For the Minnesota Vikings, the sum of the parts aren’t even coming close to what the whole should be. It was never more obvious on Monday Night Football.
The Vikings headed into Seattle to play a Seahawks team that hadn’t been particularly special on defense with an opportunity to get their offense back on track after struggling in their past two games against winning teams.
Instead, they didn’t just struggle on offense, they lost 21-7 and put on a performance that sent Vikings fans into flashbacks of the franchise’s offensively-inept Christian Ponder and Tarvaris Jackson days.
This can’t continue if the Vikings have any hopes of maximizing the talent they have put together during Mike Zimmer’s time as head coach.
The Vikings opened the first half of Monday night’s game the way they ended last Sunday’s against the New England Patriots. They put together zero points in the first half and quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for just 27 yards.
Cousins looked petrified, flustered, confused. And the offensive line once again looked overmatched, despite the offense trying to use more “balance” with Dalvin Cook. The Vikings’ first four drives went: Punt, punt, punt, punt.
They had some opportunities on third-and-short but failed each time.
Somehow Adam Thielen went the entire first half without a target. Somehow Laquon Treadwell had more touches than Thielen by the time the fourth quarter started.
Opening the second half, recent history might have suggested the Vikings could get rolling on offense against a mediocre defense. In Week 2 they were down 22-7 to Green Bay on the road and found a way to come back and tie the game with an explosion of passing success by Cousins.
Even against the Bears, Cousins made the game close at the end by throwing all over the place in the second half.
That wasn’t even close to the case in the third quarter. When the fourth quarter started, he had 56 yards.
Dalvin Cook did find some rhythm, as he did against the Patriots. Entering the fourth, he had 53 yards on 11 carries, but he wasn’t effective enough to carry the offense on his back with Cousins struggling mightily.
With the Vikings’ defense playing spectacularly well considering the lack of help on the offensive side, Cousins and the offense were in a position to take the lead when they found themslelves in Seattle territory for the first time. Instead Latavius Murray was stuffed on a bizarre fourth-and-1 call to slam the ball up the middle rather than sneak with Cousins — a play that had been successful earlier in the drive.
To start the fourth, the Vikings finally took a shot, hitting on a deep bomb to Stefon Diggs for 48 yards to put them in scoring position. A nifty play by Thielen on a quick pass got them to the goal line, but Cook was stuffed on third down and Cousins threw an incompletion in Kyle Rudolph’s direction to fail once again to produce points.
A three-and-out gave the ball back to the Vikings, but they failed to hit on a third-and-long pass in Thielen’s direction. Unsurprisingly, a field goal failed for the Vikings.
Down 14, the perfect bow was put on a horrendous offensive night with Cousins fumbling for a Seahawks TD.
Before garbage time at the end of the game, Cousins was just 16-for-27 for 138 yards. As they always do, the Vikings added a late meaningless touchdown to lose by 14.
There are fingers to point everywhere. Should Zimmer have criticized offensive coordinator John DeFilippo for not running the ball enough? Should the Vikings have put together a better offensive line? Should the Vikings have gone with a more experienced offensive coordinator when Pat Shurmur left?
Most things about this team can’t be changed at this point. Cousins is the quarterback, the O-line is what it is. But the Vikings could make a change at OC and hand the reins over to quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski.
If not, there has to be a massive change in philosophy from the OC or Zimmer taking more control of the offensive gameplan.
Even with the loss, the Vikings are in prime position to make the playoffs, but winning two of the final three games seems like a massive uphill battle with the current state of the offense. And if they do get into the postseason, how could anyone believe they would win a game?
The last resort is to make some type of overhaul. It wouldn’t be unprecedented. The 2012 Ravens changed OCs after Week 14. Otherwise answers need to come quick.