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Minnesota Vikings selected as most improved team

Andrew Buller-Russ

We know Colin Cowherd of FOX Sports is a huge fan of what the Minnesota Vikings have done this offseason. Previously, he made the outrageous claim that the Vikes would “double their win total” from a season ago. Being that they finished 8-9, that seems incredibly unlikely. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, he probably misremembered their win total from 2021.

Still, Cowherd hasn’t since backed down, or cooled off on his feelings about the new-look Vikings heading into 2022.

Colin Cowherd is a big believer in the Minnesota Vikings

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Minicamp
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

While the Minnesota Vikings may not be the popular choice to reach the Super Bowl heading into next season, Colin Cowherd clearly thinks they can make the playoffs. He specifically stated that he believes the Vikings have a strong chance of taking a massive leap this fall.

“Half the teams that made the playoffs last year will not make the playoffs this year. I think the Minnesota Vikings will be the most improved team in the league with an offensive head coach.”

What he says is true. Typically, roughly half the teams who made the playoffs the year prior don’t make it back the next. For some teams, like the ones with stacked rosters complete with an elite quarterback, they’re more likely to be an annual contender, barring injury.

For the Vikings, just based off their division alone, they figure to have a fighting chance. The Chicago Bears have done very little to improve, the Detroit Lions have added weapons offensively and defensively, they figure to be much more competitive, but no one is scared of them at this point. Of course the Green Bay Packers will remain a contender until Aaron Rodgers no longer proves effective, but, coming off an MVP year? Good luck.

That doesn’t mean the Vikings can’t compete for the division crown, or at least a wild card. They certainly have improved, but how much?

Related: Minnesota Vikings training camp 2022: Schedule, tickets, location, and everything to know

Looking at how the Minnesota Vikings improved this offseason

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Minicamp
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start at the very top, with the chief decision makers. The biggest change the Vikings made was separating from Rick Spielman, hiring Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as the next general manager. This was a big change, but equally as impactful was going from Mike Zimmer to Kevin O’Connell, an inexperienced, yet promising offensive mind.

Is that an improvement? Time will tell, but for now there’s palpable excitement about having a head coach who appears to have a more aggressive approach, leading to more of a pass-heavy approach. This should only help take advantage of their best playmakers, namely Justin Jefferson who’s one of the very best in football at his position.

Aside from the ones behind the scenes, the Vikings have made several roster additions aimed at improving their weaknesses, or at the very least to shape their new approach.

With Ed Donatell bringing 31 years of NFL experience to the defense, he envisions a 3-4 base defensive front, which is a big change from the past. To do so, the Vikings not only added one of the best pass-rushers in recent time by stealing Za’Darius Smith from the division-rival Packers, they also get a fully-healthy Danielle Hunter back from injury.

Offensively, well they already added O’Connell, but on the player personnel side, they didn’t need to do much to fix a 14th-ranked scoring attack. When you boast Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen, you’re off to a hot start.

One area of need was a weakened interior offensive line, to which the Vikings added three NFL vets who have 108 starts between them, all competing for one position at right guard. This isn’t even mentioning their second-round selection Ed Ingram, or last year’s third round pick Wyatt Davis. With last year’s first-round pick Christian Darrisaw only likely to improve in his second season, the offensive line is set to take a large step forward.

Another large area of weakness under the final years of the Zimmer era were a beaten down, depleted secondary. But that position group’s seen an influx in talent too. The biggest addition might be projected starting safety Lewis Cine, the team’s first round pick from April, but cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. figures to receive strong consideration for a starting role too. With Pro Bowl talents such as Harrison Smith and Patrick Peterson returning, this group has a fair mix of experience and youth, it could be the ideal mix to form a special blend.

All of this is to say, the Vikings may not have made the splashiest additions this offseason, but they already had a talented core to work with. Maybe a coaching change, plus a few improvements to their weaknesses can provide the perfect solution to their woes of season’s past. Who knows? But Colin Cowherd is all-in.

Related: Overpaid or underrated: 2022 outlook for Vikings QB Kirk Cousins