Minnesota Vikings Hall of Famer Cris Carter voiced what fans have been feeling for years — the Vikings have shown they’re content with mediocrity.
After an embarrassing 20-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football where the defense’s most important player, defensive end Danielle Hunter, suffered a season-ending torn pectoral injury, Pro Football Talk (PFT) sent a tweet that encapsulated the Vikings’ timidness to make a serious run.
The Vikings brass failed to make a serious move to find a replacement for Hunter at the trade deadline despite the 2021 season being a make-or-break season.
Among possible trade candidates was Pro Bowl edge rusher Von Miller, who was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for 2022 second- and third-round picks while the Broncos pay $9 million of his $9.7 million base salary remaining this season, per ESPN.
“The Von Miller trade is a prime example of the difference between the Rams and the Vikings. While Minnesota dog paddles, L.A. does cannonballs,” PFT tweeted.
Carter responded: “We’re so average and content: it sucks.”
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Talent Not the Issue
Despite the Vikings’ complacency at the trade deadline while being just a game outside the NFC playoff picture entering Week 9, the team’s pursuit of talent has not been the issue.
The Vikings poured $46.3 million of new contracts and talent into a defense that returned just two starters from 2020 — a horrendous year for the team that was undoubtedly Mike Zimmer’s worst unit in his tenure in Minnesota.
The team has performed from a season standpoint. Zimmer produced a laundry list of notable statistics his defense and offense have posted so far in his Wednesday press conference.
The problem has been closing games.
Two bottom-tier quarterbacks in Cowboys backup Cooper Rush and Sam Darnold, who was benched this season, produced scoring drives late in regulation against a defense that has held opponents to 19.2 points per game in their last five games.
Offensive playcalling has put the defense in these situations in games that should have essentially been put away if the Vikings offense kept its foot on the gas and played to win.
The 3-4 Vikings are what they are and talent is not the issue. It’s proven to be poor clock management and coaching.
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Cousins ‘Wants More Say’ on Offense
The most frustrating part of the Vikings offense’s underperformance this season has been that they’ve started games on the right foot often, scoring on the first drive in each of their last six games. But late in the game, they’ve looked abysmal.
The offense ranks 30th in fourth-quarter scoring and have struggled to clinch games this season despite many opportunities.
The Athletic’s Chad Graff noted that this is Cousins’ second-worst season with the Vikings when looking at advanced stats. Graff speculated “what he believes he knows” about the state of the Vikings offense and felt that Cousins wants more control of the offense’s playcalling.
Graff’s speculation comes after Cousins revealed that he generally has left calling timeouts to the coaching staff in his Cowboys postgame press conference.
I think it’s possible to read between the lines on some of Cousins’ statements about why the team is under center less and uses fewer play-action passes, two areas where he has historically been very good. Plus, in an age when the influence of quarterbacks has grown elsewhere, I think Cousins wants more say on what the offense does and the direction the team takes. The head coach agrees.
“I think he does, yeah,” Zimmer said in September when asked whether Cousins wants more autonomy in the offense. “I think he’s got opinions on a lot of things.”