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The Minnesota Vikings made the NFC championship game last season with a great defense. But they also had some offense.
When the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins in the offseason, it was the right move. If you’ve seen Case Keenum play for the Denver Broncos, it’s hard to argue. But it’s not like the Vikings have gotten the results they were looking for when they handed Cousins $84 million.
Cousins had another quiet game on Monday night in a big moment for the Vikings. The Vikings didn’t pass midfield against the Seattle Seahawks until the third quarter as Cousins was content to check down almost the entire game. They didn’t score until a garbage touchdown with 1:09 to go in an ugly 21-7 loss.
At 6-6-1, the Vikings are one of the most disappointing teams in the league. They haven’t defeated one team with a winning record all season. The loss to the Seahawks, who improved to 8-5 and are in great position to get a wild-card spot, puts the Vikings in danger of missing the playoffs. It’s not like the Vikings would do much damage in the playoffs anyway.
Quarterbacks get too much credit or blame for wins and losses. But as the Vikings were almost shut out on Monday, it’s fine to blame Cousins. He needed to be better, and he came up small again.
Minnesota’s offense was terrible
Cousins hasn’t been bad all season. But when the Vikings have needed him most, he hasn’t done much. The Vikings didn’t pay him all that money to beat the Cardinals and Jets. In back-to-back games against the Patriots and Seahawks, the Vikings offense did virtually nothing. They had 17 points combined. The play-calling hasn’t helped much.
Trailing 6-0 in the fourth quarter the Vikings got the ball to the 4-yard line, then had a terrible sequence. They ran up the middle for 2 yards, a conservative call. Then Kirk Cousins threw incomplete. Third down brought another run up the middle for nothing. And on fourth down the Vikings went for it, which was a justifiable call. But the play call wasn’t very creative, nobody was open, and Cousins forced a pass to Kyle Rudolph that was easily batted down.
That came after a fourth-and-1 call in which the Vikings lined up in an extreme tight formation, asking the Seahawks defense to cram the line of scrimmage, and a run to Latavius Murray up the middle was stuffed easily. Long before that, the Vikings had nothing going on offense other than 2- and 3-yard passes. Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, a hot name last offseason, did not have a good night.
Still, the quarterback needs to execute whatever plays are called. Cousins didn’t.
Seahawks offense did enough to win
The Seahawks did almost nothing on offense either. Russell Wilson threw a bad interception at the end of the first half. But when Chris Carson scored on a 5-yard touchdown run with 2:53 left and Tyler Lockett got a two-point conversion, it gave the Seahawks a 14-0 lead. With the way the Vikings offense was playing, that was more than enough. Seattle forced Cousins to fumble and returned it for a touchdown, just for good measure.
The Seahawks have overachieved. From top to bottom, the Vikings probably have more talent than Seattle. But the Seahawks are the superior team. That was never in doubt on Monday.
Minnesota came into the season hoping to build off their 13-3 finish and conference championship game appearance. Instead, they’re .500 with three games to go and haven’t been anything but mediocre all season. If the Vikings don’t even make the playoffs, it’ll be a long offseason for Cousins. He’s not going anywhere. All $84 million on his contract is guaranteed.
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