4 Big Questions for the Vikings Heading into the Second Half of the Season
The Minnesota Vikings have suddenly found themselves in a playoff spot after rattling off four straight victories to go from 1-4 to 5-4.
Things have certainly turned around for the better, but still, this team has plenty of question marks as we head into the second half of the NFL season.
With a Week 10 matchup against the New Orleans Saints looming, here is a look at 4 big questions that this team must answer as the season progresses.
What Happens at the QB Spot?
Obviously, Joshua Dobbs is going to be the starter for the Vikings in Week 10 against the Saints. That being said, the topic of the Vikings starting QB seems like it is just getting started. Rookie Jaren Hall started last weekend, and even though we didn’t get to see much of him because of his concussion, the fifth-round pick looked poised and ready for the moment.
It would make sense for the Vikings to give him another chance this season considering they have committed the most to him in terms of his draft status as well as the contract, but it could require a poor outing from Dobbs.
Then, we also have to consider that Nick Mullens could be back from IR soon, and he has proven to be a capable passer in his limited starting experience in the NFL. There’s a three-horse race right now, so who will the Vikings ultimately decide to ride with?
What Does the Offense Look Like When Jefferson Returns?
When Justin Jefferson went to IR, it seemed like all hope was lost for this Vikings team. Instead, they’ve rattled off four consecutive wins without him, and Kevin O’Connell has done a great job of finding ways to get other players involved.
In fact, the Vikings offense has actually found a way to be more efficient without Jefferson in the lineup, jumping from 17th in EPA in the five weeks with him to 7th in the four weeks without him.
Part of the reason for this may be that the Vikings were simply force-feeding him the ball too much, thus making their offense a bit predictable. Now that O’Connell has found the magic potion to get all his receivers involved, can he continue to do so with his star WR1 in the lineup?
Who Takes on the RB2 Role?
Cam Akers was lost for the season due to an Achilles injury. As a result, the Vikings are once again facing a similar question as they were at the beginning of the year: who exactly is going to take on the RB2 role for the team moving forward?
There are candidates on the roster in Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu, but neither has been given much of a role in the offense to this point in their NFL careers. Chandler has recorded just 13 touches for 85 yards in 2023, and Nwangwu is yet to play an offensive snap this year.
DeWayne McBride could be a dark horse candidate. The 2023 seventh-round pick has been on the practice squad all season waiting for his opportunity, so perhaps the Vikings will opt to elevate him at some point this year as well. Regardless, the Vikings will need to find someone to replace Akers’ abilities in the running game and as a blocker.
Will Marcus Davenport Return?
One of the Vikings’ premier free agency signings this spring was pass-rusher Marcus Davenport. He has had a bit of an inconsistent start to his career, but Minnesota was hoping that his potential would come to life and serve as a replacement for Za’Darius Smith.
Unfortunately, Davenport suffered a high ankle sprain against the Chicago Bears, and he has been on IR ever since. There has been little discussion of a timeline for his return, either. The Vikings could use another consistent pass-rushing threat on their defense, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to return to the field in 2023.
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Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.