The Minnesota Vikings fell to 0-2 this season after a Week 2 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football. Losing to the defending NFC champions is nothing to be ashamed of, but on a night where Philly didn’t play its best, the Vikings have to be kicking themselves about not being able to snatch a win on the road. After the loss, let’s look at the four Vikings most to blame for the L, including Kirk Cousins and even Justin Jefferson.
4. WR Justin Jefferson
With 11 catches for 159 yards, Justin Jefferson is one of the only reasons the Vikings kept it so close with the Eagles in Week 2. However, he also has to take some blame for the loss, and he surely does.
Jefferson made one of the biggest blunders of the game, and it was the moment the entire momentum of the contest flipped on its head, from the Vikings to the Eagles.
With 41 seconds to go in the first half, down 10-7, Jefferson caught a pass and went 30-and-a-half yards to the end zone. The problem was the Vikings were 31 yards away from pay dirt and Jefferson fumbled out of the end zone, causing a touchback turnover to the Eagles.
Jalen Hurts moved the ball down the field in less than a minute, and the teams went to halftime with the Eagles up 13-7 instead of down 14-10. That was a huge turning point, and Jefferson has to take some of the blame for this loss.
3. QB Kirk Cousins
Like Just Jefferson, quarterback Kirk Cousins did some excellent things to keep his team in this game. However, he also had some bad plays that ultimately killed his team.
Cousins finished the Vikings Week 2 affair 31-of-44 for 364 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Despite those great numbers, Cousins took a strip-sack-fumble on the second play of the second half, which led to the Eagles jumping out to an even bigger 20-7 lead.
He also had some bad dump-offs under pressure to his running backs, which put them in tough situations.
Cousins had a thoroughly depleted offensive line, which was the main reason for his struggles at times. Still, if you get the big credit when the team wins, you have to take the blame for a disappointing loss.
2. RB Alexander Mattison
Alexander Mattison had a tough day in Philadelphia. The back was ineffective on the ground, gaining just 28 yards on eight carries, and through the air, with three catches for 11 yards. Plus, he had two fumbles, one that killed a drive the first play after a Vikings interception, and one that was called back due to a defensive penalty.
Mattison just wasn’t good, and he hasn’t been through two games. In the Vikings' two losses, the new starting RB has 19 carries for 62 yards, six catches for 21 yards, and one receiving TD.
Whether this is just a slow start, attributable to the banged-up offensive line, or an issue with Mattison as the primary back, many Vikings fans are automatically jumping to option three there.
The team refused to pay Dalvin Cook and lost him to the New York Jets. Now, the Vikings are finding out it may not be all that easy to create a running game out of thin air without a talented back like Cook. And unfortunately, Mattison is the poster boy for that.
1. DC Brian Flores
When you watched the Vikings-Eagles Week 2 tilt and look at the stats afterward, one thing jumps out more than anything else. The Eagles ran all over the Vikings defense to the tune of 259 yards on the ground.
If you put the lion’s share of the blame on anyone from the Vikings’ sideline, it’s defensive coordinator Brian Flores. From the opening kick to the final whistle, D’Andre Swift and the Eagles backs ran through bulldozer-sized holes in the line, picking up huge chunks of yards on seemingly every run.
While the Vikings may not have the talent up front to stop the best offensive line in the league from doing whatever it wants, Flores had to do better scheming up some ways here and there to stop this rushing attack. His defense got pushed around all night, though, and that is what ultimately did Minnesota in.
Now, Flores and his defensive staff have 10 days to figure out how to better stop the run before Austin Ekeler and the Chargers come to town and try to run all over them in Week 3. If the coaches aren't able to do that, it could send the Vikings to 0-3 on the year and make for a long season in the trenches.