1. Third-down problems return
In the Vikings’ two wins, they’re a combined 16-for-27 in converting third downs. In their two losses, they’re 8-for-25, including a 3-for-10 showing Sunday. It’s part of the reason their offense has been so maddeningly inconsistent, capable of both flashy showings and single-digit point production, and if the Vikings want to have any kind of sustained success, it will start with consistent drives.
2. Better day for Waynes
The Vikings still are working through a learning curve with Trae Waynes, who is in his first year as a full-time starter at cornerback. The No. 11 pick in the 2015 draft has gone through some rough moments in the first quarter of the season, but while he missed a chance to bring in an interception Sunday, he was more solid in coverage than he’s been recently. According to Pro Football Focus, Waynes was targeted six times, giving up four completions for a modest 43 yards. “I thought he played a lot better,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “He covered his guys a lot closer. For the most part, he tackled well.”
3. Balanced offense in jeopardy
The presence of Dalvin Cook through the season’s first four games had been a big reason why the Vikings were closer to constructing the balanced offense they envisioned this offseason after rushing for the league’s fewest yards a year ago. With the rookie out for the season, though, the Vikings will have to adjust quickly. Latavius Murray has been a productive NFL back, and Jerick McKinnon has had his moments in three years, but neither has been a consistent big-play threat. The Vikings will need their offensive line to open holes consistently, while protecting their quarterback — and if the Vikings are going to need to lean on that quarterback regularly, they might need a healthy Sam Bradford relatively soon.