A day after Kirk Cousins played one of his lowest-rated games as an NFL quarterback, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Cousins “can do better.”
Zimmer did elaborate on his coaching points to correct Cousins’ decision-making, which led to three turnovers in Sunday’s 21-16 loss at Green Bay.
“Play within himself,” Zimmer said of the eighth-year pro. “As far as, if the play’s not there, throw the ball away. He knows that. It’s not anything different. Like every position, we’re coaching the heck out of him.”
The Vikings’ comeback, in which the offense scored 16 unanswered points, fell short against the Packers while Cousins completed 43.8% of his passes — the second-worst mark of his NFL career, better than only his fourth NFL start in 2013 when he was with Washington.
Cousins and his receivers were not always on the same page against the Packers, according to Zimmer. In the critical red-zone area, Cousins threw three passes for two incompletions and an interception.
“There were some really good things in the passing game — the deep ball to [Stefon] Diggs,” Zimmer said. “He made some really good throws and then he missed some. Sometimes that’s going to happen. We’ll continue to work on it and make sure the receivers, quarterback and everybody else is on the same page. There was some miscommunication there [Sunday].”
Aside from disconnect with Cousins, Vikings receivers Adam Thielen and Diggs were each flagged twice — once apiece for offensive pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct — adding to Zimmer’s frustration.
“There are so many things we have to fix — fast,” Thielen said. “You look at yourself first, and I could’ve done better the entire game.”
The Vikings are among the NFL’s most penalized teams after two weeks, with 19 penalties for 200 yards, leaving Zimmer “very” disappointed at the onset of the season.
Typically a disciplined franchise, the Vikings did not rank worse than 14th in fewest penalties during Zimmer’s first five seasons as head coach. Minnesota’s 92 penalties last season tied for the second fewest in the league. They’re on pace for 152 this season.
“Undisciplined,” Zimmer said. “[Garrett] Bradbury had two, Diggs had two, Thielen had two. We got to start playing within the rules. They know the rules. That’s their responsibility to do what they’re supposed to do.”
‘No alarms going off’
Kicker Dan Bailey is not panicking after missing a 47-yard field goal wide left in Green Bay, marking the Vikings’ fourth straight missed field goal at Lambeau Field dating back to last season. Bailey rebounded with a 31-yard field goal, but had an extra-point attempt blocked.
“Just came out a little left and it just stayed out there,” Bailey said. “I wish I could have it back, but that’s the nature of this deal. It felt like I put a good hit on it, so there are no alarms going off on this end.”
In two games, Bailey has made five of six extra points and one of two field goals.
Too deep a hole
The Vikings defense pitched a shutout for nearly three quarters in Green Bay after giving up 21 early points, including Packers touchdown drives of 68 and 75 yards. But safety Harrison Smith said he finds no solace in how the defense kept the Vikings in the game.
“At the end of the day, we lost,” Smith said. “We have to start faster to have a better chance. That’s all that matters. We already know we’re going to fight and play hard. We just have to keep them out of the end zone.”
The Vikings re-signed cornerback Mark Fields to the practice squad on Monday. Fields, 22, is the son of former Saints linebacker Mark Fields. The Vikings originally acquired Fields in a trade with the Chiefs on Aug. 31. He was waived from the 53-man roster to make room for linebacker Devante Downs.