Expert Takes on the State of the Vikings

Posted Mar 5, 2018

The Vikings have yet to determine their starting quarterback for 2018, but what about the rest of the team?

In 1-on-1 interviews with’s Mike Wobschall, NFL experts from across the league weighed in not only on the Vikings QB situation, but also on the team as a whole heading into the 2018 season.

Many opined that Minnesota is set up for another successful season after making it to the NFC Championship game.

“Philadelphia won [the Super Bowl], but after Philadelphia, I thought [the Vikings] were the most complete team,” said’s Jeffri Chadiha.

Chadiha went on to say that the Vikings will benefit from the return of running back Dalvin Cook, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in his fourth pro game last season. Chadiha said that Cook will bring back that “big-play presence” for the team.

“They get him back, hopefully the knee’s going to be OK,” Chadiha said. “And you have Latavius Murray, you have a good mix of runners back there. The offensive line is solid; maybe you beef it up a little bit more. But on defense, there’s a lot of things from the defensive line, to the linebackers, to the secondary.

“You’ve gotta pay guys – that’s the big thing now because a lot of these younger guys are getting older,” Chadiha added. “You’re talking about adding more money, so we’ll see what happens. But I think as far as overall roster, they’re right up there at the top of the NFL.”

Greg Cosell of NFL Films echoed Chadiha, saying that the Vikings are “coming into a really good situation.”

Cosell emphasized not only the players but the Vikings coaching staff slated for the 2018 season, including new Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo, and he said Minnesota has fostered an ideal situation for whoever ends up being under center.

“You have a really good defense, you’re going to have Dalvin Cook back as your lead back, you’ve replaced a really good offensive coordinator with another really good offensive coordinator in John DeFilippo,” Cosell said. “So I think it’s a really, really good situation for a quarterback. You have a team, you’ve got a run game, and you’re going to be really well coached.”

And then there’s the defensive side of the ball.

Minnesota’s defense has become more and more dominant in each year under Head Coach Mike Zimmer, and the Vikings have been able to maintain a core group of players.

ESPN’s Louis Riddick said the unit has “some absolute studs” on the defensive line.

“Both inside and outside,” Riddick said. “Linval Joseph is a beast. Everson Griffen’s one of the best athletes in the league, period. So is Danielle Hunter.

“At linebacker, Anthony Barr’s one of the best athletes in the league. [Eric] Kendricks is one of the best athletes in the league. And they’re good football players,” Riddick continued. “Harrison Smith is a hammer at safety … Xavier Rhodes is a shutdown No. 1 [corner].”  

Riddick pointed out that there are areas of the Vikings defense that could improve, however, to strengthen the group even more and suggested that a couple issues were exposed during the NFC title game at Philadelphia.

“Even though you’re operating from a position of strength, there’s plenty where a coach and GM could go, ‘We’re still not quite good enough.’ Which is a pretty cool problem to have,” Riddick said. “You know you’re good, but you’re not quite good enough. I love that defense, personnel-wise, how they’re put together, and then fundamentally how they play – which is fast, furious. They try to bully people, they try to intimidate you. That’s all right up my alley.”

NFL Network’s National Insider Ian Rapoport said the Vikings are “a really good team.”

Rapoport expects the Vikings to carry over success from 2017 and continue it in 2018.

“We can all focus on the quarterback, and that’s important. But the reason it’s most important is because this is a team that’s in a Super Bowl window,” Rapoport said. “The defense is really good – probably even getting better, because there’s still a bunch of young guys who are sort of climbing. The receivers are obviously really good, a good tight end, [and] the offensive line got rebuilt so quickly, I can’t even believe it. They just need one solid position to kind of put them over the hump.”

ESPN’s Field Yates added that determining the quarterback and avoiding injuries will be key to Minnesota heading into the 2018 season.

Yates described an “appetite in the offseason” that sometimes yields an unrealistic perspective.

“People feel that certain clubs need to make these massive, significant strides, or they need to consider retooling, rebooting and starting from scratch,” Yates said. “The reality is, I think there are a handful of teams that, if they return basically the same nucleus – which, in the NFL, there’s always turnover from year to year – on paper I’d still look at them and say, ‘They’re going to be a force.’

“And the Vikings are certainly in that mix,” Yates continued. “Defensively, you’ve got dominant players at all three levels. You’ve got pass rushers, you’ve got linebackers that can run and you’ve got an outstanding secondary. On the offensive side of the ball, you rectified the offensive line – it played much better last year. So I think staying healthy and finding the quarterback clarity, those right there are the keys for Minnesota. Everything else is in place.”