VT BD: Vikes Scary Loss to Dallas— Seen it Before

VT Breakdown: S4 E8 Joe Oberle and Star Tribunes Mark Craig talk Vikings lost to Cowboys

“Same as it ever was!”—David Byrne of the Talking Heads from the song Once in a Lifetime

I quoted the Talking Heads at the top of this piece because I am one (if you click on the link to the Vikings Territory Breakdown podcast with Joe Oberle and Star Tribune’s Mark Craig, you will see that) , plus the sentiment aptly sums up the Vikings’ Halloween night loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Vikings had a chance for victory over a beatable opponent (who played a backup quarterback in his first start in the NFL) and they lost in the last seconds of the game.

They have done it before this season and here it was again. But this game was bad and dispiriting on many levels. The Vikings lost to the better team at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 31st, but they shouldn’t have and the blame for that horrifying loss that just may have kicked away the rest of the season and has become the first domino in a chain that will result in firings and changes at season’s end (or mid-season). Heads will roll after this one, as the hue and cry for head coach Mike Zimmer’s job are louder than the stadium after the opening drive touchdown pass to Adam Thielen.

But you see, after the efficient and effective scoring drive, the Vikings crawled behind their horrifying masks and back into the ground finishing six feet under in a 20-16 loss. Primetime Kirk Cousins showed up in his most nervous and misfiring and check-downing self. Even when he had time or made time by stepping up in the pocket, he would inexplicably miss an open receiver and short circuit a drive.

His bad play (augmented by ultra-conservative play-calling) allowed the Cowboys to stay in a game they should have lost with Cooper Rush at QB. The defense did not shut down the run in the first half and then could rush Rush and stop the pass in the second half and the Cowboys sunk the Vikings to a record of 3-4 and essentially created that six-feet-under hole as the road games in Baltimore and LA loom. The whole team, from GM Rick Spielman on down to the practice squad has to be asking themselves: “My god, how did I get here?”

There is plenty to break down here and I am joined by the Star Tribune NFL writer Mark Craig to analyze it all for you. This one will reverberate for some time to come, as Danielle Hunter went down and calls for changes went up. You’d think that just Once in a Lifetime” the Vikings could win the Super Bowl, but that suddenly seems far, far away from us all.

Here are some topics we discussed on the podcast. Check it out:

In this Vikings loss 9 of the Vikings’ 12 possessions lasted five plays or fewer. Kirk Cousins was 23-of-35 for 184 yards (5.2 yards per attempt) and one touchdown. The offense has failed to score an offensive touchdown in the 2nd half for the 5th time in their 7 games this season… And they have yet to score one at US Bank Stadium. 

This is just not an NFL quality offense with that kind of output. Who gets the blame?

Then Kirk became Checkdown Kirk, throwing constantly behind the sticks. Is that because of nervous Kirk (he certainly was) or due to conservative play calling?

Were you satisfied with Zimmer’s answer on the conservative game plan? That Dallas was in some kind of defense designed to put the team in checkdown mode. Shouldn’t the Vikings be able to adjust?

Is it Kirk, Klint or Zim that is keeping the offense grounded? C.J. Ham three receptions to Justin Jefferson’s two. And Jefferson only had one more target (four) than C.J. (three). Whose fault is it that we never throw a pass down field and see if our talent receivers can make a play? Kirk, Klint or Zim?

Offensive line—Darrisaw was okay and Bradbury was brutal. Udoh had back-to-back holding calls. How soon before we see Davis or Cole at center?

Last drive before half—Kirk tells the media “I just let Zim handle the timeouts because I never know quite what the coaches want to do with that.” He can’t call time outs and he can hardly change the play at the line? How is this possible for a 10-year vet?

Midway through the second quarter, the Cowboys had 58 yards rushing. They were gashing the Michael Pierce-less run defense. Then Dallas went away from the run (they finished with 78 yards) and gave the ball to Cooper Rush and told him to beat the Vikings. Can you explain that thinking and why it was such an effective adjustment?

I don’t recall seeing Harrison Smith so lost out on the field. Was he trying to do too much?

Xavier Woods was fired up to beat the team that spurned him. He had to have left that game feeling very pissed. He then told a reporter that the defense only game-planned for Dak when Zimmer said they plenty of film on Rush. What’s up with that?

Danielle Hunter is now lost for the season again, but there wasn’t a pass rush on Rush when he was in there. They ran into a good offensive line to be for sure, but now the unit, which is also missing Pierce and traded away some of its depth in Weathery is looking extremely weak.

The Vikings lost to the better team. The defense was better, the offensive line was better and somehow their quarterback was better than the Vikings QB. How do you fix it?

The hot seat doesn’t even describe what’s happening. It is hell fire under Zim’s chair right now.

After this Vikings loss how do they handle Lamar Jackson with only an old Everson Griffen chasing him down?