We’re less than twenty-four hours removed from this year’s Super Bowl, and that obviously means it’s time to start looking at the 2023 NFL season.
(It’s gonna be a looooooooooooooooooooong offseason, folks.)
Some outlets are already putting out some 2023 Power Rankings, and at least a couple of them show quite the disparity in how the Minnesota Vikings are viewed going into next season.
Over at The Sporting News, Vinnie Iyer has placed the Vikings down at #20 in his “way too early” power rankings. Here’s what he’s got to say about them.
Everyone knows the Vikings defied the statistics and the odds to be a big-time winning team last season, leading them to be exposed right away in the playoffs. Their defense rebuild is still in progress and might be getting time to veer away from Kirk Cousins’ floor and go for higher upside to boost Justin Jefferson and the rest of their offense.
However, if you look at ESPN (at all places), their NFL writing group has the Vikings at #9.
Offseason in three or fewer words: Overhaul the lineup
An atypical combination of big cap numbers, expiring contracts, aging veterans and diminishing performance means the Vikings will need to make some significant changes to their starting lineup in the coming months. Six of their existing starters will be at least 31 when the 2023 season starts, and quarterback Kirk Cousins (35) is the only one who is assured of a return. As many as nine defensive starting spots could change hands. It will be a massive effort.
Both of these sets of Power Rankings point to what will be the key to how good the Vikings are in 2023: the rebuilding of the defense. The team’s drafts on defense since 2016 have been nothing short of abysmal, leading to the team hanging on to guys for too long, watching them diminish, and not developing anyone behind them to replace them.
The Vikings do have some young reinforcements in the secondary in Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth Jr., and Akayleb Evans. . .if those guys can stay healthy. Cine is coming off of a nasty leg injury, and Booth and Evans both had their seasons ended prematurely by injuries. The team will likely need to sign some sort of veteran presence at the position, whether that’s another return for Patrick Peterson or another veteran in free agency, to supplement those guys.
There are very few players on the defensive side of the ball for the Vikings that should feel secure in their starting spots next season. On the flip side, the offense should continue to improve. The team now has T.J. Hockenson as the clear #2 option behind Justin Jefferson, and the offensive line rebuild will continue whether the team brings back Garrett Bradbury at center or not.
Can the Vikings and new DC Brian Flores get this defense turned around quickly enough to be a force in 2023? That’s the multi-million dollar question that will need to be answered between now and Training Camp.