Some Tough Questions For Vikings’ OC Kevin Stefanski

Should we be seeing some improvement here?

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After the Vikings tough loss to Green Bay on Sunday, quarterback Kirk Cousins got most of the blame. Some should be shared by his new offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski.

In 2018, after the Vikings let QB Case Keenum walk and paid big money to Kirk Cousins, their incumbent quarterbacks coach, Kevin Stefanski, kept the job. 

After a 13-3 season in 2017, the Vikings went 8-7-1 with Cousins at point in 2018.

While Cousins wasn’t exactly showered with accolades, he wasn’t considered the primary reason the Vikings so disappointed fans with their offensive play in a season which ranked them 19th in total offense, 26th in 3rd down conversions, and 21st in points in the red zone.

No.  The culprit there was the Vikings’ offensive line. Minnesota couldn’t run the ball, couldn’t pass block, etc.  Whatever the rationale, Kevin Stefanski was made Minnesota’s new offensive coordinator officially after the season ended.

A year later, after two games, the Vikings’ running game is second in the NFL in yards, first in touchdowns, and their chief running back is averaging 6.5 yards a carry and 132.5 yards a game. But in a contest where the Vikings rushed for 198 yards, the Minnesota offense was for 4-13 on third downs against Green Bay and 0-2 on points in the red zone.  Cousins was 14-32 on the day with a QB rating of 52.3.

Indeed, it’s fairly rational to see Vikings’ fans ready to run Cousins out of town on a rail after only two games, but perhaps a strong argument could be made for sending his coach out with him–or maybe just in his place. 

New Talent?

New Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Stefanski is a young and good-looking guy.  He has a formidable beard. He is intelligent, well-spoken and shows character and diligence whenever he presents himself.

But what else is he? What else has he really done? Who has he coached under, learned from? What are the principles of his game-plans as the Vikings’ new offensive coordinator?

Here’s some history:

-He’s now beginning his 14th season in Minnesota
-He spent three seasons (2006-2009) as an assistant to Brad Childress
-He was the Vikings’ assistant quarterback coach from 2010-2013
-Vikings tight ends coach from 2014-2015
-Vikings running backs coach in 2016
-Vikings quarterbacks coach in 2017 and 2018

Job Description

What does a quarterback coach do?

He works on everything in a room and a practice field that usually consists of no more than three players. He concentrates his attention to one, the starter, making sure he is the best player he can be on Sunday.

Is that what we saw last year? Is that what we saw against Green Bay yesterday?

Kirk Cousins connected on just over half of his passes yesterday, he fumbled the ball twice (one recovered by Minnesota on a third-down run), and threw two interceptions in a game where the Vikings’ defense had to play mistake-free football for three full quarters to give their team any chance of winning. 

After the game, Cousins stood at the press podium and humbly took his licks, just as he has numerous times before after close losses in which he’s played poorly.

Thanks, Kirk. Gotcha. But we’d like to ask your offensive coordinator a few questions. 

Like these: 

Coach Stefanski–where are your tight ends? Aren’t these the guys that often bail out your quarterback in pressure situations?

Kyle Rudolph had three catches yesterday for nine yards. Irv Smith Jr. had one for -1 yards.  That’s four carries and eight yards in two games now, right?

Coach Stefanksi–do you rehearse pressure scenarios with your quarterback and practice? Through training camp? What is your quarterback learning about using any part of the pocket to his advantage? Or securing the ball when he has to move, run, or even when he’s looking downfield? 

Coach–why has Cousins been having problems with his accuracy?  In preseason game three, in week one, and yesterday, this quarterback left big plays and points all over the field with errant passes, no? 

Coach–what is your wide receiver three and four situation?  Sure, it was a nice play by WR Chad Beebe on that broken field catch-and-run, but one catch in two games?

Coach–it is our impression that new offensive coordinators often have the advantage over veteran defensive coaches with their innovations in offensive designs because there is some variable or new creative approach in their playbooks that these coaches have not seen. We’ve witnessed little of that. Could you comment?

And finally:

Coach Stefanksi–you’re at the point of developing, as well as communicating, an offensive football stratagem at the highest level possible. You are attempting to do so against opponents with the highest level of acumen and physical ability.

All due respect, sir, is this the job for you?

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  1. A bit harsh after 1 bad game if you ask me. Everyone wanted us to run the ball this year and we are. #2 in rushing yards, #1 in rushing TD’s. The Packers loss was not on Stefanski, it’s solely on Cousins. He had multiple opportunities to win the game and failed to do so. If that 1st down RZ pass ended in a TD everyone would be saying what a great play call. But Kirk threw the ball into double coverage and didn’t throw away from defenders. That’s on him.

