Three Decisions Quickly Became Mistakes for the 2023 Minnesota Vikings

Vikings Had the Worst Draft
Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

A disappointing Minnesota Vikings season came to an unceremonious end on Sunday when they lost to the Detroit Lions.

There are a number of reasons why the Vikings fell to 7-10 on the season, including a wide variety of injuries and some horrendous turnover luck. That being said, three decisions that the Vikings made before the season even began played a pretty large role in Minnesota’s downfall this season.

The RB Room

Three Decisions
Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jeff Okudah (1) during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The decision to part ways with Dalvin Cook this past offseason obviously was the correct one. However, it has always felt like a decision that should have happened sooner to ensure the Vikings had a chance to reevaluate their RB room before the season began.

Instead, it never truly felt like they had a set plan for their rushing attack. The experiment of Alexander Mattison as RB1 quickly went downhill, and for much of the second half of the year, they simply flip-flopped between Mattison and second-year back Ty Chandler. Part of that had to do with Mattison dealing with injuries, but Minnesota needs to take another look at the RB room this offseason.

Marcus Davenport Signing

Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Marcus Davenport (0) pressures Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (9) in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

When Marcus Davenport was on the field, he looked like a solid starting caliber player. That just simply didn’t happen often enough, though. It’s an indictment on the Vikings because that was the major concern with Davenport when Minnesota signed him.

Over his five seasons with the New Orleans Saints, he never appeared in more than 13 games during a season and missed a grand total of 19 games because of injuries. Davenport’s injury woes with the Vikings began immediately when he missed the Week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he played just four games all season.

Because of Davenport’s injury woes, the Vikings relied a ton on Danielle Hunter to carry their pass-rushing effectiveness over the course of the season, especially when D.J. Wonnum suffered a partially torn quad back in Week 16.

The QB Carousel

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) reacts while being chased by Detroit Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone (34) during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be clear: it’s very difficult to win games in the NFL after a starting quarterback goes down. It is far from impossible, though. We saw the Pittsburgh Steelers clinch a playoff spot this weekend despite losing Kenny Pickett for the final five games, and the Cleveland Browns were a dominant squad after Joe Flacco came in.

The Vikings, though, were unable to consistently win games after Kirk Cousins suffered his Achilles injury in Week 8. They finished with a 3-6 record over the final nine games, and none of Josh Dobbs, Jaren Hall, or Nick Mullens were able to lead the offense efficiently. Minnesota failed to properly address the QB2 spot this season, and a big part of that may be the fact that they didn’t stick with one player on a weekly basis.

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Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of 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.