4 Big Surprises from This Vikings Winning Streak

Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) scrambles against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After a 1-4 start to the 2023 season, the Minnesota Vikings have now rattled off five consecutive wins to get themselves all the way back into the playoff hunt.

The Vikings have done this without multiple of their key starters over the past month, and they’ve had to rely on a few unsung heroes to help them earn these victories.

As Minnesota prepares to try and extend this winning streak to six games, here is a look at four big surprises that have helped the Vikings get back on track.

Josh Dobbs’ Emergence

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) warms up before the game against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings won their first three games of this streak behind the arm of veteran gunslinger Kirk Cousins, but the streak likely would have ended a couple weeks ago if Josh Dobbs didn’t come in and play as well as he has.

Obviously, the second half of Week 10’s game against the Saints wasn’t spectacular, but Dobbs has completed 67.2% of his passes for 426 yards and 3 TDs compared to no interceptions. His 268 yards against the Saints were a career-high for the young QB.

Dobbs hasn’t just been great through the air, either. His mobility has helped the Vikings get out of precarious situations over the past two weeks. The QB has totaled 15 carries for 110 yards and a pair of TDs.

With Dobbs under center, the Vikings have scored more than 25 points in back-to-back weeks for the first time since Weeks 15-16 of the 2022 season. They will need a similar output against Denver this weekend.

Ed Ingram’s Pass Protection

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Ed Ingram (67) defends against Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Vernon Butler (94) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Ingram was one of the worst pass-blocking guards in the league during his rookie season. It certainly wasn’t a great start for a player who was selected in the second round of a draft.

The early results in 2023 were similar, with Ingram posting pass protection PFF grades below 50.0 in two of the first four weeks of the season. However, Ingram has begun turning things around since Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

From Weeks 5-10, Ingram has posted grades of 68.0 or better in three of the six games. Against Atlanta and New Orleans combined, Ingram gave up just one total pressure, and he is yet to be blamed for a sack since Week 5.

Overall, the Vikings pass protection has been much better this season than in previous years. Ingram’s production is a huge reason for that at the right guard spot. Hopefully, the second-year lineman is able to keep it going.

Mekhi Blackmon/Andrew Booth in Coverage

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (11) and Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) talk during warmups prior to the game at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past few seasons, the Vikings secondary has been a rather large question mark. For the most part, Minnesota has utilized veterans at or near the end of their primes to field the cornerback spot.

However, that has completely flipped in 2023. Not only are Byron Murphy and Akayleb Evans making plays as the starters, but both Mekhi Blackmon and Andrew Booth have stepped up to have very productive snaps in pass coverage.

Booth has played 56 snaps in coverage through the first 10 weeks of the season, and he has been targeted five times. On those five targets, he’s allowed just two receptions for 18 yards. He had a key pass breakup in Week 6 against the Bears as well.

Meanwhile, Blackmon has quietly been one of the more productive CBs in the NFL despite playing only on a rotational basis. In 170 coverage snaps, Blackmon has been targeted 21 times, allowing just 11 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown.

The Vikings young secondary has stepped up in a huge way throughout the 2023 season, and it will need to continue if Minnesota hopes to keep the good times rolling.

D.J. Wonnum’s Pass-Rush

4 Big Surprises
Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) celebrates his sack against the New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Davenport has spent a good chunk of this season sidelined due to injury. Danielle Hunter has played like his usual superstar self, but Minnesota has needed someone else to step up as a steady pass-rusher in Davenport’s place.

D.J. Wonnum has done exactly that during this winning streak. After recording just a single sack through the first five weeks, the pass-rusher has rattled off four of them during this five-game winning streak.

Wonnum has already passed his sack total of last season (4.0) while his five tackles for loss equal the amount that he had in 2022. PFF has credited the pass-rusher with 16 pressures during the winning streak, and his presence has allowed the Vikings to wreak on opposing offenses.

With Wonnum being in a contract year, he needed a strong season in order to land a larger deal in 2024. He has begun doing just that over the past month and a half.

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.