The Vikings were the class of the NFC North by a wide margin last season with a 13-3 record. No one expected them to replicate that success, especially when you consider their incredible 11-0 record in one score games. Yet, many expected the Vikings to still compete for a playoff spot. After all, they still entered the season with arguably the best wide receiver in football in Justin Jefferson. They added another talented pass catcher with first-round draft pick Jordan Addison. They brought in Brian Flores to work as the new defensive coordinator and spent three top-150 picks to improve their leaky defense that ranked 31st in yards allowed and 28th in points allowed in 2022.
But the Vikings have regressed in a big way over the first five weeks of the season. The defense has marginally improved, but not enough to make an impact towards winning games. The offense remains explosive, but turnovers have been a problem. In the end, the Vikings have a 1-4 record and are tied with the Bears for last place in the NFC North.
How did they get here and what went wrong? On this Friday’s episode of the “Under Center Podcast,” Vikings beat reporter Alec Lewis joined the show to break it down.
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“The secondary is just lacking talent,” Lewis said on the “Under Center Podcast.” “In 2022, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s first draft, he drafted Lewis Cine in the first round, traded back and drafted Lewis Cine, who has played– I don’t think he’s played a defensive snap this year. He suffered a compound fracture last year, but he recovered from that and still hasn’t been able to assimilate his way into the lineup. Then their second-round draft pick that year, Andrew Booth Jr., was a cornerback who had dealt with injuries in college at Clemson, and has dealt with injuries since they drafted him. Though he is healthy at the moment, he hasn’t been able to perform.”
Missing on picks happens to all GMs. Missing on top picks however can set a franchise back. Without the requisite talent to execute, Lewis believes Flores is put in a tough spot and has had to get creative to try to find something that works.
“You’ll see four edge rushers, seven DBs,” Lewis said. “There is some crazy stuff that he’s trying. He’ll blitz zero. He’s throwing everything at the wall. He’s throwing curveballs, sliders, knuckle sliders, he has really tried to come up with every facet to throw offenses off guard, and I think the Vikings now, though they have limited explosive plays, I believe second-best in the league at defensive limiting explosive plays, they’re allowing the second-highest completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks just with the amount of space the secondary is giving receivers. It’s just an obvious limitation of this team.”
The Bears recently found rhythm on offense and finally started hitting on big passing plays against the Commanders in Week 5. If the offensive line holds up against the Vikings defensive line like they did against the Commanders, that could be a path to victory for the Bears.
To listen to the full episode and hear all of Lewis’ breakdown of Bears vs. Vikings, keep your eyes peeled for the release of the entire show on Friday on NBC Sports Chicago’s YouTube page, or wherever you listen to podcasts.