The Vikings week 1 win is starting to look like a fluke after their week 2 loss to the Eagles 24-7 on Monday night. Minnesota found every way to shoot themselves in the foot whenever an opportunity came their way. Turning the ball over three times the Vikings just couldn’t get out of their own way. It was tough for Viking fans to see Kevin O’Connell and co. struggle in their second game. With that I’m going to give my takeaways from the Vikings loss and show you there is no need to worry.
The Defense Is Not As Big Of A Concern As You Think
The Vikings defense did not look great in the first half allowing 24 points and 347 yards of total offense in the first half. Jalen Hurts looked like an MVP and the Vikings decided to copy the Packers from last week. The second half was a different story with Minnesota shutting down the Eagles offense. The Vikings only allowed 139 yards of total offense and no points, while forcing two turnovers. They also sacked Jalen Hurts three times. Minnesota didn’t allow the Eagles to score any points off of their three turnovers as well.
The Vikings defense gave up 486 yards of total offense (323 passing and 163 rushing). The biggest concern for me is that the Vikings allowed 7.1 yards per play which is ridiculous. Though at the same time impressive, given that the Eagles only scored 24 points. That will need to be fixed because you can’t give up that many yards and expect to keep winning games.
Overall, this is a good sign going ahead for the Vikings. Holding your opponent to 139 yards in the second half, especially when you turned the ball over three times is impressive. Minnesota seems to have figured out how to make second half adjustments on defense, something that could continue to bode well for them if they can keep it up. Lastly, the Vikings now have four turnovers on the year, something that will need to continue to help the offense out.
But The Offense Is
Unfortunately, the offense has some issues. The Vikings only scored seven points and had three turnovers. Minnesota only had 264 yards of total offense (202 passing and 62 rushing) averaging 4.5 yards per play (not bad all things considered). The offensive line was pressured often, struggling to protect Cousins. When under pressure, Kirk made some terrible throws that needed to have been thrown out of bounds and not into the field of play. This is concerning and Cousins should know better than to do this.
Justin Jefferson was a totally different person last night. I don’t know if he got cocky after his big performance week one or what, but he was not the same receiver he was a week ago. The other thing I noticed was the lack of pre snap movement. In week one I noticed it a lot and it seemed to throw the Packers defense off. I don’t know if O’Connell didn’t do it because of the road and crowd noise or what, but that was concerning for me. Why would you change up your offense like that, I get the crowd can be loud, but you can still do that, just get creative.
The Bright Side
The Vikings were able to drive and move the ball. They had three good drives taking them into the redzone, scoring or almost scoring. They averaged 4.5 yards per play which is something to watch if they can consistently do. Cousins did make some good throws, threading the needle to Thielen on a couple of passes. He was also accurate on a deep shot to Irv Smith Jr who dropped a would-be touchdown.
Also, for as bad as the offensive line looked, they only allowed two sacks. The biggest thing is that a lot of these problems are fixable. There isn’t a problem that they shouldn’t be able to solve at practice. Given that it’s a new system and staff, it’s not surprising to see growing pains early on. Hopefully there aren’t too many more.
Way Too Many Turnovers
Turnovers are bad. It’s even worse when you throw three picks in your opponent’s territory. That’s exactly what happened to the Vikings on Monday night. Kirk Cousins threw three picks, all ending drives that were inside the Eagles 30-yard line. Now I’m going to break down each interception showing what went wrong and who was to blame.
Darius Slay’s First Interception
This interception was not Cousins’ fault but Justin Jefferson. What Jefferson did wrong here is that he allowed Slay to be behind him on his route, allowing him to read where Jefferson was going. Slay then jumped the route and Jefferson could do nothing about it, ending the drive with a turnover in the endzone.
Darius Slay INTERCEPTION at the goal line! @bigplay24slay
— NFL (@NFL) September 20, 2022
Avonte Maddox Interception
This was just a pass that should never have been thrown. Cousins only looked to his left on the play before throwing a semi-low pass intended for Adam Thielen. Avonte Maddox jumps and picks it, for Kirk’s second turnover inside the 30. I will give credit to Maddox as that was a good defensive play, but he should never have had the opportunity to intercept the ball to begin with. Even if Maddox didn’t get the ball, Darius Slay was there and by the looks of it, would have broken up the pass if not getting him another interception. It was a well defended play and Kirk should have looked to throw it elsewhere.
Avonte Maddox with the Eagles second interception off Kirk Cousins tonight
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) September 20, 2022
Darius Slay’s Second Interception
This is all on Cousins. When you throw a pass on a corner route in the back corner of the end zone you ALWAYS high point so that the receiver is the only one who can get it. You don’t throw it low unless the receiver is WIDE OPEN, which Jefferson wasn’t. Unfortunately for Kirk he didn’t do that and Slay got his second pick of the night.
.@bigplay24slay with his 2nd interception 🗣
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) September 20, 2022
This was the killer for the Vikings, if they didn’t throw these three picks, all inside the 30, they would have had at least nine points if not more. So, if they don’t throw three picks the score can easily be 16-24. A much closer game than what it seemed.
Dropped Balls, Missed Opportunites, And Just A General Frustration
Well, we all know where I’m going with this. Late in the second quarter, Cousins threw a great pass that hit Irv Smith Jr. in the hands. Unfortunately, when he went to bring it in he couldn’t hold on and dropped a would-be touchdown that would have brought Minnesota within seven close to halftime. Smith wasn’t the only one with the case of the drops last night. Tight end Johnny Mundt dropped a would-be ten-to-20-yard gain, and Dalvin Cook had quite a few himself.
Minnesota also failed to capitalize on some great opportunities. Late in the third quarter Patrick Peterson blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt by Jake Elliott and Kris Boyd returned for 27-yards to the Eagles 30.
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) September 20, 2022
Unfortunately, three plays later Cousins threw his second pick of the night to Avonte Maddox. Another opportunity the Vikings had was when former Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks picked off a tipped pass and returned to the Eagles nine-yard line. Again, the Vikings turned the ball over for the third time. This was just the Vikings luck on Monday night. Dropped passes, not taking advantage of turnovers, turning the ball over, it was just frustrating. Minnesota basically dropped or turned over 16-to-28 points last night. The game really should have been around 23-24 had they not turned the ball over, which is really frustrating, because it shows how close this game should have really been.
Going into the season this was one of the games I picked for the Vikings to lose (although I didn’t think they would lose as badly as they did). Thankfully, it is only week two and the Vikings are 1-1 with a win over the division rival Packers. Next week they have a chance to be 2-0 in the division. Also, a road loss to the Eagles who are looking like the best team in the NFC isn’t that bad either. It was a tough road environment, and their home opener. Jalen Hurts was on point, who is now looking like he’ll be in the running for MVP. The Vikings special teams look great, the defense will be fine, and the offense should rebound. There are still 15 games left in the season, we just need to take it one game at a time.
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