E Point Perfect

Did the Vikings Fail to Adjust on Offense?

Did the Vikings Fail to Adjust on Offense?
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings went into Philadelphia on Monday Night Football as 2-point underdogs. It seemed like a game they should be in, and one that could be close following a nice showing in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers. Then it went sideways, and they never adjusted.

Brought in from the Los Angeles Rams high powered offensive organization, the expectation for Kevin O’Connell as the Vikings new head coach was to take the offensive gameplan to new heights. Rather than the monotony and predictability under Mike Zimmer and whatever coordinator fell from the family tree, the hope was a scheme that utilized the vast amount of playmakers on Minnesota’s roster.

Despite a 24-7 loss on Monday night that had ample opportunity to close the gap, Minnesota never really felt in this one.

The 2022 Vikings, According to All National Power Rankings: Week 3
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Looking back on how players were utilized, it’s hard to understand the thought process. Unlike Green Bay in Week 1, the Eagles have a shutdown corner in Darius Slay. He routinely matched up with Justin Jefferson and held the talented star in check. Despite being blanketed most of the evening, Kirk Cousins still dialed up 12 targets for Jefferson, resulting in just 48 yards and two interceptions. Adam Thielen has long been a star veteran in the league, and despite seven targets and leading the team with 52 yards, it wasn’t until the second half that Minnesota was reminded he was on their team.

Arguably the most egregious performance of the night came from tight end Irv Smith Jr. After being out-snapped 40 to 19 by backup Johnny Mundt in Week 1, Smith Jr. was on the field for six more plays (34-28) during Week 2. Unfortunately, he made a negative impact through the opportunity presented to him. Despite catching a touchdown pass, there were two critical instances in which the talented tight end couldn’t beat a mediocre linebacker to get open, and then there was the disgusting drop that would’ve led to him walking into the end zone backward. It was nothing short of disaster for a player that has been seen as a breakout candidate for years.

If we’re puzzled by the execution in the passing game, then there also has to be some question as to what happened with the running game. Predictability is something the Vikings became too synonymous with during the previous regime, and they were largely one-sided Monday as well. The team’s leading rusher was Cousins, with Jalen Reagor generating as many yards (17) on a single end-around as Dalvin Cook did on six carries. As a whole, excluding the scrambles by Cousins, Minnesota dialed up just nine running plays through the entirety of a game that they lost by just 17 points.

Vikings MNF Struggles on the Road Are Not Done
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

As a whole, a lot needs to change from the ugly outcome on Monday night. Moving the ball around in the passing game is a must when Jefferson faces difficult coverage. Continuing to have Cook be involved is a no-brainer. Finding a way to unlock a usable version of Smith Jr. should also be a priority.

It’s now just Week 3, and the Vikings have plenty of runway in front of them, but working to avoid the same mistakes has to be a priority going forward.

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Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.

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