The NFC North division has become increasingly competitive, with the Vikings potentially being the weakest of the four teams. The performance of Vikings’ General Manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, has been mixed, with some successful decisions in terms of salary cap management but less success in roster building. The Vikings’ running back position is identified as a key area of concern, with the need for a more explosive and productive player. The 2024 offseason is seen as crucial for the future of the Vikings.
Greetings, Vikings fans! We are back with another engaging episode of Two Old Bloggers. Here, your seasoned Vikings bloggers, Darren Campbell and Dave Stefano from Vikings 1st & SKOL, provide you with in-depth analysis, insights, and discussions on everything Vikings. Today we are diving into three central themes that every Vikings fan would find intriguing.
The NFC North: A More Competitive Landscape
The NFC North division is heating up, and it’s becoming more competitive than ever. This rise in competition naturally raises questions about where the Vikings stand in this evolving landscape. Are we falling behind our rivals, or are we keeping pace?
Our discussion takes an interesting turn as we address the evolving landscape of the NFC North. We touch on how the division has changed since its inception in 2002, with the Wisconsin team previously being the key concern for us. Now, however, the dynamics are shifting, and the division is becoming more diverse in its challenges, forcing us to rethink and re-strategize.
Teams on the Rise: The Lions, the Bears, and That Team from Wisconsin
We take a comprehensive look at the rising teams in the division. Highlighting the Detroit Lions, we discuss their remarkable turnaround under the leadership of Dan Campbell and General Manager Brad Holmes. The team from Wisconsin, the Green Bay Packers, despite their early struggles, has made significant improvements, with Jordan Love stepping up his game. The Chicago Bears have had a mixed bag of a season but seem to be on an upward trajectory. These rising teams are posing an increasing challenge for the Vikings.
The Vikings: Are We Falling Behind?
Compared to these teams, the Vikings seem to be falling behind. With major questions at the quarterback position and with Danielle Hunter, our future doesn’t seem as rosy as that of the other three teams. However, this offseason presents a golden opportunity for the Vikings to make the right moves to not only keep up with their competitors but surpass them. We discuss potential strategies and what the Vikings need to do to regain their standing.
Conclusion: The Cap Situation and What It Means for the Teams
As we wrap up today’s discussion, we reflect on the current cap situation of the four teams. While Chicago and Detroit seem to be in a better position, the Vikings are in third place, but improvements are expected next year. Green Bay, however, is facing a deficit, which could significantly impact their offseason moves. We discuss the potential implications of this and what it means for the teams.
Next, the duo delved deep into the current state of the Vikings against NFC North competitors, evaluating the performance of General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the crucial decisions that lie ahead.
Evaluating Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s Performance
The hosts then turned their attention to Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the General Manager of the Vikings. They provided a comprehensive review of his first two years, focusing on his handling of the team’s salary cap, his decisions on draft picks, and his approach to trades and free agents.
Is Kwesi doing a good job? Every fan knows that Kwesi had a challenging first year, prompting us to ponder if there have been any noteworthy improvements in his second year. We also speculate about his prospects in the third year and what it could mean for our beloved team.
The Hits and Misses of Free Agency and Trades
In 2022, while they acknowledged some successful moves, such as the acquisition of Za’Darius Smith and Harrison Phillips, they also pointed out significant missteps. They asserted that the trade down in the draft with Detroit did not yield the expected benefits. It led to the Lewis Cine pick who has yet to make the field regularly outside of special teams. They deemed the trade was a significant miss, showing that not all of Kwesi’s trading decisions had been successful. Then the move in 2023 to acquire Marcus Davenport was a ‘huge bust’ because he couldn’t stay healthy or even showed desire to return from injury to play.
Highlighting the failures, pointing out that some free agency signings, such as Marcus Davenport and even Byron Murphy Jr., didn’t pan out as hoped, but it isn’t the whole story.
On the trading front, the hosts had mixed opinions. They applauded the T.J. Hockenson deal as an excellent move by Kwesi, citing Hockenson’s fantastic performance while with the Vikings. However, moves to keep Danielle Hunter after his sit-in, and even Jordan Hicks succeeded to keep some minimum levels of talent on the defense that was devastated the year(s) before.
