A Five Step Plan for Minnesota to get Into Next Season’s Super Bowl
Perhaps it’s because I’m young and naive, but I still believe the Minnesota Vikings can win the Super Bowl. In fact, I think the team is closer than most people realize. Does this mean the path forward is an easy one? By no means. From my vantage point, the path has all kinds of obstacles, dangers, and pitfalls. The journey is a perilous one, and yet there is hope. Here are five things the Vikings will need to do to play in next season’s Super Bowl.
Hire a Dynamic OC (No Pressure, Lil’Kub)
The new offensive coordinator, Klint Kubiak, needs to be better than Gary Kubiak. The Elder Kub was a good offensive coordinator, but good isn’t good enough. Indeed, Minnesota needs to make the jump from a good offense to (at worst) a borderline elite offense. They can do it as long as Lil’Kub is an absolute stud.
The Vikings have their new offensive coordinator. They’ve promoted 33-year Klint Kubiak, as @TomPelissero first reported. Klint spent the last two seasons as the Vikings’ QB coach.Mike Zimmer loved the scheme Gary Kubiak brought. Now the offense is led by Kubiak’s son.— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) February 8, 2021
Recently, Mike Zimmer was complimentary of his offense, but acknowledges that there needs to be some improvement: “There’s so many things that we did well offensively last year. I like the continuity of the offense. But I think there’s some other things that we can add as well to make us even better. We had an awful lot of penalties last year offensively, which we need to change. Obviously we’ve got a good run game. We need to really look at the personnel and try to figure out where we can go from here and how we can get to the next step.”
It’s the final line that is the key. Look at the personnel – Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, and Irv Smith Jr – and commit yourself to getting the most out of that group. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be shredding the opposition. Lil’Kub needs to be the one who turns this group into an elite offense.
A Huge Step Forward for the Young Linemen
This one is true of both sides. On offense, we need Garrett Bradbury to become an elite center. He made progress in 2020, but not enough to justify that first-round draft slot. There’s no way around it: Bradbury needs to be considerably better. Brian O’Neill is our best o-lineman, and he needs this trend to continue as he becomes one of the NFL’s preeminent tackles. Otherwise, the focus shifts to Ezra Cleveland and even players like Oli Udoh, Blake Brandel, and Kyle Hinton.
Defensively, D.J. Wonnum needs to be more than just potential and bite-sized flashes of excellence. Armon Watts needs to assert himself as a consistently disruptive force from the interior. Hercules Mata’afa had some really nice moments, and he needs to solidify himself as a main part of Zimmer’s d-line rotation. A good defensive line is a disruptive defensive line. We therefore need our depth players to cultivate the ability to be consistently disruptive.
Danielle Hunter is Back Better Than Ever
Can anyone debate Danielle Hunter‘s importance to the Vikings? We all know he is one of the game’s best players, but the defensive line’s play without him was ugly. His impact goes beyond just his own production (which is excellent).
When Hunter is in the lineup, everyone else of the d-line gets a better matchup. The offense needs to allocate resources toward stopping Hunter. If they don’t, Hunter will win more often than not. Teams (very reasonably) must focus on slowing him.
If he returns, Ifeadi Odenigbo should be a much better player simply because Hunter is on the other side of the line. The same can be said for Wonnum. I know there are rumors that Hunter isn’t happy; Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer need to ensure they figure out how to 1) ensure Hunter is fully healthy and 2) ensure Hunter is happy to be a Viking.
Kirk Cousins Raises His Floor
Kirk Cousins is a low-end franchise QB. He isn’t Patrick Mahomes, Aaron “Voldemort” Rodgers, or Tom Brady. Few are. He is a really good QB who, for the most part, plays well.
Sometimes, though, the floor falls out and Cousins takes leave of his senses. The mistakes can just be mind-numbingly stupid. He pretty much single-handedly sunk Minnesota’s chances against Atlanta and Indy. The Vikings just aren’t a good enough team to overcome their QB.
Thankfully, Cousins showed legitimate progress in the final two-thirds of the year. As he continues to strive toward raising his ceiling – a noble endeavor – Cousins must simultaneously commit himself to raising his floor. Losing a game or two because our QB soils himself can be the difference between getting into the playoffs and missing the playoffs.
The Special Teams Help Instead of Hinder
Ryan Ficken – Minnesota’s new ST coordinator – has a ton of work to do. I don’t think there’s any component of the special teams that the team can really be happy with. Virtually every component of the special teams struggled at some point in 2020.
Initially, the plan was for the ST to be a strength. The Vikings spent a considerable amount on this side of the ball, evidently due to their belief that specials could consistently put the team in advantageous positions. Quite the opposite was true. The solution here will likely rest in revamping the game plan, adding talent, and more injury luck.
I’ll merely reiterate what many of us have said: go get Cordarrelle Patterson.
The Minnesota Vikings will need a lot of luck if they’re going to get into next season’s Super Bowl. The same can be said for pretty much every team in the NFL. Life comes at you pretty fast in the NFL (as our friend Ferris might say). It’s a league that allows for teams to rise and fall very quickly. If the Vikings follow TVG’s five-step plan for Super Bowl success, Minnesota might be able to snag that elusive Lombardi.
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