At 1-4, things are dire for the Minnesota Vikings. One thing that has become painfully obvious over these past few weeks is that the Vikings don’t win unless everything goes right. At this point, they’re an average team, one who is underachieving due to a variety of factors. They played a strong game in Seattle, and yet they still left town with a loss. We’ll dig into some reasons for our Tuesday Reflections.
Dominating Offensive Statistics
If fans only looked at the stats, they’d be forgiven for believing the Vikings won the game easily. Minnesota possessed the ball for about two thirds of the game. Dalvin Cook rushed for 65 yards before leaving with an injury; his backup, Alexander Mattison, rushed for more than 100 yards. Heck, Mike Boone rushed for 19 yards. Chad Graff did a nice job in his piece over at The Athletic of discussing these stats. Graff notes that Seattle didn’t convert a third down, and their final drive featured Russell Wilson going 4/12. That’s right. Wilson only needed four passes (and a big scramble) to move down the field in less than two minutes to get the win.
The Defensive Line’s Performance
On Monday, we noted that the three Seattle TDs were a lot to overcome. The third touchdown of that sequence was by far the worst. Chris Carson had been running well all night. He has great power. Even still, it’s inexcusable for him to bust up the middle for a long touchdown. The DTs need to be stronger in this situation. The fault isn’t only on the d-line, though. When a RB goes for a long TD run, there’s a pretty good chance that we can find fault at all levels of the defense. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to wonder about the defensive line. One wonders how much better this Vikings defense would be with Michael Pierce, Danielle Hunter, and Anthony Barr in the front-seven.
A Kingdom Divided Against Itself
A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. In football, a team can only consistently win if the entire team is moving in the same direction. The Vikings’ 1-4 start may prefigure an internal division that leads to collapse.
Harrison Smith uncharacteristically missed a tackle on the aforementioned touchdown run. Mike Zimmer suggested that, perhaps due to frustration, his players were trying to strip the ball rather than tackle properly. When D.K. Metcalf scored the game-winning TD, the cameras picked up Smith expressing frustration with his corner’s coverage (or, rather, lack thereof). Smith is Minnesota’s best player and one of the key veterans. Furthermore, he is a captain. If Smith and others begin to start fighting with each other, the season will completely fall apart.
The onus now falls on Zimmer to ensure his team is ready to compete this Sunday so they can head into their bye on a positive note. The hope is that a date with the Atlanta Falcons is exactly what the Vikings need.