The Minnesota Vikings should have one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL. For the vast majority of the season, that has been the case. Largely it’s been why they’ve been able to overcome a terrible defense. When the Green Bay Packers were backed up against their end zone early on Sunday, Minnesota’s coach let them off easy.
Minnesota’s game did not start well, and after a three-and-out to open the contest, the Vikings found themselves in a position needing a stop. Much like the Week 1 contest against the Green Bay Packers, momentum could be expected to carry a significant number of opportunities on the day.
What Was Kevin O’Connell Doing Early against Packers?
With the defense having done its job, holding Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur’s offense to just seven yards on the opening possession, it was Josh Metellus stepping up on special teams. He burst through the middle for the second straight week and got his hands on a punt. The ball bounced around and was ultimately ruled down on the one-yard line.
Facing first and goal from breathing distance, O’Connell dialed up an odd flat route to Adam Thielen that was covered, and Kirk Cousins was never going to see him convert on. Dalvin Cook slammed behind a backup center for no gain on the second play, and Austin Schlottmann was carted into the locker room following an injury.
Despite being on his third center, Chris Reed, a player who’s never taken a snap at the position in the NFL, O’Connell did the unthinkable. Cook again went right up the middle and was easily stuffed. Given a golden opportunity to get early points, Minnesota’s head coach did less with more and put his team behind the momentum building early.
Of course, things got worse as the Packers took the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown putting them in the lead. After trading a pair of possessions, Cousins was picked off by Darnell Savage, and it was returned 75 yards for a touchdown. While Green Bay had yet to accumulate a positive passing yard, having negative one on the day, they owned a 14-3 lead.
O’Connell has undoubtedly been a more progressive offensive head coach than we saw with Mike Zimmer a year ago. His leadership is why Justin Jefferson is leading the league in receiving yards, and it’s why he entered on pace to break all-time records. Too often, the playcalling causes head-scratching results, however, and failing to make the right moves early cost his team again today.
Knowing the Vikings can quickly get behind gameflow, given their defensive inefficiencies, there’s little room for error on the offensive side of the ball. When provided opportunities to come away with touchdowns, that has to be the outcome, and alternatives can’t be self-inflicted.
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.