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What the Future Holds for the Minnesota Vikings

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Could Justin Jefferson ask for a trade and pull a “Stefon Diggs maneuver”? When I look at this Vikings roster as a whole it’s in a rough situation for now and the future. Now as a Green Bay Packer fan I don’t dislike any of our rivals as some other fans do, I simply don’t care about them. The Minnesota Vikings played 17 games. 14 of them were won or lost by one possession, and their final point differential was at a negative one, ending the season 8 and 9. That’s a crazy stat for an NFL team.

Looking at the roster from week one to now, at the end of the season, they look like the same team that came into the season. Players have made little to no progress. The biggest disappointment of the 2021 Vikings was Halloween night, when they lost to the Cowboys, 20 to 16. The Cowboys started QB Cooper Rush. Meanwhile, the Vikings were coming off a bye week. Going through this Vikings’ schedule, it was such an up and down season: winning a big game, then losing a layup game that they should have won. A team should feel excited to get a win, but winning these games felt empty, especially with most being so close. 

Mike Zimmer Effect

It’s hard to move on from head coach Mike Zimmer or GM Rick Spielman because of that 2017 Vikings team that went 13 and 3 but lost in the NFC Championship Game. The old Mike Zimmer team from 2017 is what can win in today’s age of the NFL: a dominating run game, a stable passing attack with a dominating defense. When you look at Rick Spielman and how he’s drafting and constructing the roster, it’s average at best. A lot of the roster probably comes from what Zimmer has to say as well; especially corners which are Zimmer’s “specialty”.

But the high-picked draft picks that they took all busted or look better when they’re not with the team anymore. A player they took in the 1st round in 2018, Mike Hughes, is in Kansas City and is playing fairly well for them (80 PFF rating). Jeff Gladney got into legal trouble and the Vikings released him. Cameron Dantzler, who they drafted in the 3rd round in 2020, and who is still a Viking, looks like a solid corner, to say the least. Dantzler does have a 71 PFF grade and has some nice size to him at 6 foot 2.

Player Miscues

Vikings haven’t put their players in good positions as well. Patrick Peterson who’s been playing mid-level is playing on the left side of the defense. Then you have Kris Boyd playing on the right side versus a player like Packers WR Devante Adams, where Adams burned the Vikings to a crisp. In 2020, the Covid year, they came into the season with all rookies and young players in the secondary. They got burned, with no chance of being competitive after that.

Looking at what Rick Spielman has done with this team since 2017. I’m looking back at the draft history that this team has had. Rick Spielman hasn’t drafted a decent defensive starter since the amazing 2015 draft when they drafted Trae Waynes, Eric Kendricks, and Danielle Hunter with back to back to back picks. Looking back, these are insanely great picks, to say the least. They also drafted Stefon Diggs in the 5th round in the same year. He’s been a stud ever since he came into the league. Maybe you want to put Mackensie Alexander in that list of good defenders, but he’s actually a middle-tier caliber player.

Camryn Bynum, their 4th round draft choice they picked in 2021, is probably the best defensive player the Vikings have drafted over the course of 4 years. This isn’t good at all when you have a defensive coach as your head coach. Looking at the roster they need a larger rebuild than some people like to admit. They just don’t have the depth they had in prior years. The roster consists of two elite WRs, a good but not great run game, and a QB who’s good but who can’t take you to the next level, which they initially thought they could when they signed Cousins.

Some coaching options I could see are Todd Bowles, Kellen Moore, Jonathan Gannon, Doug Pederson, Dan Quinn, DeMeco Ryans, and Nathaniel Hackett. The one I can see the Vikings hire is Buccaneer’s defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles. Bowles never got his chance with the Jets and Bowles is a team builder and can build up the defense. The same goes for Dan Quinn as well.

As for the GM job I always have a soft spot for John Dorsey, who is right now with the Detroit Lions as a senior personnel executive. He was the KC Chiefs GM when they drafted Patrick Mahomes and hired Andy Reid. Some other candidates are Thomas Dimitroff, Former General Manager for the Atlanta Falcons; Ed Dodds, Assistant General Manager for the Indianapolis Colts; and Eliot Wolf, Front Office Consultant, New England Patriots. 

The Vikings are in a tough situation with their roster, where if they play their cards correctly, they can definitely be a playoff team and be a Super Bowl contender. They have the pieces in place to get it done, with top position players. Getting the right coaching staff and GM is the key to that, however. I expect Zimmer and Rick Spielman to get a job in the league somewhere soon, and be really good at it.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JANUARY 09: Ezra Cleveland #72 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates with Justin Jefferson #18 after the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 9, 2022, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

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