1st Down: I'm not a "draft guy" at all. I also don't care for Spring Training in Major League Baseball. To me, players & teams become "real" the first time they take the field together when it counts. I do appreciate the thoughts/opinions of others on draft matters, though, as without them I'd be utterly lost. I'm favorable towards the first round pick of Jordan Addison for two reasons: First, I like snapping up another potential top-tier wide receiver. 2024's defense is going to be a work-in-progress at best, so any real contender noise will have to be generated by an explosive offense. The team took many correct steps in that mission last season under new Head Coach O'Connell, but having another playmaker (who isn't as continuously hobbled as Adam Thielen had become) should certainly help Cousins & Co. take another step forward. Secondly, I'll always favor a smart, versatile, route-running-expert WR over the biggest or fastest guy, and by all accounts that's exactly what Addison seems to be. Very Stefon Diggs-like, in other words.
2nd Down: Opponent-wise, the Vikings have a pretty tough slate in 2024. A first-place '23 finish and a run through the AFC West will do that. But I honestly couldn't have been more pleased with the way the schedule is laid out:
-I'll take the Eagles at Philly early on a short week.
-Now that Rodgers' prime-time influence is out of the NFC, I like that both Green Bay and Chicago trips are over before November. No more bad turf or bone-chilling conditions in those contests.
-The two most daunting single opponents--Kansas City & San Francisco--come to U.S. Bank Stadium, giving the Vikings a "puncher's chance" at very least.
-Two of the final 3 games against the Lions is a bit odd, but as the likely primary NFC North competition, I'm fine with it. Either the division will be decided around the holidays or Detroit will execute their usual flameout and the Vikes will pick up a few "easy" victories.
3rd Down: My dad always talks about how he truly became a dyed-in-the-wool Vikings fan in 1969, and a big part of that was QB Joe Kapp. Despite the less-than-Super ending at the hands of the Chiefs, that year's "40 for 60" mantra really cemented the Purple as a franchise to be reckoned with in the NFL. The closest comp I have to such an experience is Daunte Culpepper in 2000, as that jump-started by football fanaticism. A lot of Minnesota football legends (Bud Grant before Kapp) passing into Viking Valhalla these days.
4th Down: Though it took a long time to come to fruition, the Za'Darius Smith trade finally happened. Are the '24 Vikings a better defense without him? Certainly not, and he seemed like a great piece for new DC Flores to move around. Is it a good, fiscally-responsible move for a team looking to get out from under salary cap restrictions? Yes. For as good as the Z-Train was in the first half of 2023, he was equally as non-existent for most of the second half. As currently constructed, Minnesota simply can't keep paying for that, all the while hoping that a major injury doesn't crop up. Smith was a good add for the '23 squad, and a good jettison for the '24 incarnation.