Second-guessing your favorite football team is a right of passage in this country. We learn the art of the armchair quarterback early in life from our loved ones and close acquaintances. So following the Vikings 34-23 loss to the Detroit Lions, we’re all flexing that muscle together right now. And in this particular game, there are likely many fingers to be pointed and plays to be blamed.
The first one you’ll hear mentioned on the airwaves of KFAN’s Minnesota Vikings FAN Line today is surely going to be the decision to go for it on fourth down on the team’s first drive of the game. I’m all for setting the tone and sticking it to your opponents, and usually, the Lions are the victims of such moves more often than not. But these are not the same old Lions, and the timing of the decision coming in the first quarter in your own territory is right to be questioned. Furthermore, the play call was atrocious. A Shotgun run behind your replacement center for no gain is not the kind of play you want to see called in that situation.
Next up, getting a little too cute right before halftime with an attempted jump pass from Dalvin Cook. Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell confirmed after the game that the play call on 1st and 3 from the Lions 3-yardline was going to be a jump pass to backup tight end Johnny Mundt. In fairness, Mundt was open. The play would have worked…had it not been for a makeshift offensive line that couldn’t contain the Lions rush all afternoon. The pressure got through, forced Dalvin to act quickly, the ball was not in a protected position and was stripped, fumbled, and turned over. It should have been tied going into halftime, with the Vikings getting the ball on the other side, but it wasn’t.
Then, finding themselves down by 14 points, the Vikings crack through and make their way into the end zone…but opt to go for the two-point conversion. Now, there’s a lot of logic here to go for two in this position, I’ve even written about it here on this site, but to make this your modus operandi at this point in the season, with the division on the line today, was just a little weird. The try failed and put the Vikings in a bit of a compromised position the rest of the way.
Later, the Vikings fought their way back into this thing, making it a one-possession game at 23-31 with 2:50 left to play. Minnesota had two timeouts in their pocket and the two-minute warning left on their side, but they opted for the onsides kick attempt to give the Lions decent field position. Detroit recovered and started their game-clinching drive at the Vikings 44-yardline.
And finally, the clock management down the stretch could have gone either way, but the decision to pocket the timeouts and let the clock run down below the two-minute warning and then use them. Common Logic would be to use the two timeouts and then the two-minute warning to potentially get the ball back with 1:50 or so left and no timeouts.
But ultimately, none of these situations mattered at all. None of them decided the game in favor of the Lions.
Instead, the Vikings defense was the sole reason they lost this game today and fell to 10-3 on the season.
It was this defense that allowed Jared Goff to look like an All-Pro quarterback today. It was this defense that has allowed more than 400 yards of offense in their last FIVE GAMES this season. It was this defense that couldn’t get off the field on third down allowing the Lions to convert nearly half of their third down attempts, many of which were third and long. One hundred thirty-four yards allowed on the ground, another 330 through the air just isn’t going to cut it, and it needs to get figured out if this team is going to compete down the stretch and have a chance to do anything at all in the playoffs.
Fans are calling for the defensive coordinator to be fired and for the new 3-4 defense to be abolished midseason. Granted, there were injuries today, but the lack of execution and mental lapses plaguing this team is the real problem, and there might not be a fix this season.
Aj Mansour is a member of The Power Trip Morning Show on KFAN and works for iHeartMedia and the Vikings Radio Network. He’s also a senior writer for VikingsTerritory.com. Be sure to follow him on social media for the latest Vikings news and big opinions – @AjKFAN