Three Takeaways From the Vikings' Blowout Loss to the Colts
Any optimism about the 2020 Vikings that still existed after last week's season-opening loss to the Packers is now gone. Like, completely and utterly out the window.
The Vikings traveled to Indianapolis for their first road game of the year on Sunday and laid an absolute egg, falling 28-11 to the Colts in ugly fashion. They were significantly out-gained and out-possessed for the second straight week. Kirk Cousins had the worst statistical game of his NFL career, throwing three interceptions and holding a passer rating of 0.0 deep into the second half. And on defense, the Vikings continued to look pretty lifeless without Danielle Hunter.
It was almost an incomprehensibly woeful performance from a team that made it to the NFC divisional round last year. This loss drops the Vikings to 0-2 and makes it clear that this team is a lot closer to having a top-10 pick in the 2021 draft than it is to competing for a playoff spot.
Here are three takeaways from a forgettable afternoon for the Vikings.
1. The worst game of Kirk Cousins' career?
Prior to Sunday, Kirk Cousins' lowest passer rating in a single game in which he threw at least 10 passes was 31.1 on New Year's Eve in 2017, his final start with Washington.
Against the Colts? It was 15.9.
Cousins finished 11-for-26 for 113 yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked three times, including a second consecutive game with a sack in the end zone for a safety. Cousins' first interception was a deep ball forced into double coverage, intended for Adam Thielen. His second came on a Hail Mary attempt to close the half. His third of the day was slightly behind Bisi Johnson, bouncing off of his hands and into the arms of a Colts defender.
Cousins was under plenty of pressure, as it appears that the Vikings' offensive line is just as bad as it was last year—if not worse. His receivers also dropped some passes. But the bottom line is that he wasn't good enough. The Vikings are paying Cousins a lot of money to lead them to victories, and he hasn't yet done that this season.
2. Defensive woes continue
The Vikings aren't playing well on either side of the ball right now. Their offense was even worse on Sunday than it was in Week 1. And while the defense didn't give up 500-plus yards again, some of the same struggles were present.
Against Philip Rivers and a Colts offense that scored only 20 points against the Jaguars last week, the Vikings allowed 354 yards and 28 points, though that could have been a lot more if the Colts hadn't settled for four field goals. They surrendered 151 rushing yards, including a 100-yard game for rookie Jonathan Taylor. They gave up 111 receiving yards to backup tight end Mo Alie-Cox, who played basketball in college. And they allowed Rivers to complete 19 of 25 passes and move the ball without much resistance.
Right now, this doesn't look like a Mike Zimmer defense. The interior of the defensive line is a problem, just like we expected it might be after Michael Pierce opted out. Outside of one great play from Yannick Ngakoue, the edge rushers couldn't get much pressure. The young cornerbacks are still struggling.
Given the tough slate of offenses facing the Vikings in the coming weeks, this could get worse before it gets better.
3. Sloppy play reflects poorly on coaching
The Vikings weren't just bad on Sunday, they were sloppy. They committed six penalties, including several on third downs or in otherwise important moments. They missed some tackles for the second straight week. They didn't appear to have a great plan on either side of the ball, nor did they execute that plan well.
Yes, the circumstances of this season are unique, but that reflects poorly on Zimmer, Gary Kubiak and the rest of the Vikings' coaching staff. This team just doesn't look ready to play most of the time.
Unless a lot of things change quickly, the Vikings could be headed for a long season. Zimmer's career-worst record of 7-9 back in 2014 could easily be threatened over the coming months.
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