It was only a matter of time before Kevin O’Connell got his chance at a head coaching job. O’Connell worked his way up through the coaching ranks and mentored many quarterbacks along the way. One of those quarterbacks was Kirk Cousins. The two worked together in Washington when O’Connell was the quarterbacks coach. Now the two have reunited in Minnesota and their first year together was a resounding success. Can they keep the momentum going? Let’s break that down further and offer a record prediction for the 2023-2024 season.
Wide receiver Justin Jefferson has quickly become one of the best receivers in the NFL. The former LSU Tiger has taken the league by storm and is on pace for a record-breaking career. Jefferson was close to breaking the single-season receiving yards record last year when he racked up 1,809 yards. This season I expect Jefferson to in fact break that record with 2,015 receiving yards. The addition of rookie Jordan Addison will help open up space for Jefferson and allow him to do more damage.
Beyond adding Addison the Vikings also invested in the tight end position by trading for T.J. Hockenson last year. Hockenson wasted no time making his mark on the Vikings offense as he hauled in 9 receptions in his Minnesota debut. He also reset the tight end market with a record-setting 4-year $66 million contract extension that he signed last week. It shows that the Vikings are invested in him long term and rightfully so. Hockenson has quickly become a top 5 tight end in the NFL.
For as good as the Vikings offense was last year the defense was the exact opposite. The defense struggled all year long and it eventually led to the firing of defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. The Vikings will now look to former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores to rebuild the unit. Flores has a track record of getting the most from his defenses but Vikings fans should be patient. While I expect improvement in 2023, it’s going to take a couple of years for this defense to be formidable again.
Looking ahead to next season I expect some regression for this Vikings team. The offense will once again be explosive but the Vikings had several wins last year that could’ve gone either way. Sill Minnesota will battle for a wild-card berth and could make some noise once the playoffs start.
2023 Record: 10-7 (2nd in the Division)