Monday Impressions: Sunday’s Game Was a Fumbling, Bumbling Mess

Well, that went poorly. I, like most Vikings fans and writers, predicted a purple win. Instead, we got a purple mess. Our Vikings were penalized 12 times, leading to minus 116 yards. These are remarkable numbers, and not in a good way. Our Minnesota Vikings lost to the Bengals, a reality that may end up haunting us in the end.

Let’s hop into the Monday impressions.

The Offense

1) Kirk Cousins’ statistics were impressive at the end (36/49, 351 yards, 2 TDs), but it was largely the result of two things: volume and YAC. He threw the ball a ton and his receivers did a nice job after the catch. To begin the game he was skittish in the pocket, held the ball for a touch too long at times, and several passes were behind his receiver. He deserves credit for his 4Q drive to get us into OT. He also deserves credit for putting our offense into a position to succeed in OT. Unfortunately, the questionable Cook fumble undermined our chance to win.
2) Speaking of which, that fumble was tough to accept. To my mind, Cook was down; his backside was touching the grass when the ball was still in his arm. Alas, I’m biased, so what do I know? The Vikings should have done a better job throughout the game. If our Minnesota Vikings had just taken care of business, we wouldn’t have given the refs the chance to help hand us a loss against the hapless Bengals.
3) Our offensive line was a disaster. When does Garrett Bradbury officially become a bust? Many would already say he is, but I’m trying to be balanced. A Vikings.com article points out that 70 of our 116 penalty yards were the result of the o-line.
4) One positive for the offensive side was K.J. Osborn. He was confident and he moved well, resulting in 7 catches for 76 yards. Keep in mind that he had zero impact on the offense last season. He showed great poise with the ball in his hands. Our first TD doesn’t happen unless he breaks a tackle so he can scamper for a 25-yard gain on a 3rd and 24. The Thielen-Jefferson-Osborn trio may end up being really, really good.
5) Adam Thielen was easily our best offensive player. 9 catches, 92 yards, 2 TDs. Folks, he’s still our WR1.

The Defense

1) First, a positive. The Michael Pierce hype looks to be well-deserved. He demonstrated both power and quickness as a pass rusher. What a difference in comparison to last year’s DTs.
2) I thought Eric Kendricks was just average. Perhaps it’s because my expectations are so high. I’d argue that he’s among the most underrated players in the NFL. I think he’s a true difference-maker from the LB position, which is even more impressive given that he isn’t really used as a pass rusher. He’s going to need to elevate against Arizona. Don’t be surprised if Zim uses him to spy Kyler.
3) Bashaud Breeland was brutal yesterday. On the long Chase TD, Breeland had his eyes in the backfield for far too long. I like Breeland’s physicality and his willingness to come up aggressively in run support. That being said, he needs to do much, much better. I highlighted the secondary before the game because of Cincinnati’s talent at WR. Well, they didn’t even really test Patrick Peterson. Instead, they just kept going back to Breeland’s side. Credit the Bengals for finding a weakness and exploiting it.
4) It was great to see Danielle Hunter out there. He had the sack, a positive sign. Otherwise, perhaps the most notable part of his game was that he was used in unique ways. He was in a two-point stance far more, and sometimes he lined up alongside another DE on the same side of the line. This is something that’s worth monitoring as the season progresses.
5) Anthony Barr’s absence was felt on Sunday. His unique size/speed/intelligence combination helps bring the defense together. Nick Vigil did nice, but he ought to be our LB3.

Special Teams

1) Show of hands: how many of you could foresee Greg Joseph nailing that 53 yarder? I’ll admit I was nervous, especially after the Bengals called the timeout. His kick (and 3 XPs) was a bright spot from yesterday’s game. Might things actually work out alright at kicker?
2) I wasn’t sure about the decision to move on from Britton Colquitt. One game into Jordan Berry’s time with the Vikings and I’m feeling a lot better. He was fantastic yesterday. He had a 50.3 yard average through 8 punts.