3 Vikings takeaways from stunning Week 2 loss to Cardinals
Minnesota Vikings fans have seen this movie far too many times before and it reared its ugly head again on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
Down 34-33 with a 37-yard field goal separating the Vikings from going to 1-1 or 0-2, kicker Greg Joseph pushed it wide to the right and Minnesota lost in stunning fashion.
Here are three Vikings takeaways from their wild Week 2 game against the Cardinals.
Feeding Dalvin Cook early leads to good things
Dalvin Cook saw 7 touches in the first quarter alone against the Cardinals and he turned those looks into 67 yards. In a league that has gone super pass happy, the Vikings are one of the rare teams that still seem to get a bigger boost when their run game is in motion early on.
This isn’t a knock on Kirk Cousins, it’s more a product of how great Cook is. Against the Bengals, Cook sputtered early and the Vikings’ offense was off its beat early on. That wasn’t the case against the Cardinals.
It’s true that the 64-yard bomb from Cousins to K.J. Osborn on the opening drive also contributed in a major way but Cook was so consistent from start to finish which has been a huge recipe for success for the Vikings in the past.
They ultimately came up short but it was no fault of the offense as they racked up 33 points, 419 total yards and didn’t turn the ball over.
The kicker woes are unfathomable at this point
It’s unbelievable how bad the Vikings have been in the kicking department in the Mike Zimmer era. It defies logic and truly makes no sense whatsoever.
The Blair Walsh missed kick against the Seattle Seahawks will never be forgotten, nor will Dan Bailey’s performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 when he missed three field goals and an extra point. Now Greg Joseph has joined that list as well.
Kickers miss kicks, it’s part of the gig. And from time-to-time, they will miss chip shots or extra points. For the Vikings, the problem is that they seem to happen to them at the most inopportune times.
Jospeh lined up a 37-yard attempt on the final play of the game for the Vikings with a chance to get them to 1-1. Everyone knows what happened after that.
What’s tricky about this ongoing dilemma is finding out who gets the finger of blame pointed at them. Zimmer was super conservative at the end and the Vikings could’ve tried moving the ball closer at the end but are we really going to hammer the head coach for that when the kick was from 37 yards? If it were 47 yards it would be more defensible to blame Zimmer. The reality is it was a chip shot for Joseph and he pushed it. A lot of the blame can be put on the shoulders of the kicker but it doesn’t necessarily solve or help Minnesota figure out this riddle.
Bringing in a new kicker now would seem more counterproductive than anything. Joseph has been fine for the Vikings outside of that miss and quickly putting into motion the kicker carousel again could be a lapse in judgment for Minnesota. There aren’t any signs or indicators that they are considering this but with this being a constant issue for Minnesota, one would assume that all options are on the table.
The secondary hasn’t looked much different from last year
Minnesota made waves when they signed Patrick Peterson this offseason and dished out a heavy extension to their all-pro safety in Harrison Smith. So far, the secondary hasn’t looked much different than their pitiful displays of 2020.
Last season, the Vikings ranked 24th in pass defense and were constantly getting carved up. Through two games this year, in an admitted small sample size, they rank 25th.
Kyler Murray has been brilliant for the Cardinals but the bigger issues for the Vikings on Sunday were the plays were there were wide receivers who had nobody within 10 yards of them.
Murray is really good outside of the pocket and extending plays but there were a couple of occasions where rookie wideout Rondale Moore had nobody even close to him and it happened at least one more time outside of the big plays to Moore.
The reality at the moment is that Zimmer’s secondary hasn’t looked all that much better so far this year compared to last. Knowing that Zimmer is way more of a defensive minded head coach and this is happening makes it a bit more concerning.
It doesn’t get any easier for Minnesota with their next two games coming against the Seahawks and Cleveland Browns. It’s not panic time yet for the Vikings’ secondary but they’ll need to flip the switch real soon to ease the minds of many.
The good thing for the Vikings is that the NFC North might end up being wide open for the taking. Starting 0-2 is not the route they wanted to go but if they can figure things out over the next three to four weeks, they could find themselves right back in the mix. Figuring out the secondary should be a top priority during that time frame.