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We release three Minnesota Sports Ramble blogs a week, one on Tuesday (Minnesota Vikings related), one on Thursday (Minnesota Wild related), and one on Friday (Minnesota Timberwolves related).
The Patriots simple out-performance of the Vikings, inconsistent Kirk Cousins, play calling and DiFillipo, defensive and kicker woes, a dismal outlook for the Seahawks game and the rest of the season, and more in this weeks Vikings edition.
As usual, Rambling On god-king Erik Ritland interviews Vikings analyst Mike Coenen. Sometimes they even go to loggerheads. It's great!
Thanks for reading.
What did you think of the Vikings loss to the Patriots?
Simply, found out what it is like to play against a premier NFL organization prepping itself for a playoff run. The Vikings were out-coached and outplayed. Hell, the Patriots barely broke a sweat. Not a good sign for Mike Zimmer.
On paper, the Vikings have better skill players on offense (minus the quarterback position, although Tom Brady is 41 years old!), a better defense, and theoretically should have been playing with more motivation, considering that they are fighting for their playoff lives, while the Pats all but have their division won.
Nonetheless, the Vikings looked decisively outmatched by an elite, well-oiled, well-coached team the executes with detailed precision play after play. The Patriots are the team the Vikings hoped to be this season. No even close. Maybe next season.
Cousins has been all over the place: one week he looks great, the next he looks abysmal. Is this what we have with Cousins, and if so, is he worth his contract?
Mike: Actually, Kirk Cousins has been neither great, nor abysmal this season. Even though I talk about his good numbers and statistics so far this season, he is in reality a slightly above-average quarterback, and he’s played within the parameters of a slightly above-average quarterback. He’s had good days for a slightly above-average quarterback, and he’s had bad days for a slightly above-average quarterback.
The reason why he and a lot of other mediocre and below-average quarterbacks actually have pro-bowl and even Hall of Fame caliber numbers is because of all the rule changes over the course of the past thirty years, which has resulted in a very quarterback- and receiver-friendly league whose offensive output continues to go up year after year.
So, yes, this is what we have in Kirk Cousins, a slightly above-average quarterback who will have some good games and some bad games. Is he worth the contract? No. As I’ve said before, the Vikings knew they were paying huge money for a slightly above-average quarterback. But it was the price they were willing to pay to replace their slightly below-average quarterback in Case Keenum.
In hindsight, the Vikings should have kept Keenum and spent that money on offensive linemen.
Erik: I think Mike and I are basically saying the same thing. My take is that he's inconsistent, one week (or even half) he's great, one week (or even half) he's abysmal. Hence my question about which Cousins is the real one. He was bad against the Bills, the Bears, in the first half of the Packer game at Lambeau, and most of the time in New England. He was great in the second half of the Packer game at Lambeau, against the Lions, against the Eagles, and even in a losing effort to the Rams.
I'd take a consistently above average quarterback. Cousins is not that. He's an inconsistently bad-to-above-average quarterback.
A lot of people are criticizing John DiFilippo for his lack of creative play calling and for not running the ball enough. Do you think that these are big issues?
The problem is not John DiFilippo’s play calling, nor the fact the Vikings aren’t running the ball more. The problem, as I say each week, is that the Vikings have a terrible offensive line. They don’t run the ball more because the offensive is terrible at run blocking. The Vikings have two good running backs and no good offensive linemen. In the 1992, Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign used the slogan of “it’s the economy, stupid!” to get his economic message out. The slogan that sums up the Minnesota Viking’s 2018 campaign should be “it’s the offensive line, stupid!”
What, if anything, do you see is wrong with the Vikings defense?
They occasionally show signs of the dominance that they displayed most of last season, but then sometimes they get carved up, like they did this past Sunday against the Patriots. It's like they weren’t even there. It’s kind of a mystery as to why and how they can be so bad with all the talent they have.
In 2016, the Viking defense dominated for the first six games, leading to a 6-0 start heading into their bye week. After the break, the Vikings went 2-8, and the terrible play of the defense contributed much to the Viking overall collapse. To this day it remains a mystery as to what happened to the defense those last ten games. The same thing is happening this year.
Why the hell can’t the Vikings find a consistent kicker?
I’m not a superstitious person, but there has got to be some kind of a hex that gets cast on a kicker the minute they put on a Viking uniform. There just has to be!
Will the Vikings beat the surging Seahawks in Seattle? If they lose, do you think they’ll still make the playoffs?
I can’t see the Vikings beating the Seahawks on Monday night. The Seahawks are playing good football right now, not to mention that they are at home.
I have a gut feeling that some of the Viking players have all but quit on Coach Zimmer, just like some of the Packer players supposedly did with Mike McCarthy in Green Bay. This is a real thing in today’s NFL, and a problem for the league.
But no, I don’t expect a Viking victory on Monday. In fact, I predict that the Seahawks blowout the Vikings and they pack it in after that, maybe winning one more game and failing to make the playoffs.
Mike Coenen is a writer, historian, professor, and author from Little Falls, Minnesota. He is the Vikings analyst for Rambling On and is the co-host of the Minnesota Sports Ramble podcast. Since 2016 he has been creating content for Rambling On as sports analyst and podcast co-host.