The Minnesota Vikings have a big job to do this offseason, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell know that the team has to improve on defense if the Vikings are going to improve in the 2023 season.
In some ways, the Vikings are quite lucky in that they know what their weakness is and they have to address it. There is no false hope that the defense will perform at a higher level next season just because they fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and brought in Brian Flores to replace him.
Donatell delivered a vanilla game plan most weeks, and when the Vikings faced teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, their defense got taken apart with ease. It got even worse in the Wild Card game against the New York Giants. Not only were they beaten at home, they allowed mediocre New York quarterback Daniel Jones to pick them apart with ease and look like an All-Pro.
Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell know that changing the game plan with Flores is not enough. The Vikings need significant personnel changes to improve on defense.
As the free agency window was about to get underway, the Vikings were nearly $20 million over the salary cap. Adofo-Mensah made enough moves to allow the Vikings to participate in free agency. However they could not go after high-priced free agents.
Their primary signings have been cornerback Byron Murphy, defensive end Marcus Davenport and defensive lineman Dean Lowry.
Murphy has a chance to be an impact player, and that makes him the sneakiest free agent signing.
Of all the weaknesses the Vikings have on defense, the inability to cover wide receivers is their biggest issue.
Murphy should be able to step in and upgrade that area for the Vikings. Patrick Peterson has left through free agency and signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Murphy should be an upgrade.
When Peterson left the Arizona Cardinals to sign with the Vikings, Murphy replaced him in the desert. Now Murphy will get the same opportunity to replace Peterson with the Vikings.
Murphy is a 25-year-old second-round draft choice who should be coming into his own. He was limited t0 9 games last season due to a back injury, but he is healthy coming to his new team.
Murphy had 36 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 4 passes defensed last year. However, he was much more productive in the 2021 season. He had 64 tackles, 4 interceptions and 12 passes defensed that season, and he should be able to get back to that level.
Murphy believes that he is the right fit for the Vikings.
“I feel like this was the perfect fit for me,” Murphy said. “Knowing my coaches in Arizona had talked to me about the coaches and staff here. I kind of related to that and connected with that.”
If Murphy is capable of handling top receivers, this will be a winning move for the Vikings.
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