Kevin O’Connell Defends Kirk Cousins, Calls Out Vikings Offense

Kirk Cousins and Kevin O'Connell

Getty Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell and quarterback Kirk Cousins.

After the Minnesota Vikings escaped Soldier Field with a 19-13 victory over the Chicago Bears, coach Kevin O’Connell defended quarterback Kirk Cousins and effectively called out his receiver room.

The Vikings, missing Justin Jefferson for the first of a minimum of four games, needed every player involved on offense to step up in the superstar’s absence.

Instead, an error-filled performance fitting of the team’s season took place. The offense dropped four passes and failed to put away a struggling Bears team that dominated in the second half. Minnesota went three-and-out on four of six second-half possessions and just 36 net yards of offense for the second half, allowing undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent to come an interception away from erasing a two-score lead.

In a postgame news conference, O’Connell said he felt Cousins should have had a much bigger game after the veteran quarterback mustered just 181 yards and a touchdown on 31 pass attempts for a season-low 5.8 yards per attempt.

“Honestly the way Kirk was throwing it today, feel like it could have been a much, much bigger day,” O’Connell said. “It was kind of a revolving door of missed assignments here from some of our more reliable players. Our guys are excited to get the win, but our offense will be hungry to go back to work and make sure we rectify some of those things.”

Fortunately for the Vikings offense, the defense sealed the victory with a fumble return touchdown from Jordan Hicks in the third quarter and a Byron Murphy Jr. interception that stalled the Bears’ final attempt at a comeback.

Vikings Offense Struggles to Run in Chicago

Kirk Cousins, Alexander Mattison

GettyQuarterback Kirk Cousins (right) of the Minnesota Vikings hands the ball off to running back Alexander Mattison (left).

Yes, a win is a win.

But Week 6 is over and the Vikings will have to put together a stronger performance this week if they stand any chance against a juggernaut San Francisco 49ers team.

They’ll need to solve the struggles that surfaced at Soldier Field, which came partially due to inefficiencies in the running game.

Alexander Mattison was behind 18 of the offense’s 22 rushing attempts and managed just 44 yards, averaging just 2.4 yards a clip. Surprisingly, Mattison remained the focal point of the offense, eating up 25 total touches compared to the 24 touches the rest of the offense saw.

The offensive line didn’t create the space Mattison had seen the past three games where he averaged 4.8 yards per carry. However, the Vikings’ did not get creative in trying to remedy the situation. Cam Akers took a 1 carry for 8 yards. He was the only other running back to log offensive playing time, seeing 9 snaps compared to Mattison’s 45 snaps.

“Once we got a lead, I think we were certainly wanting to run the football, run the clock, and then that at times then kind of potentially gave us some longer 3rd downs that were harder to convert as [the Bears] were kind of sinking (in coverage),” Cousins said in a postgame news conference.

 Vikings Underdogs vs. 49ers on Primetime

The Vikings (2-5) open their Week 7 primetime matchup against the 49ers (5-1) as 6-point underdogs, according to Heavy’s projection engine Quarter4.

San Francisco will be seeking some revenge after losing their first game of the season to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday but could be shorthanded.

The 49ers had Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey exit the game with injuries, which could make this game a low-scoring affair come Monday night.