Vikings Lose Identity to Niners, Look to Rebound Week 13
The Minnesota Vikings lost their identity in Santa Clara, California.
Rubbing salt in the wound — is how they were beaten up by their own philosophy and brand of football.
The San Francisco 49ers are well-coached, a formidable force in the playoff hunt in the NFC. Quarterbacked by Jimmy Garoppolo, who is average and has limited mobility, the Niners brand is to run the ball 30 times or more a game and create explosive plays using play-action, formations, many different motions, amongst other things.
Sixth-rounder Elijah Mitchell continues to have a great rookie year, dominating the Vikings in Week 12. He forced an array of missed tackles, displaying some power and great vision.
Deebo Samuel created explosive plays with his legs all game. Samuel coming up lame in the 4th quarter is discouraging to see for 49ers fans. But it is not said to be a significant injury. He was dynamic, and his playmaking ability put Shanahan’s group over the top.
In an untimely fashion, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins had his worst game in recent memory. A poor interception really hurt Minnesota early in the 2nd half.
Star running back Dalvin Cook tore his labrum and dislocated his shoulder on a thunderous hit in the backfield, in which guard Oli Udoh was engulfed as well. Cook fumbled the ball away at that moment, giving Minnesota an uphill battle the rest of the way.
Adam Thielen had a great first half with two strong-handed touchdown receptions. Meanwhile, Justin Jefferson was making plays. Kene Nwangwu, a rookie from Iowa State, flashed blazing speed and continues to dazzle returning kicks. He will see the ball in games to come in light of Cook’s injury.
The Vikings lost their identity yesterday, and it showed.
Offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak ran the ball seven times yesterday in the first half alone, with only 11 more carries following to finish the game. 18 times is not enough.
In most successful games, the Vikings rush the ball for 25+ plays a game. So, some of the down-and-distance situations became unfavorable. The Vikings struggled to get the ball in the end zone, having a fresh four inside the 10-yard line with a little more than ten minutes remaining. They called two runs and two passes consecutively in order and were shut down each time. Mattison stuffed on first and second down, but another run could not have hurt using Nwangwu or getting creative with play action at the goal line as they have before.
For the record, San Fran ran the ball 40 times. 40. That is the identity the Vikings have displayed in recent years. The Minnesota Vikings of Adrian Peterson’s career say hello.
Having Jimmy Garoppolo drop back a casual 26 times is precisely all that Mike Zimmer would prefer Kirk Cousins do, I’m sure.
The offensive line beat the second and third stringers Minnesota’ssota’s defensive line. With Shanahan’s offensive line generating push and paving large holes, the Vikings could not get the 49ers off the field. San Francisco controlled the line of scrimmage and tempo all game long. It was quite unfortunate the Vikings could not take advantage on a day when rookie RB Kene Nwangwu returned a kick for an electric 99 yards.
The NFC playoff race is going to be a wild one.
The Vikings sit at (5-6) in the seventh seed, behind the SF 49ers at sixth. The Vikings can earn a wildcard berth simply by taking care of business against their divisional foes and beating an ever-aging Big Ben Roethlisberger.
Yet, one thing to know is Viking football is sure things are not certain. As of now, including Sunday, 10 (yes, 10) of the Minnesota Vikings first 11 games this season have come down to 1 possession in the final two minutes of the game — a truly astounding season Minnesota is having, wild ride for the fans with heartbreak and triumph in all different ways.
This loss can be easily forgotten with a win in Detroit.
Some keys to the Detroit game on offense:
— Run the ball 25+ times
— Play-Action bootleg, create explosive plays downfield
— Possibly try new Offensive Right Guard
— Shut down the run, under 100 yards
— Pressure Jared Goff- make winning game much easier, need 4+ sacks
— Tackling, angles, and coverage were very weak in 2nd half
Mike Zimmer and his bunch are fighters, just like he says. Injuries, COVID-19, and other issues are adding up and breathing down their necks.
Backs against the wall, Vikings must regroup for a must-win game against the Detroit Lions. The Lions, an interdivision rival and winless team, are dangerous and have nothing to lose. The depth will continue to be tested on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
Players such as Alexander Mattison, Kene Nwangwu, Camryn Bynum, Wyatt Davis, and Rashod Hill will most likely be thrust into action this coming week. Christian Darrisaw, Dalvin Cook, Everson Griffen are some guys who have been playing key roles that can miss time. This roster is being put to the test every week.
If Mike Zimmer claims they are resilient fighters, the Vikings need to reclaim their identity and bounce back with a win come Week 13.
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