Coordinator Kevin Stefanski’s final play call in the Vikings’ 37-30 loss in Seattle on Monday night was a hot topic on social media among former NFL players including quarterback Kurt Warner and safety Matt Bowen, now an ESPN analyst who said he expected a “higher-percentage throw” against the Seahawks’ man coverage.
Cousins locked onto his first read, tight end Irv Smith Jr. in the flat, on a fourth-and-3 attempt with 2 minutes and 31 seconds left. The pass fell incomplete against tight man-to-man coverage. All Cousins could’ve done differently, according to head coach Mike Zimmer, was buy some time in the pocket.
“The only thing he probably could’ve done better was move until somebody got open,” Zimmer said Tuesday. “Got to make those quick decisions. I thought he played well, so I’m really not concerned about that one bit.”
Right. And I think that route concept has a chance when you are expecting zone defense. Clear the CB out of there & go to work on the curl defender underneath. But in man? Gotta have a better plan (and formation) to scheme guys open.
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) December 3, 2019
Zimmer continued to be complementary of Cousins, who has a career-high 111.9 quarterback rating through 12 games.
“He did well,” Zimmer said. “He was under duress a few times but made good plays. He moved in the pocket pretty well. He got the ball out under some tough situations. The one route that got intercepted there at the end, the guy kind of sat on the route.”
Cousins’ NFL-best streak of 202 throws without an interception came to an end when Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers snatched the ball from receiver Stefon Diggs in the fourth quarter.
Occupying Zimmer’s concerns this week are the run defense and return phases on special teams. Fullback C.J. Ham, fielding a shortened kickoff return with 14 seconds left, fumbled to seal the loss.
“We have to get some return game going,” Zimmer said.