Count Vikings offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak among those accepting a chunk of the blame for Kirk Cousins’ awful play during the Vikings’ 0-2 start this season.
“I’ve got to find some room for him is the best way to put it,” Kubiak said Thursday. “We had some plays last week where he had no place to go with the ball. Me sitting there looking at what we’re doing and saying, ‘OK, we’ve got to get some people open in these situations vs. coverages.’ ”
Last season Cousins ranked fourth in passer rating at 107.4. He currently weighs in at 34th — in a 32-team league — at 61.9.
Cousins has completed 66.8% of his career passes, second best in NFL history behind Drew Brees (67.6%). This year, Cousins is completing 58.8%.
“We’ve had some plays that were very difficult on him,” Kubiak said. “Kirk is battling; he’s doing his part. He’s battling, studying, working hard, practicing hard. I take it personal that I’ve got to help him more, and I know his teammates need to as well. Finding space for him to make some plays with the ball.”
Kubiak questioned some of his schemes vs. the defenses he’s seen the first two weeks.
“When you look at things and say, ‘Well, we ran this route, did he have a place to go with the ball?’ ” he said. “It’s third-and-6, we ran this route, did he miss somebody or did we not have a place to go with the ball? As a coordinator, when you’re looking at those things and you feel like, hey, the kid had no place to go here or something, hell, that’s personal.”
Boyd added to injury report
Two of the Vikings’ top three corners — Mike Hughes (neck) and Cameron Dantzler (rib) — were sidelined from practice again Thursday. And if that wasn’t bad enough, another cornerback, Kris Boyd, was added to the injury report as limited because of a hamstring issue.
Running back Mike Boone (concussion) returned to practice as limited. Left tackle Riley Reiff (ankle) was limited again.
Rookie linebacker Troy Dye, who saw playing time after Anthony Barr sustained a season-ending pectoral injury, was placed on injured reserve because of an ankle injury.
For the Titans, cornerback Malcolm Butler (quad) was upgraded to limited, cornerback Johnathan Joseph (calf) was downgraded from full to did not practice, tight end Jonnu Smith (ankle) was upgraded from did not practice to full, and right tackle Dennis Kelly returned from an illness.
Thielen looks for openings
Adam Thielen has 141 yards receiving, almost double the next closest Viking but 98 behind former teammate Stefon Diggs, who leads the league in his first year with the 2-0 Bills.
Asked to describe how defenses are treating him differently without Diggs on the opposite side, Thielen paused and said, “Yeah, I really don’t know how to answer that, to be honest.
“I’m just trying to focus on my job trying to really just play what’s given to me. Whatever coverage is on that specific down, figure it out and try to get open and make plays.”
It’s no shock defenses are paying more attention to Thielen. The antidote, Kubiak said, is Cousins and his other targets developing better chemistry. And that’s unlikely to be a quick fix considering the Nos. 2 and 3 receivers are second-year player Bisi Johnson and rookie Justin Jefferson.
“Guys have to step up and make plays,” Kubiak said. “So Kirk’s just got to trust what we’re doing and those guys just have to go win for him. And Adam will make his plays.”
Defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo said coach Mike Zimmer started Week 3 by asking his players a question during a team meeting.
He said, “ ‘Raise your hand if you haven’t responded to adversity,’ ” Odenigbo said.
No one did, of course.
“And he says, ‘Yeah, you guys wouldn’t be here [if you haven’t].’ So you’ve got to weather the storm. … You can’t get desperate. So that’s kind of what we’ve been doing.”
Few players have overcome more than Odenigbo, a 26-year-old who has been cut by three teams, including the Vikings, who selected him in the seventh round of the 2017 draft.
“I think what I thought about [when Zimmer asked the question] was when I was cut and I was in Cleveland and I think we started like 0-2 and then … that third game we ended up beating the Jets and that was our first win in a year,” he said.