  2. Great read. Especially on the protection the play calling was horrible. Cousins runs for a first down in a clutch 3rd and long loses the ball but we recover. We immediately go into the spread with Dalvin our only help in the back field. We are spread so the defense is as well. Dalvin has too wide of an area to help if the line fails. One second in we have a lineman on the ground then two more fall on top of him. Cousins get stripped. That’s notbon Kirk. You are in the redzone. They are gonna cushion either way. We should have a pro-set on the field giving us the most room to tack on yards. Horrible play calling.

  3. This is laughable. The guy ran the ball as much as he could. Then decided to trust his QB to make a play or throw it away. The OC is suppose to put his team in position to make plays. Looks like plays were there to be made, players just did not execute. Sure, we would like to see some more innovation. But ultimately the guy has to work around the limitations of Kirk, which is exactly what fail the OC last year. You put really any other starting QB in that game and Vikings win. Either way the coordinator can’t be afraid to have his QB make a play. I mean he trusted a guy making $84 million guaranteed. God forbid he let him throw at all on a game winning drive.

  4. This is one pathetic team, maybe when they go 5 – 11 they’ll get rid of the head coach and general manager! The Vikings will never win with these clowns running the show!

  5. What does Kevin have to work with? That’s like the Vikings making CJ Ham the featured back.

  6. It was all of those clown’s fault. Zimmer playing too soft against Rodgers, Stefanski being blind to Cousins playing his “C or D ” game and Cousins playing a bad game like he was rookie & then making bad decisions worse. Why would any defense give Rodgers a 7 yard cushion to throw in, that’s stupid when you have a good pass rush & he will probably throw quickly. Why in the world would Stefanski call a pass play in that area when Cousins isn’t passing well & we’re averaging 7 yac, that was stupid too. Why don’t they max protect Cousins & throw the bomb. We have some good wrs that can probably get a step or 2 for a bomb. We need to score more points, 30 a game to beat the best teams & not just GB. I hope the HC fines & doesn’t start Diggs for the stupidness that he did.

  7. Well thought out Mr. Greitzer~I can’t agree more it’s why I have been calling Stefanski a OC in training~And rest assured Zim wasn’t going to had the offense over to the first time OC with a total of 3 games under his belt~~Not without having a backup plan~Inter one Gary Kubiak and his gang who has a son on the staff who is the QB coach who might get daddy to stuck around if Stefanski willing or unwilling walks after the season and Klint Kubiak is the next to step up as the OC in training~

    There was no way Zim was going to walk blindly into another OC screw up~I don’t see Stefanski getting more than a few loses before being replaced by daddy Kubiak while he gets his son ready for 2020 as the next OC in training~Plus it should keep daddy around if Gary shows he is still capable of getting QB’s and the offense playing well together~

  8. Lamest article Ive read in a long, long time.
    Newsflash: Stefanski isnt the qb coach anymore. He’s the offensive coordinator. And the playcalling in both games was excellent. Cousins f…ed it all up. Where are the tight ends? They’re on the field- being overlooked or overthrown by Cousins. Thats where they are. Only mistake Stefanski made was thinking Cousins might perform like a competent professional.

    1. But he was the QB last year when Cousins lead the league in turnovers? He’s the OC and has no responsibility about how his QB and his offense works together?

  9. Seems as most fans are in agreement, Cousins is the issue. We payed big bucks for a mediocre QB, oh his stats look good until you see how he preforms against a winning team. I mean both interceptions were mistakes red shirt college QB’s make. He’s been a pro for how long……..and telegraphing were he’s going to throw the ball. Bench him and bring in the back up can’t be much worse.

  10. Cousins lost the game pure and simple. The OC called a reasonable play and Cousins screwed up by not throwing it away. Case Keenum and most experienced QB’s would have tucked the ball and scrambled or thrown it away. Stefanski and Kubiak are not the problem. The problem is Spielman and Zimmer for signing a pathetic QB that Jay Gruden would not. Gruden who knew Cousins better than anyone knew he didn’t warrant a huge contract with his limited skills. Its not shocking the Vikings are struggling with Cousins. What did he prove in Washington. Fire Spielman and Zimmer and hire Kubiak to put the pieces back together.

  11. Im guessing Zimmer will be fired before seasons end. Kubiak will be interim coach and hired as head coach in 2020. Cousins will get another shot next year. As far as Spielman is concerened, hes overstayed his welcome far too long.