Three unanswered questions for the Vikings heading into 2021
How the Vikings will do in 2021 comes down to a variety of factors. Minnesota has a tough schedule, but the team signed a plethora of free agents who should at least improve the defense.
The Vikings, like many teams in the NFL, need their offensive players to stay healthy, due to a lack of depth on that side of the ball. Minnesota has some questions the team needs to answer this year.
Here are three:
How will Greg Joseph do as the team's kicker?
Aug 27, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph (1) scores a field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph missed two kicks in back-to-back preseason games. That wouldn't be cause for concern if the Vikings had Justin Tucker, but Joseph is a relative unknown. In fact, he hasn't been in a regular season NFL game since 2019, and that year he just took extra points for the Titans. How will Joseph do when he gets to the 2021 regular season? Who knows?
How will the offensive line hold up?
Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Brian O'Neill (75), left, and offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland (72) look on in the third quarter during an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/David Berding)
The Vikings saw one of their top offensive linemen, Riley Reiff, depart for the Bengals this offseason. The Vikings drafted his preemptive replacement in the first round: Christian Darrisaw. But Darrisaw has been limited much of this offseason due to injury, so Rashod Hill is currently in line to be the new starting left tackle, at least for the time being. The Vikings need Ezra Cleveland and Garrett Bradbury to take leaps in 2021. They need Brian O'Neill to stay healthy. And they need Oli Udoh to be serviceable in his first year as a starter, unless Wyatt Davis can eventually fill in and thrive. If some of those things don't happen, Minnesota could be looking at another year where its quarterback is under pressure.
Just how retooled is the Vikings defense?
Minnesota Vikings defensive back Bashaud Breeland (21) breaks up a pass intended for Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman (11) during the first half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota let some key veterans go in the offseason of 2020, electing to go with younger players on defense. The worst case scenario happened: the young players were inconsistent and free agent departures like Xavier Rhodes played well. The Vikings took the job of retooling their defense a little more seriously this offseason. Minnesota signed Dalvin Tomlinson, Sheldon Richardson, Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland and others this year. Instead of draftees, the team is going with established veterans. But Vikings fans have not seen enough of the defense in anything other than a preseason capacity so far. A lot of key players have not suited up for the Vikings in a regular season game. Will those new additions perform well in a change of scenery? Fans will have to wait until Sept 12 in Cincinnati to really have an informed opinion.