5 potential scapegoats if things go wrong for the Vikings in 2022

(Photo by Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) Kirk Cousins /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) Za’Darius Smith /

Za’Darius Smith – OLB

Securing the services of Za’Darius Smith was a major coup by the Vikings in free agency. The outside linebacker’s been a thorn in their side during his time with the Green Bay Packers and anything similar from a production standpoint would make a massive difference in their playoff quest.

After 26 sacks in 2019 and 2020, last season was a frustrating one for Smith. Injury restricted the former fourth-round pick to just one game and the Packers made him a salary-cap casualty with a mixed response this spring.

It was something of a surprise to see Smith join Green Bay’s fierce divisional rival despite his links with some coaching staff on the Vikings. But if the player fails to meet objectives and the team struggles, then some backlash could arrive as a result.

Smith is a new arrival with no connection to Minnesota’s fanbase as yet. Some supporters will also quickly remember that he used to play for the Packers if things don’t go according to plan.

The Kentucky product is highly motivated to prove people wrong this season. This also applies to fellow edge rusher Danielle Hunter thanks to his own injury problems over the last two seasons.

If both hit it off and return to the form of old, the Vikings will have devastating pass-rushing tandem.