The Minnesota Vikings were embarrassed in their season opener with the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon. Although the final score looks like the Vikings put up a good fight in the 43-34 loss, this game was controlled by the Packers throughout. Early in the game they put Minnesota in a hole the Vikings couldn’t dig themselves out of.
What was the biggest reason for the Minnesota’s demise? Their reluctance to fully invest in their offense.
Throughout the offseason, the Vikings’ coaching staff haughtily explained how they had the answer with their system led by Kevin Stefanski and Gary Kubiak. With the same system in place, Kirk Cousins would feel more comfortable no matter who was around him and an offense that looked competent in the 2019 season would take the step needed to push them into a deep playoff run.
Unfortunately, it took 60 minutes for that thought process to go straight into the dumpster. An offseason of poor decisions by the Vikings have put them into a mess they can’t get out of.
They continually opted to invest in their defense. The unit had gotten burned in the second half of the year, and with several veterans like Xavier Rhodes, Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph losing a step, they needed to get younger and add some talent.
Unfortunately, adding young talent takes time to develop in the NFL. Without the aid of offseason activities and preseason, several of the Vikings draft picks couldn’t find their footing and didn’t even see the field in the opener against Green Bay. But even as Minnesota approached the season opener, they were still making tweaks like acquiring Yannick Ngakoue.
Even if Mike Zimmer’s ego insisted that he could fix the defense on the fly, it wasn’t going to happen magically in the first game of 2020. Because of this, Minnesota would have been more wise investing in a guard who could actually provide resistance or a receiver that could be a reliable target for Cousins on third down, but both seemed to be absent on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking of which, the Vikings’ offensive struggles spanned further than just their offseason moves. Kubiak’s debut as a play-caller left a lot to be desired as Minnesota ran themselves right into a 19-point deficit at the end of the third quarter.
Although the Vikings couldn’t get the Packers off the field, Minnesota didn’t turn Cousins and the passing game loose until they realized they would need to throw to win. Even when the Vikings were down 22-10 at halftime, the FOX broadcast noted that the Vikings decision to get back into the game was to run the ball more despite being down 12 points.
For the past two years, the Vikings have treated Cousins and the passing game like the freak monster kid in the basement during a slasher flick. It’s almost like if they turn Cousins loose, opposing teams will laugh and point fingers as they try to be a competent football team, but that’s exactly what they need to do to win games.
To expect a bunch of rookies and young players to hold teams to 17 to 24 points, that’s not a realistic outcome for success. If the Vikings get more aggressive on offense, they’ll find a way to pull a game like Sunday out.