As high as the Minnesota Vikings felt after dismantling the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, things felt pretty low following the team’s 24-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday.
Many wonder if new head coach Kevin O’Connell forgot his playbook back in Minnesota during the primetime game. But even though the Vikings receivers, most notably Justin Jefferson, weren’t open by 15 yards as consistently this week, there were plays to be made on offense.
With some more patience in some pretty clean pockets, quarterback Kirk Cousins could have made the Eagles pay early on. These plays could have changed the game’s momentum, as the Vikings offense sputtered most of the first half.
Down 7-0 on 2nd-and-7, Kirk bypasses Jefferson on the over route and checks down to tight end Irv Smith, Jr. for a two-yard gain.
Facing 3rd-and-5 on the next play, Kirk once again turns down an open receiver. This time, Adam Thielen flashes open over the middle on a dig route and has green grass ahead of him. But with a clean pocket, Kirk checks down to Smith again, and the pass falls incomplete.
Finally, the Vikings are down 14-7 here with almost six minutes left in the first half. Facing 2nd-and-3, the Vikings line up in a 2×2 formation in shotgun, ready for an RPO with Jefferson running the bubble screen. The Eagles give up lots of cushion, but Kirk opts to hand the ball off to Dalvin Cook, who only gains one yard. One play later, Kirk tries finding Smith, but the pass falls incomplete, and the Vikings have to punt. Philadelphia would score on the next drive, giving them a 21-7 lead.
This isn’t meant to place all of the blame on Kirk. The defense still gave up 347 yards and 24 points in the first half. But the offense did them no favors with four three-and-outs before halftime, helping dig a lead that proved insurmountable.
But with three interceptions thrown, it was believed that Kirk had nowhere to go with the football. He had opportunities but, for whatever reason, bypassed them despite having clean pockets and advantageous looks in the secondary. Hopefully, this Week 2 dud leads to future success for the Vikings offense.