Which big decisions backfired on the Minnesota Vikings in 2020?
If last year’s offseason period was an eventful one for the Minnesota Vikings, then what comes next throughout this spring is going to be even more dramatic.
The Vikings appear at a real crossroads after narrowly missing the playoffs this past season despite a significant turnaround in their fortunes after the bye week. Still, there is obvious trepidation surrounding the team’s long-term ambitions moving forward.
Minnesota is expected to be hit by the financial implications surrounding COVID-19 more than most. They are right up against it from a salary-cap perspective, and it is going to take a substantial amount of maneuvering from the powers that be to ensure they remain competitive without sacrificing much in the way of quality on their roster.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman does have a bounty of NFL Draft picks to bolster the ranks. But much more than unproven college prospects will be needed to get Minnesota back into the Super Bowl conversation.
Looking back on the past few months, what were some of the biggest decisions made by the Vikings front office that backfired on them in 2020?
Decision No. 1
Not starting Cleveland sooner
Minnesota’s interior protection was not up to the required standard this season. It was a patchwork group coming in that had some serious questions to answer, which they failed to do in no uncertain terms.
One bright light to emerge from this was Ezra Cleveland, who finally earned a starting role during the campaign after the Vikings utilized the No. 58 overall selection in last year’s NFL Draft to secure the former Boise State standout.
He ended up playing 622 snaps during his rookie campaign, and although the lineman is credited for giving up five sacks, there was a lot to like about the way he handled himself.
His 66.2 grade from Pro Football Focus is a further indication of Cleveland’s high production level despite his lack of experience. If Minnesota had put him out on the field earlier, it could have made all the difference.