE GERMANO/USA TODAY NETWORK.

Whether through design or execution, Minnesota saw a very notable drop in its 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 people will be pointing to this off-season is the fact that Dalvin Cook, aged 28, is now on the wane. There’s a good chance Minnesota will let him go this offseason, and with Alexander Mattison also hitting free agency, we could see a completely different Vikings backcourt in 2023.

youth in secondary school

Harrison Smith has more interceptions than any other active NFL player
11/20/2022; Minneapolis, Minn., USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) looks on before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

This is the biggest problem with the Vikings defense right now. They simply rely on too many players over 30 to be big playmakers in their defense. Whether it’s Jordan Hicks, Eric Kendricks, Patrick Peterson or Harrison Smith, the Vikings don’t have nearly enough youthful pace in their secondary school to compete with an ever-growing roster of fast receivers.

Luckily, this might be the easiest thing to fix for the Vikings. Minnesota has young players; they just have to stay healthy. All three, Andrew Booth, Lewis Cine and Akayleb Evans, missed significant time in 2022 through injury. If they can stay healthy in 2023 and maybe be another draft pick for defense, Minnesota should be a much faster defensive group next season.

Vikings say goodbye to 7 players

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 training for marathons, playing video games, and cheering for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. You can find more of his opinions on his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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