Monday Impressions: Inept, Ineffective, Uninspired

The title says it all. Yesterday’s game was ugly. I hope you at least had some great snacks to make your viewing experience somewhat worthwhile.

I won’t dwell on things too much up here. Instead, let’s get into the impressions.

The Offense

1) Lil’Kub just couldn’t respond. Here is what I wrote before the game: “The ball is getting out very, very quickly, so the line doesn’t need to hold up for long. What happens, though, if Cleveland finds a way to neutralize the short/intermediate areas of the field? We may be in some trouble.” The Browns’ DC deserves a ton of credit for finding a way to neutralize what Minnesota’s offense does well. We’ll need to quickly pivot so we can win against the Lions.
2) I’ve been wondering if Dalvin Cook was fully healthy. There were moments when has was his usual explosive self, but he was largely ineffective. Alexander Mattison was also ineffective, so perhaps it was merely the OL’s fault.
3) Speaking of which, it was a brutal game for the OL. Here is how PFF put it: “Minnesota’s offensive line failed to open up significant running lanes but performed adequately in pass protection. In the run game, the unit allowed almost instant penetration from the Cleveland defensive line. Minnesota rushers averaged just 1.1 yards before contact. The group was only slightly better in pass protection, allowing just two sacks in the loss. That had more to do with Cousins’ ability to get the ball out quickly, though, as the Vikings allowed 30 total pressures and seven quarterback hits.” Kirk Cousins wasn’t great, though his big fellas didn’t do much to help him.
4) Jefferson followed up his tremendous Week 3 performance with yet another strong game. He was easily our best offensive player. 6 catches, 84 yards, and 1 TD.
5) Adam Thielen needs to be used more. He only had 3 catches for 46 yards. His numbers haven’t been bad, but they could be far better. I expect Minnesota will make more of an effort to feature him as the season progresses.

The Defense

1) After another Breeland coverage bust, Cameron Dantzler got his shot. The end result was a rock-solid performance. Our secondary looked considerably better yesterday. A lot of that was due to Baker Mayfield being awful; a lot of that was due to Dantzler being pretty good.
2) Dalvin Tomlinson had a nice game. His sack on Mayfield was impressive, and he has had better all-around games these past two weeks. He will be even more important if Pierce’s injury keeps him out for a little while.
3) We really need Anthony Barr back. Nick Vigil has been good, but he doesn’t offer nearly as much as Barr. His size, physicality, intelligence, and athleticism will make it all come together for that front seven.
4) We knew heading into the game that Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb were the focal point for Cleveland’s offense. Unfortunately, both had good games. Perhaps the most inexcusable play was Hunt’s huge run on that critical 3rd & 20. The defense played well overall, but that was an awful play.
5) Against Detroit, it will be crucial to ensure Jared Goff is the one who has to win the game. Completely shut down the run game and short passes. Do to Detroit what Cleveland did to us. If we can, it ought to be an easy win.

The Special Teams

1) Jordan Berry continues to show why he was signed. It was a game full of punting. Berry had a 48.5 yard average over 6 punts. I like him. You should, too.
2) Troy Dye is a terror for the opposition. His length and speed create big problems for the other team. I love seeing him charging down the field in coverage.

Oh, and we also had a Darrisaw sighting: