The Vikings “just got to keep working” on quarterback Kirk Cousins’ downfield passing efficiency, coach Mike Zimmer said Monday.
Cousins averaged 6.5 yards per throw in Sunday’s 16-6 loss, his lowest since his last game against Chicago at the end of last season.
“There’s times you just have to pull the trigger and believe you’re going to make the throw,” Zimmer said Monday. “There were some times that he got the ball out really good. The one behind Adam [Thielen], just a little bit behind him, he got that ball out good. There were some other ones.”
Thielen said Monday his frustration comes from knowing the Vikings’ passing game with Cousins can be explosive, evident by Thielen’s NFL record-tying eight consecutive games with 100 receiving yards to open last season.
“We know how good [Cousins] is. We know how good he can be,” Thielen said. “We know how good this O-line can be. We know how good Dalvin Cook is, obviously. We know how good the receivers are. We know how good we can be.”
Thielen, who said after the loss the Vikings “have to be able to hit the deep balls,” wanted to clarify he wasn’t “taking shots” at anyone.
“It was a very broad sense,” Thielen said. “Any team is going to tell you that you can’t be one-dimensional. That’s not a shot at anyone. That’s not taking shots on coaches, players, nobody. That’s just being real and saying you can’t just be a run team. You can’t just be a pass team. You have to do both well.”
Big first step
Rookie receiver Olabisi Johnson more than doubled his career playing time Sunday, seeing 36 snaps as the Vikings’ third wideout. Johnson, the seventh-round pick (247th overall) out of Colorado State, said he expects his role to grow while earning the trust of coaches. He caught all four targets for 35 yards against the Bears with what he estimated to be “10 to 15” friends and relatives watching at Soldier Field.
“It definitely felt good. I’ve been waiting my time and it was an opportunity to step up,” Johnson said. “They trust me to put me out there, and I’m grateful for that. I think I made the most of my opportunities.”
Cook had dominated opponents on outside runs entering Sunday’s loss, but he was unable to bounce any of his 14 carries in Chicago to the edge. Cook was held to 35 rushing yards, most of which came between the tackles.
“Several things,” including linemen getting beat, contributed to that, Zimmer said.
“They just played faster than us,” Cook said, “and played better than us on each level. Whatever play [offensive coordinator Kevin] Stefanski dials up, or whatever they got in the game plan, we got to go out and execute. That’s just part of the game plan.”
A different view
Wide receiver Chad Beebe watched the Vikings’ loss in Chicago from his couch, using a knee scooter to move around after tearing multiple ligaments in his right ankle a week earlier against Oakland. Vikings coaches are hopeful Beebe will return this season. Beebe avoided surgery, and the earliest he can return from injured reserve is Dec. 2.
“You don’t want surgery,” Beebe said, “and I’ve learned from my past, surgery is not fun. That was good news. It definitely made me feel better about the whole situation.”