The coach was angry. The quarterback sounded ticked too, and also surprised and/or annoyed by his coach’s comment. Their answers appeared to be subtle jabs.
The end of Sunday’s 31-30 loss to Tennessee was egregious by any football standard, which led to some interesting reactions from the Vikings afterward in postgame zoom interviews.
Zimmer described his offense’s final possession as a “complete disaster” and “chaos” while noting that he expects more from a veteran unit, a point he’s made previously.
Asked about that “chaos” comment, quarterback Kirk Cousins responded, “You’d have to ask Coach specifically what he meant.”
A few minutes later, Cousins answered a different question about the offense’s improvement by offering this nugget: “Anytime you have almost 500 yards of offense and score 30 points, you’re doing something correct.”
Maybe this was nothing more than two frustrated competitors venting after a bad loss. Maybe there’s more to it.
Zimmer amended his thoughts after a night’s sleep.
“I think it was more of a disaster than chaos,” he said Monday. “Guys knew what they were doing.”
The Vikings are clearly exasperated by their 0-3 start. Zimmer is. Cousins is. Everyone should be. This is unfamiliar ground for them, the organization’s first 0-3 start under Zimmer and first since 2013.
In fairness, Zimmer wasn’t only critical of his offense. He also scolded his defense after giving up several big plays in the second half in blowing a double-digit lead.
“I thought there were times when we played really well on defense,” he said. “But the big plays, you can’t do that. You just can’t do that.”
Zimmer then pointed criticism directly at his two safeties, Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris, for mistakes they made. Maybe it’s happened before, but I can’t remember Zimmer ever offering public criticism of Smith, a long-time favorite of his, which just shows his frustration level.
Playing the blame game serves no real purpose, especially in a situation where everybody deserves a share of it. That list includes:
The coaching staff
Everyone on offense
Everyone on defense
Everyone on special teams
There, that should just about cover it.
“The thing I have to figure out right now is how to [get] this team to understand what’s causing them to lose,” Zimmer said.
Bingo. He’s the coach. Whatever happens during 60 minutes of action ultimately rests on his shoulders. It’s his responsibility. His and Spielman’s.
They picked the roster. They developed this plan to rebuild, or “retool on the fly” if that’s how they prefer to sell it. They gave Cousins a massive first contract followed by a massive extension. And the offensive line … we’ve written about that situation endlessly.
It’s wrong and unfair to pin an 0-3 start on one particular unit or one particular person. There’s plenty of blame to go around.