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With a mere 35 yards passing (compared to 192 for the Cardinals) in the first half, the top half of the Vikings’ roster showed a strong need to get back to the drawing board before they begin the 2019 regular season.
With week one of the regular season looming, rookie quarterback Kyle Murray has less to worry about than Vikings’ veteran Kirk Cousins.
In an eerily similar performance to their week 3 loss at home to the Buffalo Bills last year–a pretty awful team like the Arizona Cardinals–both the Vikings’ starting offense and defense showed that their attention was not on the football field yesterday.
Kirk Cousins was not only sacked twice, he was remarkably inaccurate with his passes in the first half, including a first series bomb which sailed yards over an open and streaking Stefon Diggs.
In reality, the impressive display of Dalvin Cook‘s 85-yard touchdown run, combined with the fact that significant Vikings’ starters like Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, and Linval Joseph were sitting out, lends credible light to the argument that a Viking win would have come of this game if it counted and all were counted in.
But let’s put that aside. On Saturday–in their home stadium–the Minnesota Vikings looked like an old, flat football team ripe for an upset.
Just like week three of 2018. In a game that defined their season.
What Up, X?
Whether or not Xavier Rhodes thought he had safety help on plays in which he found himself chasing Cardinal receivers yesterday is a question you don’t want being asked two weeks out of the regular season.
Is Rhodes sliding as an athlete or a tactician these days? Or both?
We also watched Rhodes’ teammate, defensive end Everson Griffen kiss his kids on the sideline before the game, but get nowhere close to laying anything on rookie Cardinals’ QB Kyler Murray, being beaten soundly and consistently throughout the first half by a single lineman.
Has Mike Zimmer begun to entertain notions of moving Danielle Hunter into the right defensive end position over Griffen?
If he hasn’t, maybe he should. Minnesota is not generating an effective pass rush with four down linemen.
Their counterparts, the Arizona defensive linemen, spent the first half doing just that. They forced Cousins into errant throws, batted passes, and got sacks by forcing pressure up the middle of the pocket.
In fact, it looked a lot like 2018 out there. Talk about throwing the tape away.
I Get No Kicks
Kaare Vedvik missed two field goals. Ho-hum.
Is it time for the Vikings’ organization to ask the league permission to extend the width of the goalposts at US Bank Stadium?
Should the Wilfs’ consider putting new turf on their field or get new footballs for their team?
As Mike Zimmer said postgame:
“I honestly don’t know.”
This Vikings place-kicking dilemma threatens the sanity of all fans, coaches, and players. Only a Viking kicker himself can solve it.
Coach Dennison’s Tough Decisions
The running game is working. With just a dash of Dalvin Cook we see what is capable behind a solid working moving line and a concerted power blocking scheme.
But, to the certain chagrin of Vikings’ offensive line coach Rick Dennison, it’s become obvious that players like Pat Elflein are not handling quality pass-rushers at this level.
In the NFL, creative defensive line stunts and twists force offensive linemen to be both athletes and decision-makers at the point of attack, and the battle for the quarterback is played out in split-second tactical situations.
The Vikings are going to lose these battles without more attention reverting back to such tactics. Along the line, and across their football team.
That means that the basics they’ve learned and developed and rehearsed throughout the last two months needs to re-addressed.
This team needs to go back to Summer School.
At least the Vikings get to make another presentation to their fans on September 8, 2019. In same place, against the Atlanta Falcons.
We’re expecting to axe that bird, gentlemen. Please don’t let us down.