The Good, Bad and Ugly: Vikings fall to Buccaneers in opener

There weren’t many positives from the Minnesota Vikings season opener, as they fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-17.

The Vikings jumped out to an early three-point lead but struggled to gain any consistency on offense to keep the game moving. That inconsistency quickly reared its ugly head in the second half, where the Vikings offense failed to sustain drives.

While an opening season loss is never an encouraging sign, there was a mixture of good and bad moments for the Vikings.


The Good: Jordan Addison scores

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings placed a lot of expectations on Jordan Addison to fill in for Adam Thielen, and he’s already impressed.

Kevin O’Connell called Addison’s number for the first time in the first half, and Addison impressed, creating separation from the Buccaneers for a 39-yard touchdown.

Addison finished the game with 61 yards on four receptions, marking a solid debut for the highly-touted receiver. They’ll need more of these performances, though, especially if they want to build a passing attack that has additional dimensions.

The Bad: Kirk Cousins struggles

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins struggled throughout the game, especially in diagnosing the plays as they developed.

Defenses get paid too, but Cousins struggled to determine where the additional pressure was coming from, leading to a mixture of sacks and poor pockets.

While the offensive line did Cousins no favor (more on that later), Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles had Cousins in a blender, especially when he sent pressure from other areas.

While the fumble was a great disguised pressure from the Buccaneers, Cousins has to do a better job knowing the Vikings have fewer blockers than people who could blitz.

Overall, it was an ugly performance for Cousins, but the only reason this isn’t listed in the “ugly” category is because there’s a good chance this isn’t indicative of Cousins’ play for the rest of this season.

Still, it needs to be better. This is the regular season, and the games matter now. There are a lot of expectations on this offense being good, and so far, the early returns are, well, not that.

The Ugly: Run game struggles continue

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings focused on improving the run game during the off-season, bringing in blocking tight end Josh Oliver to run more 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends).

However, that focus did nothing to improve the team’s impact in their season opener.

Running back Alexander Mattison was practically invisible on the ground, finishing with 34 yards on 11 attempts. The Vikings chose to make Mattison their starting running back, so this is their own decision, but it needs to be better regardless.

Ty Chandler also didn’t impact the game on the ground, finishing with no yards on his three attempts.

The Vikings want to build a large chunk of their offense based on being able to run the football, so not being able to do that ruins a lot of their playbook.

The Good: Camryn Bynum shines

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Camryn Bynum might have been the Vikings’ best defensive player, which is probably a good sign of things to come.

Bynum made his presence felt from the first defensive snap and found ways to react towards the ball. It wasn’t perfect (there were some plays where Bynum could have made more of an impact), but there were enough positives to forget these negatives.

Bynum finished the game with ten tackles, including five solo tackles. Having a safety lead your team in tackles isn’t a good sign, but that’s not a slight at Bynum.

The Bad: Mike Evans dominates

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans is one of the best wide receivers in football, so this result isn’t much of a surprise.

However, it’s more how it happened.

Evans finished the game with 66 yards on six receptions, including a 28-yard touchdown that tied the game right before halftime.

It’s pointless to blame backup safety Josh Metellus, who got placed in a poor situation against one of the best wide receivers in football. However, it’s safe to admit that these are the kinds of plays that can change the outlook of a game.

Instead of going into halftime up a touchdown, the Vikings entered one of the worst situations: a tied game where the opposition gets the ball to start the second half. The Buccaneers took advantage of this situation, scoring a touchdown on the first drive out of the break.

The Ugly: Vikings offensive line struggles sans Bradbury

AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn

Garrett Bradbury’s day ended early, as he exited the game early in the first half with a back injury.

The injury forced backup lineman Austin Schlottman into the center position and the Vikings into a mismatched offensive line.

As expected, the Vikings struggled with this change. Instead of seeing improvement from the interior offensive line, the Buccaneers’ defensive owned the trenches for four quarters.

Football games are won in the trenches, and the Vikings had no answer for a Buccaneers defensive line that’s one of the best in the league. That’s already frustrating, but it’s even more frustrating when it’s the interior offensive line that struggled to do much of anything.

Other notes

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
  • Despite not signing a contract extension, Justin Jefferson was the source of most of the offense. Jefferson finished with nine receptions for 150 yards and could’ve probably crossed the 200-yard mark if Cousins found him on a few plays.

  • There’s some tape that needs to be watched before this becomes a fully-fledged take, but the Vikings offense needs to mix up their approach more.

The Real Forno Show

[lawrence-related id=82756,82772,82773,82763,82762,82750]

Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire