If you are a Minnesota Vikings fan, last season had disappointment written all over it after the team’s upgraded and highly paid quarterback, Kirk Cousins, failed to unite a team that had just tasted a bit of postseason blood the year before.
It wasn’t that Cousins didn’t play well – he threw for 4,298 yards, the second most yardage in his career – it was just that the team couldn’t convert all that offensive yardage into wins, falling a half game short of breaking even at 8-7-1.
Minnesota’s front office made some offseason (and a couple of 2018 mid-season) moves to re-sign some important elements of their effective defense as well as sign and draft some improvements to their offensive line, and we take a look at those as well as the odds and predictions of their 2019 season.
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For the second time in three seasons, the 2018 Minnesota Vikings failed to make it to the postseason after a lousy (and shocking) 8-7-1 record put them in 2nd place of the NFC North and well out of reach of the NFC Wild Card spots.
It wasn’t supposed to go that way with their new $84 million man, quarterback Kirk Cousins, who had just had his third 4,000+ season in a row for the Washington Redskins, but despite throwing for 4,298 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2018 for the Vikings his new team struggled to win games.
In head coach Mike Zimmer’s five seasons, the Vikings have been to the playoffs twice (2015 & 2017) and it was supposed to happen again in 2018 with their upgraded QB, but a weak offensive line allowed protection to break down too early and too often, so much so that offensive coordinator John DeFilippo was fired mid-season in December and replaced by quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski.
The 2018 season was a disappointment for the Minnesota Vikings, who have used the 2019 offseason to bolster their offensive line and retain their effective defense.
General manager Rick Spielman decided to use what little salary cap the Vikings did have to re-sign two defensive potential free agents, linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive end Everson Griffen, instead of using that cap space to beef up the problematic offensive line.
But having already lost defensive end Sheldon Richardson to free agency, losing both Barr and Griffen could have greatly weakened the Vikings defense, which was ranked 4th overall last season.
Using free agency and the draft, Spielman addressed the O-line issue by signing a solid guard, Josh Kline (formerly of the Tennessee Titans) and using their first round draft pick (18th overall) to select North Carolina State’s Garrett Bradbury, who can come in and immediately start at center.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who signed a three-year, $37 million contract with the Cleveland Browns that included a $5 million signing bonus and $21 million guaranteed.
Running back Latavius Murray, who agreed to a four-year, $14.4 million deal with the New Orleans Saints, with $7.2 million of that money guaranteed.
Left guard Nick Easton, who agreed to a four-year, $22.5 million contract with the New Orleans Saints, with $4 million of that guaranteed.
Linebacker Anthony Barr, who agreed to a five-year, $67.5 million deal, with $33 million of that guaranteed.
Right guard Josh Kline, who signed a three-year, $15.5 million contract, with $7.25 million of that guaranteed.
Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, who signed a three-year, $12.45 million deal, with $6 million of that guaranteed.
Kicker Dan Bailey, who the Vikings had brought in mid-season last year to replace Daniel Carlson (the rookie kicker who missed three field goals in Week 2 against the Packers), was re-signed to a one-year, $1 million dollar contract that is worth a maximum of $2 million with incentives.
Offense: Guard, tight end.
Defense: Safety depth.
The Vikings ended up with 12 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft (the most they’ve had in franchise history since the seven-round format began in 1994), and they were:
Over the last decade, the Minnesota Vikings have been to the playoffs four times, twice losing in the Conference Championships (2009 & 2017) and twice losing in the Wild Card Playoffs (2012 and 2017).
Despite having made appearances in four Super Bowls (1969, 1973, 1974 and 1976), the Minnesota Vikings have never won a Lombardi Trophy,.
The Vikings did win an NFL Championship in 1970, the last year it was held, which earned them a berth in Super Bowl IV, which they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, 7-23.
Many experts have the 2019 Minnesota Vikings at double-digit wins (10-6) despite three tough road games from Weeks 9 through 13 against Kansas City, Dallas and Seattle.
In spite of that optimism, oddsmakers have the Vikings finishing third in the NFC North behind the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers, meaning worse off in their division than last season when they at least finished above the Packers in second.
There are six other NFC teams that have the same or better odds of making it to the Super Bowl next season so it will be up to Cousins and his new offensive line (and coordinator) to figure out how to convert all his passing yards and touchdowns into wins.
Will Cousins’ Vikings finally start closing the deal on some of the close games and turn some of those one-score losses into wins?
Did Spielman do enough to strengthen the offensive line this offseason or will defenses continue to upset Cousin’s rhythm?
Can the Vikings defense continue to dominate, or will the loss of Richardson take some of the sizzle out of their quarterback attack?
Zimmer’s Vikings have made the playoffs every other year, which makes this year a postseason one, but the offense has to find legs under its new on and off-field leadership before the team can once again begin to dominate the NFC.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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