An Open Letter To All Minnesota Vikings Fans
In what feels like the blink of an eye, the Minnesota Vikings season is officially done. After losing a first-round playoff game to the New York Giants yesterday (1-15-23), the Vikes head into the offseason. What a fun and strange year for anyone who roots for the Vikings. They ended the season with a record of 13-4 and were the winners of the NFC North division for the first time since 2017. With how many close games the Vikes were in this season, I wouldn't be surprised if this season took 1 day off of Vikings fans' lives.
If you would've told me back in May that the Vikes would have ended the year with a 13-4 record, would win the NFC North, and have at least one home playoff game, I would've told you, you were dreaming.
Having a new first-year head coach, a brand new offense, and a brand new defensive scheme being installed doesn't always add up to instant success. Somehow, someway, the Vikes willed themselves to win 11 one-score games this season. This was a weird team to watch all season long.
They never had the feel of a playoff team. There were multiple games this year where they got the doors blown off them and at times during the year, I wouldn't have blamed anyone who said they weren't any good. Despite all of that, they somehow kept on winning close games.
If I'm being honest, I was treating yesterday's game like the Vikings Super Bowl. If they would've won yesterday and advanced to the next round of the playoff, there's no shot they would've been able to head to San Fransico and left with a victory. I would've been happy with home playoff win. It's never simple for Vikings fans and with this team, there was one very glaring problem... the defense was terrible.
In the game of football, offense can win you games and sell tickets, but to quote the all-time great football coach, Bear Bryant, "defense wins championships." The Viking's defense this season was nothing short of horrendous. They were quite literally the worst defense in the league in terms of yards allowed. The Viking's defense ranked 32 out of 32 and averaged giving up over 400 yards a game.
Pretty tough to win a championship in the NFL with a defense like that. All in all, yeah the loss stinks, and I wish they would've won but with the struggles that the team faced on the defensive side of the ball, they weren't going all the way.
Hopefully, they can regroup and build on the defensive side of the ball for the next season. I won't be able to stand watching another year of the Viking's defense performing like that. They made backup quarterbacks look like hall of famers and to this day, I still don't know how they left the middle of the field open all season long.
In a roundabout way, I'm kind of impressed that they just decided to never fix that part of their game. The defense left the middle of the field, wide open, for 18 straight weeks. You'd think at some point someone would accidentally cover someone in the middle of the field but surprisingly that didn't even accidentally happen. Maybe they can sign a free agent or two and hit on a draft pick. That could change the entire look of the defense next year.
I'm not one who ever wants people to lose their jobs but it's amazing to think how much better this team could've been had their defense been just average. They didn't even have to be incredible on that side of the ball. Simply average would've probably been good enough to win multiple playoff games.
I sadly think the new Vikings coach, Kevin O'Connell, will have his first firing on his hands, and they will be looking for a new defensive coordinator next year. Something has to change on that side of the ball.
Here's another saying Vikes fans are all too familiar with "there's always next year."