Welcome to the fifth and closing installment of our five-post collection of questions with the of us from Football Outsiders about the 2022 Minnesota Vikings in celebration of the launch of this yr’s model of the Football Outsiders Almanac (out there in each digital and print variations).
Our questions for this yr went to Derrik Klassen, who yow will discover on the Twitter machine @QBKlass. He wrote the chapter on the Vikings for this yr’s Almanac, so he took the time to reply the 5 questions I posed for this yr’s squad. Our closing query has to do with the outlook for the 2022 Vikings, as the Football Outsiders projections appear to essentially like the membership.
The preview for the Vikings on this yr’s FO Almanac says that “It’s bizarre how a lot our projections like this crew in 2022.” Without making a gift of an excessive amount of, why do the numbers assume that the Vikings might be a crew that surprises this season?
For this query, Derrik handed the baton to Aaron Schatz (who yow will discover on the Twitters @FO_ASchatz), who’s the man who handles the projections for Football Outsiders and is the Editor-in-Chief of the website.
On offense, a whole lot of the difficulty is simply the chance of rebounding to prior efficiency. The Vikings had a top-10 offense in each 2019 and 2020. Kirk Cousins in all probability is the participant in the NFL who forces the greatest disagreements between stats folks and movie folks, however the dude is persistently like the tenth finest quarterback in the league, statistically . On protection, maybe we’re giving an excessive amount of credit score for gamers getting back from accidents. Our system might anticipate Za’Darius Smith and a wholesome Danielle Hunter to be greater additions than they actually might be. It additionally likes drafting defensive gamers excessive up, together with Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth. And the Vikings had an above-average defensive DVOA final yr on each down/play cut up besides for first-down passes. Overall, the common of the vary of projections comes out with a top-10 offense and particular groups mixed with a mean protection and a straightforward schedule (twenty fifth). That’s going to be a fairly good crew if it occurs, higher than persons are anticipating.
Now, once more, with out making a gift of the complete retailer. . .as a result of the Football Outsiders Almanac is price the buy and I’d be an actual jerk if I simply gave you, like, the whole Vikings chapter or one thing. . .this yr’s projections give the Vikings an almost 60% likelihood of being a playoff crew in 2022 (59.7%, to be exact). The projections additionally give the Vikings a 43% likelihood of successful between 9 and 11 video games this season, and a 23% likelihood of successful 12 or extra video games. For a crew that went 8-9 in 2021 and performed in a whole lot of one-score video games, that looks like a fairly important bounce.
I’ll current a few paragraphs from the Vikings’ chapter of the almanac, one for the offense and one for the protection. . .and the summarizing paragraph, which is rattling close to excellent, I believe. Offense first:
Minnesota’s offense initiatives to be a step up from what they have been a yr in the past. Slight enhancements alongside the offensive line on high of no matter offensive flare O’Connell might carry ought to be sufficient to get the Vikings jostling for a top-10 rating once more. That’s usually what Cousins-led offenses have produced and it is simple to see why this yr might comply with the identical path until it seems O’Connell is out of his depth. Come January, that very same Cousins-led offense will in all probability fall somewhat quick the approach it at all times has, however a minimum of the Vikings might be taking part in watchable, even thrilling, offense once more.
I believe the offense will definitely have a a lot totally different look with Kevin O’Connell at the change than we have seen over the previous few years, that is for positive. How a lot totally different stays to be seen, however I believe we’re all anticipating one thing a bit extra explosive than what we have been used to seeing at the tail finish of the Zimmer period.
Now, on to the protection.
Collectively, the Vikings protection ought to take a step ahead, odd as that’s given a few of the circumstances. Not solely is that robust to sq. when shedding somebody as sharp as Zimmer, but in addition when contemplating first-year defensive coordinators, together with veterans of the job, have a tendency to not elevate their unit in the first season. Even Zimmer actually did not again in 2014. It’s simply tougher to put in and tighten the screws on protection than offense due to its nature as a reactive, not proactive, entity. That mentioned, when a crew appears to be like to be improved at edge rusher, security, cornerback, and maybe linebacker, a minimum of stylistically, then it is not a stretch to see how the inflow of expertise outweighs the anticipated rising pains of a brand new teaching workers.
There are going to be a minimum of a few acquainted faces lacking from the Minnesota protection this season. But, as the Almanac particulars, the stage of expertise, if something, is increased than it was final season, significantly if Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith can keep wholesome and be the pass-rushing terror duo that they are able to being. . The secondary may take its lumps, significantly early on, however the stage of expertise there may be increased than what the Vikings had in 2021.
And the finale:
We know it is somewhat bizarre how a lot our laptop projection loves the Vikings after two shedding seasons. But if the protection is primed for a point of enchancment and the offense returns to its typical top-10ish stage, then the 2022 Vikings might be ok to earn a wild-card bid, or even perhaps vie for the division title relying on how far the Packers fail It’s a weird place to be contemplating their turnover, however the Vikings have by no means been a crew that capabilities usually anyway. Heck, the finest yr in the Zimmer period was when Case Keenum randomly turned in a profession yr. That did not make any sense, however it did really feel becoming for the Vikings, as would an oddly profitable season following the firing of franchise staples corresponding to Spielman and Zimmer.
“But the Vikings have by no means been a crew that capabilities usually anyway.” Man, if that does not sum up the whole expertise of being a fan of this crew, I do not know what does.
I wish to thank Derrik Klassen and Aaron Schatz for taking the time to reply my questions on the 2022 Vikings and the projections that Football Outsiders has for them for the upcoming season. And, once more, if you wish to get your individual copy of the Football Outsiders Almanac for 2022, you may seize them at the hyperlinks up in the first paragraph.