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5 New Year's resolutions for the Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings could have an important year in 2024.
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When the ball drops on Sunday night (either in Times Square or during their game at U.S. Bank Stadium), the Minnesota Vikings will head into a crucial year in 2024.

While the Vikings' playoff hopes could still be alive with a win over the Green Bay Packers, many eyes will be on what they can do in 2024 to make themselves a legitimate contender in the NFC.

In this article, we'll make five New Year's resolutions for the Vikings in 2024 and see if they can manifest the phrase "New Year, New Me."

1. Take care of the football

While many could point to injuries as a cause for the Vikings' decline in 2023, a bigger reason was Minnesota's inability to take care of the football.

The Vikings rank third behind the Cleveland Browns (35) and New York Jets (32) with 30 turnovers entering Sunday night's game against the Packers. While many of the giveaways have been accelerated by the performance of backup quarterbacks Josh Dobbs (five interceptions) and Nick Mullens (six interceptions), the Vikings also rank fourth with 14 fumbles lost this season.

Kevin O'Connell has done his best to solve the problem, threatening to bench players and buying gadgets from Amazon to tell his players to hold onto the ball. But the message doesn't seem to be getting through and its cost the Vikings from building off a 13-win season a year ago.

2. Fix the running game

The Vikings said goodbye to Dalvin Cook last summer in hopes of a more efficient running game, but Minnesota's efforts to establish the run have proven fruitless as one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL.

Many were surprised when Alexander Mattison re-signed with the Vikings coming off a career-low 74 carries last year but he was given the starting job in training camp and parlayed it with 3.9 yards per carry.

While Mattison is looking for his first rushing touchdown of the season, the Vikings tried to find a replacement. Seventh-round draft pick DeWayne McBride, who had a starter's grade from the front office, didn't make the main roster and Cam Akers suffered a torn Achilles after he was acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams.

Some believe that Ty Chandler can take over the starting role, but his play and usage have been inconsistent. While Chandler is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, he's had just four games with 10 or more carries and posted a 4.3 ypc since Akers was injured on Nov. 5.

Whether the answer is bringing in a veteran free agent or taking another shot in the draft, the Vikings need to find a dynamic component to their running game in 2024.

3. Find impact players on defense

The Vikings' defense emerged as a top-ten unit under Brian Flores, but with the possibility of him leaving for a head coaching job, they'll have to find impact players to sustain their success.

In his first year as defensive coordinator, Flores unleashed Danielle Hunter, helping him notch a career-high 15.5 sacks and a league-leading 21 tackles for loss. But with Hunter a pending free agent, there's a lack of key contributors on that side of the ball.

Safety Harrison Smith could either be released or retire as he holds a $19.1 million cap hit for next season and while rookies such as Ivan Pace Jr. and Mekhi Blackmon have stepped up, none of them are at a level to keep offensive coordinators up at night.

Perhaps a top-ten draft pick or a major free-agent signing with the $37.2 million in cap space could solve the problem, but the Vikings will need to add talent to their defense this spring.

4. Stay healthy in 2024

We mentioned injuries earlier in the article but it bears repeating after several Vikings missed significant time in 2023.

Cousins was the biggest blow as his torn Achilles sent the Vikings into a carousel at quarterback, and there were other ailments that left Minnesota shorthanded throughout the year.

Justin Jefferson's hamstring injury was a big drain on the offense and T.J. Hockenson's multiligament knee injury could set the Vikings back in 2024. Even the loss of Marcus Davenport, who had 3.5 sacks in four games before suffering an ankle injury, was a big blow and left the Vikings trying to get the most out of their talent.

The Vikings are hoping that a different style of field turf will help prevent injuries but they'll also need a little luck. After staying relatively healthy a year ago, Minnesota will need the same fortune if they hope to compete next season.

5. Find a franchise quarterback

In the history of the Vikings, finding a quarterback has felt a lot like vowing to eat better in the new year. While the correct move is adding some exercise and eating healthy, the Vikings tend to head to McDonald's after spending 10 minutes on the treadmill.

This is where the conversation about Cousins's contract comes into play. With a knack for big money and guaranteed contracts, another deal could hamstring the Vikings' ability to build around him and leave the Vikings striving for another nine-win season.

Think of Cousins's contract like a Big Mac. It's not a bad option when you're in a pinch but could become hazardous to your health if you have one too many. If Cousins isn't willing to come back at a team-friendly rate, the Vikings will have to find another option.

Perhaps signing Baker Mayfield in free agency and selecting a quarterback in the draft is the right answer. Maybe it's a trade that could bring a bigger name like Kyler Murray to Minnesota. Whatever it is, the Vikings need to put a succession plan in place, otherwise they'll wind up making the same resolution one year from now.