2024 Vikings: 4 Reasons for Optimism

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Wm. Glasheen-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a 7-10 season, the expectations are low for the 2024 Vikings. Minnesota lost starting quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency after six seasons as the signal-caller, which is the main reason for the generally skeptical approach. The win total is currently set at seven, and the franchise faces the worst odds to win the NFC North.

2024 Vikings: 4 Reasons for Optimism

Still, there are some reasons for optimism with the upcoming season in sight.

Brian Flores

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores watches his team play against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Flores was hired in the 2023 offseason after a disastrous season with Ed Donatell coordinating the defense. He implemented a unique scheme, and the players had to learn new techniques and plays. An adjustment period was the logical consequence. Halfway through the season, the defense found its groove.

The defenders are now more experienced in the system, meaning Flores can be even more creative. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah acquired Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Dallas Turner, resulting in a potentially upgraded pass rush despite Danielle Hunter’s exit. Blake Cashman provides more explosiveness at the second level, and the young secondary is more experienced than a year ago.

Aaron Jones

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) celebrates after defeating the Chicago Bears during their football game on Sunday, January 7, 2024, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The running game has been a disaster in the two seasons with Kevin O’Connell calling the shots, and there must be some changes. The first step was Alexander Mattison’s release following his first year as a starter in the NFL, and the Vikings hope that former Packers runner Aaron Jones can be a significant upgrade.

He missed some time in 2023 because of hamstring and knee injuries but showed elite explosiveness in the last month of the season and the subsequent playoff run. In addition to his rushing skills, Jones is an excellent receiver out of the backfield.

Jones will form a duo with Ty Chandler, who took the job from Mattison late in his sophomore campaign. The hope that the rushing attack can be more effective is reasonable.

Kevin O’Connell

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates with quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

In his two seasons in charge of the team, Kevin O’Connell’s operation has a 20-14 record in the regular season despite Cousins missing nine contests. He seems to provide a solid floor with his offensive play-calling.

Without Cousins, the Vikings surely had some remarkably bad performances on offense, but Nick Mullens had two games with at least 390 passing yards, and Joshua Dobbs delivered some magical moments. Both of those players did that under O’Connell’s guidance.

It wouldn’t be shocking if Sam Darnold had a career year with him in his corner. Having a coach with a track record of getting the best out of his quarterbacks is intriguing.

Promising Sophomores

Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) shown on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing group in 2022, Adofo-Mensah’s 2023 draft class produced some wonderful players. Jordan Addison immediately became an outstanding wingman for Justin Jefferson, and linebacker Ivan Pace was an integral part of the Flores defense. Another step is possible.

In addition to the top contributors, there has been some buzz about safety Jay Ward, Jaquelin Roy might play a larger role on the shaky defensive line, and cornerback Mekhi Blackmon showed flashes in his first campaign.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this article.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and prefers Classic rock over other genres. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt