With the NFL’s schedule release behind us, we have officially hit the doldrums of the offseason. Players are signing their rookie contracts, veterans still available are finding new homes and OTA’s are in the process of beginning.
This is the time to start truly looking forward to the 2022 season. And it’s a pivotal one for the Vikings. They have put the franchise in the hands of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell with the idea being they’ll elevate the team in ways Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer were unable to do so.
This is the first of a three-part series where I dive into the main storylines of the Vikings opponents for the 2022 season. The first edition lies with the AFC opponents. The Vikings play the AFC East and the second place team in the AFC South.
Can the Vikings secondary contain the Miami Dolphins’ speed?
After the Dolphins traded back from the No. 3 pick to No. 12 in the 2021 NFL draft, they immediately traded back up to No. 6 so they could secure the future at the wide receiver position in Jaylen Waddle. This offseason, they traded for the other top speed demon in the league, Tyreek Hill.
Having that kind of speed on both sides presents a massive challenge for the Vikings’ secondary. Two players having the speed to take the top off of the defense will present challenges that the Dolphins can exploit in both the running and passing games.
Will the Vikings ‘corners be able to cover the Dolphins’ receivers down the field consistently enough, or will Ed Donatell have to play two-high all game?
The Buffalo Bills and Stefon Diggs’ revenge game:
We know all of the drama surrounding Diggs during the end of his tenure with the Vikings. It started after the Week 4 game against the Chicago Bears. He did not come to the building for practice and said, “There’s truth to all rumors,” when asked if he requested a trade.
On the first day of the legal tampering period in 2020, the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to his extension and Diggs made his feelings known.
At the end of the day, Diggs was right in wanting an offense focused on throwing the football. He will be the talking point leading up to kick-off and will likely play with a huge chip on his shoulder when the Vikings face the Bills in Week 10.
Another talking point that will be discussed: Josh Allen: leaping Anthony Barr and destroying the Vikings in his second career start.
Should the Vikings have drafted New England Patriots QB Mac Jones?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports:
Let tread lightly here.
If the Vikings would have drafted Mac Jones at No. 14 overall last year, I would have buried the pick. I saw him as the seventh best quarterback in the class behind both Kellen Mond and Davis Mills, and thus far, I have been justified in that assessment.
Jones is not a player that can push the ball down the field or create on his own — two things I need to see from a quarterback in order to take him in the first round.
With that being said, this will be the talk of Minnesota for that short week. The Vikings had a path to move on from Kirk Cousins, and it was with Jones.
As it is with everything Vikings, talk about Cousins remains supreme, and if he gets outdueled by Jones in primetime —a slot that Cousins has difficulties with — it will likely become insufferable.
Could game against the Jets be a trap game?
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports:
Seemingly, every year in the Mike Zimmer era the Vikings had one game where they’d forget to show up. More often than not, those games were at home (Colts 2016, Bills and Bears 2018, Packers 2019, etc). The thinking is the regime change will help remedy some of the issues that Mike Zimmer had.
The Jets at this point in the season (Week 13) feels like one of those teams. Robert Saleh is in his second year as head coach, and the Jets spent the offseason adding talent at positions of need. If quarterback Zach Wilson takes the next step, this could be a tough matchup for the Vikings and one that could be overlooked.
It’s the last of a three-game homestand, and the Vikings will have 10 days’ rest before the game. With a playoff push likely needing multiple wins down the stretch, looking ahead to a divisional opponent could help the Jets catch them.
Indianapolis Colts and Vikings could be in must-win situations by Week 15:
Both the Vikings and Colts last year were spitting distance from making the playoffs. With both teams only slightly improved, we could see a scenario where this game is a must-win for the teams to stay in the playoff hunt.
Both the Colts and Vikings have good offenses with talent but holes on defense and quarterbacks who are good but not great. The last two meetings have not been friendly to the Vikings. They have lost the last six games, including a 35-6 loss in 2016 and 28-11 loss in 2020.