There are few players who work harder at their game than Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, but even the greatest quarterbacks have bad games.
Cousins certainly had one Sunday when he posted a career-worst passer rating of 15.9, completing 11 of 26 passes for 113 yards with three interceptions in a 28-11 loss to the Colts.
The fact is, Cousins is a great quarterback. He is the second-most accurate passer in the history of the NFL and the only quarterbacks to post a better career passer rating than him are Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Dak Prescott and Tom Brady.
If anyone thinks Cousins is the biggest problem on this team, they don’t know football.
Spend enough time around the NFL and you’ll learn that quarterbacks get more credit than they deserve and way more blame.
This offense is having some real issues, but when you trade Stefon Diggs — who had averaged 73 catches and 924.6 receiving yards per season with the Purple — and then try to build the offense without the benefit of a preseason, this kind of start to the season isn’t a surprise.
Yes Diggs’ absence isn’t the only reason for the poor offense this season, but it’s clearly part of the problem. The offense had a great year in 2019 but they just do not look as dynamic with only one proven threat at receiver in Adam Thielen. He has half of the wide receivers’ 18 receptions this year.
Just like last week, the Vikings couldn’t win the possession battle despite having an opening drive of 13 plays and 75 yards that lasted 5:59.
They had the ball for just 15:36 the rest of the game, finishing with a 21:35 time of possession compared to 38:25 for the Colts.
The Vikings also managed just 12 first downs compared to the Colts’ 24 and had only 175 total yards against 354 for Indianapolis.
And while there’s no doubt the defense struggled in Week 1, this loss was on the offense, as the secondary looked improved against a squad with a good passing game behind quarterback Philip Rivers, who finished with just 214 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The coaching staff will need to figure out some answers quick, because they are getting ready to face the unbeaten Titans coming to U.S. Bank Stadium next week and then have road contests at Houston and Seattle.
It’s hard to think of any record that’s more puzzling than the Vikings being 0-12 all-time against the Colts on the road — going back to their days in Baltimore — and only a few of those games were competitive.
In those 12 games on the road against the Colts, the Vikings have been outscored 323-179.
And even when you include games in Minnesota the Vikings are just 7-18-1 against the Colts all-time.
But the loss that Mike Zimmer’s squad took Sunday in their first road game of the season was one of the worst. Especially coming off their loss to Green Bay at home last week where they looked overmatched.
Maybe some experts expected this Vikings squad to struggle with a rebuilding defense and new coordinators on both sides of the ball, but this franchise, from the Wilf Family down to the front office, coaches and players, has the same goal every season: win the NFC North and challenge for a Super Bowl.
But after two weeks the stats tell the stories: the Vikings have allowed 876 yards and gained only 557. They have 37 first downs and have allowed 55. They have been outscored 71-45 and had the ball for an average of 20 minutes, 9 seconds per game compared to their opponents having it for 39:50.
There’s going to be a lot of questions about whether this team can challenge for a playoff spot, even in a season where seven NFC teams will reach the postseason.
Sid Hartman can be heard on WCCO AM-830 at 8:40 a.m. on Monday and Friday and 10 a.m. on Sundays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org