Reviewing the Draft Picks: A Tale of Two Years
The evaluation continued with a look at the Vikings’ 2022 and 2023 draft picks. The 2022 draft, with ten players picked, was seen as a colossal bust, with only Ed Ingram and Akayleb Evans playing significantly and showing potential. In sharp contrast, the 2023 draft brought in some promising additions to the team, including Jordan Addison, Mekhi Blackman, and Ivan Pace Jr. These players, they believe, could significantly contribute to the team’s future success. Add running back Ty Chandler getting playing time too and who might figure for more in the future as well.
The Critical Decisions Looming in 2024
The hosts concluded by stressing the important decisions Kwesi needs to make in the 2024 offseason. These decisions include the future of Kirk Cousins, managing the salary cap effectively to address the team’s needs, and resolving Justin Jefferson’s contract extension situation. The hosts agreed that the outcomes of these decisions could potentially shape the future of the Vikings.
They also highlighted the importance of the upcoming draft, where the Vikings have the highest pick since 2015. They debated whether Kwesi should trade draft capital to move up, stay put, or trade back to add extra draft capital.
2024 is a pivotal year for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings. If Kwesi makes the right decisions, he could secure a long tenure with the Vikings and potentially steer the team toward success. However, if he fails to deliver, his position could be at risk by 2026.
The hosts finished on the note that this year is a turning point in the Vikings’ history, with a lot hinging on Kwesi’s performance in the 2024 season.
The State of the Vikings’ Running Backs
Right off the bat, the conversation turns to one of the most pressing issues for the Vikings - the running back position. It’s no secret that the Vikings’ running game was a weak spot last season. The numbers speak for themselves. The Vikings finished 29th in rushing yards in the league, a statistic that sends a clear message - there’s significant room for improvement.
The decision to position Alexander Mattison as the lead running back following Dalvin Cook’s release turned out to be a less-than-successful strategy. While releasing Dalvin Cook was a decision that Darren and Dave agreed with, Mattison’s performance did not meet expectations. His lack of speed, explosiveness, and elusiveness proved to be a significant setback, and by the end of the season, he had lost his job.
Looking Ahead: Predictions for the Running Back Position
The conversation then shifts to the future of the running back position. Darren and Dave speculate that Ty Chandler might be poised to take over as the Vikings’ starting running back. Chandler has shown promise with his speed and explosiveness, but he lacks a successful track record at the NFL level, which raises questions about his ability to pass block and to handle the responsibility of a lead running back.
The guys also wondered if the Vikings would bring back Cam Akers after his injury. He was playing well right up to his Achilles rupturing.
However, Mattison’s future with the Vikings isn’t entirely bleak. Even though his role has diminished, Darren and Dave suggest that retaining Mattison could be a wise move. Cutting him does not provide significant salary cap relief, and his experience could still be valuable as a backup or third option.
Exploring the Free Agency and Draft Options
The bloggers also delve into the options available in the free agency and draft. Although big names like Saquon Barkley and Austin Eckler would undeniably add value to the team, it’s unlikely that the Vikings will invest heavily in free agency due to the high costs involved. Instead, Darren and Dave advocate for the Vikings to focus on scouting college running backs, looking for undervalued players who could prove to be hidden gems.
When it comes to the draft, the consensus between Darren and Dave is clear - the running back position should not be the team’s top priority. Instead, they suggest that the Vikings should focus on other areas of immediate concern, such as the quarterback and edge positions. This approach would allow the team to address its most pressing needs while still keeping an eye on potential running back talent.
Wrapping Up: Final Thoughts
In this episode of “Two Old Bloggers,” veteran Vikings bloggers Darren Campbell and Dave Stefano from Vikings 1st & SKOL offered a thorough analysis of the Vikings’ current situation and future prospects. They discussed the intensifying competition in the NFC North, evaluated the performance of Vikings’ General Manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, and analyzed the team’s running back position. Identifying the 2024 offseason as a pivotal period for the Vikings, they deliberated over the strategies and decisions that could propel the team. They addressed potential challenges from other NFC North teams and important decisions for the 2024 draft, highlighting the crossroads the Vikings now face. The episode concluded with an emphasis on strategic planning, effective decision-making, and progressive thinking to ensure the Vikings’ success in future seasons.
Whether you’re a die-hard Vikings fan or just a football enthusiast, “Two Old Bloggers” provides insightful and engaging discussions on all things Vikings. Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis in the next episode. SKOL VIKINGS!
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