In an offseason where hitting the reset button was a real possibility, the new Vikings leadership team of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell largely kept the roster intact while adding complementary pieces all around.
Kirk Cousins has an offensive-minded head coach for the first time in purple, and he has their full support. He has one of the best groups of skill position players led by Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen, yet the Vikes have several other sneaky candidates for a breakout year.
If the offensive line can improve (a big if), there’s no reason why Cousins can’t offer elite QB production under center in what’s expected to be a pass-heavy approach that gets his playmakers involved more than ever before .
In an attempt to rebuild the defense, they will switch to a 3-4 base under longtime coach Ed Donatell. With Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith causing nightmares off the edge, as long as the two can stay healthy, the pass rush should be top-notch. Eric Kendricks resumes his role as one of the best middle linebackers in coverage and is joined by the run-stopping Jordan Hicks to fill out a high-IQ position group.
An improved front seven should make things easier on the back end, where the Vikings have struggled to plug the leaks aboard their ship. A new injection of talent from first-round pick Lewis Cine, and second-round pick Andrew Booth Jr, along with the return of Patrick Peterson, should fill out a strong secondary with Harrison Smith returning as a longtime leader.
The Vikings should have a playoff spot in their sights. Anything less would be considered a failure. Looking around the division and the NFC conference as a whole, there’s a reason for excitement heading into the 2022 season for Vikings fans.
Minnesota Vikings schedule: Season results
Week 1 — Minnesota Vikings beat Green Bay Packers, 23-7
Minnesota Vikings schedule prediction: 11-6, 2nd place in NFC North
The Vikings fully believe they have assembled a playoff squad. Until they prove otherwise, there’s no reason to think the 14th-ranked offense from 2021 can’t improve with coach O’Connell taking the reins and all their top contributors returning.
It could be a slow transition to a new defense, but they’ve assembled the pieces, on paper, to improve as a unit in 2022. They have a healthy mix of engrained veteran leadership on both sides of the ball, along with some players who are among the very best at their position. Vikings fans should be excited about this team heading into 2022. If coaching really was the issue, we’re about to find out whether they’ve found a solution.
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