The Minnesota Vikings escaped another late-game collapse for the second consecutive week, walking off the Carolina Panthers in overtime with a 34-28 victory in Week 6.
After Kirk Cousins led yet another potential game-winning drive that was foiled by (yet another) Greg Joseph missed field goal at the buzzer, lady luck was on Minnesota’s side when the Vikings won the overtime coin toss. Cousins took the ball and marched the Vikings 75 yards, culminating in a 27-yard hookup with K.J. Osborn to end the game. Cousins completed 5-of-6 passes for 50 yards on the drive — including a 13-yard completion to Osborne to keep the drive alive on a critical 3rd and 3.
Eerily similar to last week’s dance with the winless Detroit Lions, the Vikings’ defense allowed Carolina to score on back-to-back possessions over the final seven minutes of play — including a 96-yard touchdown drive and two-point conversion to tie the game at 28 with 46 seconds remaining. Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady dialed up a masterful shovel pass to tight end Tommy Tremble to put the finishing touches on Carolina’s double-digit fourth-quarter comeback.
For much of the game, Minnesota’s defense was the beneficiary of sloppy play from Sam Darnold and wide receivers Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore. Darnold threw an egregious interception on the first play of the game after he tried to do too much when the initial reads weren’t there.
Carolina’s receivers weren’t much help either, having recorded one of the worst collective performances that the NFL has seen over the past decade.
Despite Carolina’s recent struggles with Darnold after starting 3-0, Brady remains one of the most sought-after head coaching candidates in the NFL. He was largely responsible for bringing LSU’s chronically archaic offense to the 21st century in 2019, winning the national championship, and setting multiple NCAA offensive records along the way. It didn’t take the league long to take a hard look at Brady as a viable head coach after his first season as an NFL offensive coordinator last year.
Even though Brady was passed over in the most recent head coaching cycle, the age-old adage good things come to those who wait might ring true for the 32-year old offensive mastermind.
While the past two weeks have brought the Vikings to .500 going into the bye week, Mike Zimmer and the current regime aren’t out of the woods yet. Minnesota faces a murderous row of opponents after their week off:
- vs. Dallas Cowboys (5-1)
- @ Baltimore Ravens (5-1)
- @ Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)
- vs. Green Bay Packers (5-1)
For those of you keeping score at home, the Vikings’ next four opponents have a combined record of 19-5. It should go without saying at this point, but Zimmer is still in a tenuous situation as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. And if/when the Vikings stumble against the NFL’s elite, the clamoring for a coaching change will only get louder.
Considering Brady’s run through last season’s coaching cycle, it’s likely that the Carolina OC will have the luxury of choosing his preferred destination. And allow me to be perfectly clear: you won’t find a more appealing franchise for an offensive-minded head coach than the Minnesota Vikings should they decide to part ways with Zimmer.
Whether stubborn Skoldiers want to admit it or not, Cousins continues to operate as one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL over the past 13 months with Justin Jefferson in the starting lineup.
While I can’t speak for Brady, I like to think that he’d be more than happy to sign up for this level of production out of his starting quarterback. As the saying goes, “It’s not the X’s and O’s, but the Jimmy and Joes.” Going from Teddy Bridgewater and Darnold to Cousins wouldn’t restrict Brady from unleashing the type of offense that has already piqued the interest of the NFL teams that interviewed him in January.
Let’s not forget about what Brady could do with one of the league’s best running backs in Dalvin Cook. Unfortunately for Brady and Carolina, Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has missed 16 of 22 games since Brady and head coach Matt Rhule took over last season. Out of the potential job openings at season’s end, Brady would be hard-pressed to find a more dynamic playmaker out of the backfield than Minnesota’s current running back.
And last but certainly not least, Brady would be foaming at the mouth to reunite with Jefferson. Brady was Jefferson’s position coach at LSU in 2019 and Jefferson led all of college football in receptions in their lone season together.
It’s important to note that Jefferson continues to heap praise on Brady, with the Minnesota wide receiver crediting Brady’s system for allowing him to flourish as a rookie last season.
Is Las Vegas more appealing than Minnesota? Does a bear s**t in the woods? But when it comes to potential landing spots for offensive head coaches, the Vikings are in a class of their own.
This upcoming stretch for the Vikings is the ultimate win-win: If they surprise and reel off some big wins against the NFL’s heavyweights, they’re that much closer to making a realistic run at a potential wild card berth. And if they continue to flirt with disaster and find themselves near the bottom of the NFC in December, they’re that much closer to hiring the next head coach that can take this organization — and this offense — to the next level.
All they have to do is offer the job to the right guy: Joe Brady.
And cross their fingers that a Florida boy like Brady doesn’t mind spending his winters in Minneapolis.