Four teams have failed to reach 250 yards of offense against the Panthers and Steelers this season.
Carolina held the 49ers and Bills to 217 and 176, respectively. Meanwhile, the Steelers held the Browns and Vikings to exactly 237 apiece.
Whether the Vikings offense stays stuck in the muck with the likes of San Francisco, Buffalo and Cleveland now depends on coach Mike Zimmer’s definition of the word “OK.”
Typically, a coach doesn’t say his quarterback is “OK” moments after he wasn’t OK enough to play in one of 16 games he’s paid $18 million to partake in. Especially when there’s swelling in a knee that’s been surgically rebuilt twice.
Zimmer is a football coach. They share information as willingly as a pair of 2-year-olds in a room with one toy. When pressed, they are more likely to spread misinformation or leave us wondering what “OK” really means.
So words matter little at this point. We will have to wait to see how this unfolds.
When Sam Bradford returns, the Vikings will have an opportunity to soar as they did against the Saints. If Case Keenum has to start again, the situation won’t be as difficult as Sunday’s was, but the Vikings will look more like they did against Pittsburgh than they did against New Orleans.
This league is brutal when your quarterback is 21 years old (Cleveland), an aging journeyman (San Francisco), still raw in Year 7 (Buffalo) or a backup (Vikings).
Two weeks into the 2017 season, it’s obvious that defenses are ahead of offenses. It seems there are too few good quarterbacks and far more pass rushers than pass protectors.
In Cincinnati, the Bengals became the first NFL team since 1939 to open a season with two home games and no touchdowns. They fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese. Watch your back, Marvin.
In San Francisco, the first NFL team that didn’t want Colin Kaepernick is averaging 232.5 yards per game with four field goals and not a single touchdown celebration.
Houston had 266 yards of offense on the road last Thursday. And won.
Detroit had 257 yards of offense on the road on “Monday Night Football.” And won by two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, in the midst of all this offensive misery, Jay Cutler is smiling. Man, it really is a crazy league.
The 34-year-old was all set to start his broadcasting career this summer. But Ryan Tannehill goes down and suddenly Cutler gets handed $10 million to quarterback a team that’s playoff-ready, runs the offense he’s familiar with and the coach he likes most (Adam Gase). Someone yell, “Jackpot!”
“I definitely think Miami can be in the playoff mix,” Hall of Fame coach and current NBC analyst Tony Dungy said. “It’s all going to depend on their quarterback play. They have a running game, an aggressive defense, they got some receivers who can make plays. This is all going to be about Jay Cutler.”
So far, so good. The Dolphins are 1-0 with Cutler eliminating mistakes, throwing a rocket-ball TD to Kenny Stills and taking some of his usual risks on throws to DeVante Parker.
The Dolphins are one of 10 undefeated teams. Eight of them are 2-0, including three-quarters of the AFC West. The Falcons travel to Detroit this week for the only matchup of undefeated teams.
Cutler, for the time being, sits ahead of Tom Brady in the AFC East standings. Sunday, Cutler will visit the Jets, who have yet to amass more than 271 yards of offense in their 0-2 start.
“Jay Cutler has walked into the perfect situation,” said former NFL safety and current NBC analyst Rodney Harrison. “But will he stand up and be a leader, good times and bad? We’ve seen the way he’s acted in the past and the way he’s conducted himself, where his teammates will say he’s selfish, he’s not a leader. You have to be a leader at quarterback if you want to go to the playoffs and go to the Super Bowl.”
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL