K.J. Osborn Has Thoughts on Vikings Sputtering Offense

The Minnesota Vikings are owners of the NFL’s 14th-best offense DVOA per FootballOutsiders.com through eight weeks of 2021.

The team performed well offensively in Week 2 versus the Arizona Cardinals and portions of other games – but rarely a start-to-finish domineering effort. On Halloween, quarterback Kirk Cousins showcased his first poor game of 2021, fending off oncoming pass-rushers most of the night while failing to find wide receivers downfield. The game was a replica of the Week 4 loss to the Cleveland Browns, another home defeat at a U.S. Bank Stadium venue that is usually pretty nasty for opponents.

The season was saved right before the bye week in Week 6 when Cousins delivered an overtime gem through the air to wide receiver K.J. Osborn. The second-year pass-catcher grabbed the ball of the sky, reached the thing over the pylon, and the Vikings walked-off the Carolina Panthers on the road.

Earth was back on its axis.

But then stuff teetered against the aforementioned Cowboys. Klint Kubiak’s offense was anemic once again. Therefore, the vibe is “back to square one” on wondering whether Minnesota’s offense will cook sooner or later. If the Vikings want to reach the postseason – they’re underwater right now with a 3-4 record – the offense must stabilize and become reminiscent of the Cardinals game from Week 2 when they damn near bumped off one of the top teams in the league.

Kubiak’s offense just needs to play loose and find consistency. The disappearing-act stretches are vicious.

The aforementioned Osborn as an idea to fix the offensive woes – let playmakers be playmakers. As simple as that. Here’s the full quote from the University of Miami alumnus:

“We can be the playmakers. I think it was a coach in college who said receivers, we can change the game. We can put it on us. Let us bring the juice. Let us bring the big plays and momentum. We can run a pass play and a lineman can miss a block, but we catch a ball 70 yards downfield, it don’t matter, we fixed it. Let us be the playmakers, let us be the momentum and get the team going. Those are the things we do, just hold ourselves to a high standard. We can be a great receiver group, so go out and do it. That’s what we preach. Go out there, know the call and do your job. That’s our saying.”

This is chiefly a statement of personal onus, encouraging his fellow pass-catchers to make the plays and break the news. Trashy offensive line play be damned ­­– feels like the subtle takeaway. One of the most damning head-scratchers from the Halloween game was Cousins’ hesitance in letting the ball rip down the field. With Osborn quotes like this, it seems the second-year wideout is recommending Cousins unsheathe the pigskin. Osborn has full faith Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, and himself can take care of the rest – just throw the ball in their vicinity, is the mantra from Osborn.

That alone could do the trick. Cousins has notoriously been afforded incompetent pass protection during his Vikings stint, so finding ways to push the ball downfield in spite of porous offensive line output should be nothing new.

Too often, the 2021 Vikings get bogged down in offensive conservatism, spelling disaster for win-loss outcomes of games. Minnesota’s defense might be pretty good, but it is emphatically not good enough to get out to a lead and marinate. The offense needs to take risks and throw caution to the wind.

Osborn endorses it – just let him and his pals make the plays. It’s all he asks.

For the most part, Thielen, Jefferson, and Osborn weren’t allowed opportunities to do so versus Dallas. And that’s why the Vikings lost.  

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).