The Vikings were riding a high this past week, and rightfully so. After coming off a dominate performance over their division rival Green Bay Packers, there was a certain level of confidence that this new regime had actually given us a breath of fresh air, and that the past was truly the past. Unfortunately, that came to a crashing halt on Monday night when the Vikings traveled to Philadelphia and put on a performance that looked eerily similar to what we saw from the previous regime. This is leaving many fans questioning, what should we expect from this Vikings team?
Reasons for Optimism
There is a lot of hope still for this Vikings team, and many fans should pump the brakes on this doom and gloom mentality. Although there were many things to nitpick, which we will get to. There were still some positive takeaways from the Vikings performance on MNF. Let’s start with the least exciting, Special Teams. Through two games this unit has played great, and it showed Monday night with a blocked field goal. The unit is Pro Football Focus’ 8th ranked ST unit. Meanwhile, rookie punter Ryan Wright (PFF’s 5th ranked P) has been off to a great start, leading the league in fair catches (5), and punts inside the 20-yard line (7). Special teams typically aren’t a unit that fans care about until they lose you a game (looks at the Green Bay Packers), but so far Vikings fans should be happy with the performance through two weeks.
Fans should also still be optimistic about the offense. Yes, Monday night’s performance was bad, but the Eagles Defense is no slouch either. They are littered with savvy vets across the board, and those playmakers showed up Monday night. But there were still plenty of opportunities for the Vikings offense that they just didn’t take advantage of, early in the game there were two plays back-to-back where Kirk Cousins had Jefferson open, and on the very next play he had Thielen open as well. So, they plays were there, it just came down to execution, which the Vikings failed to do multiple times.
Reasons for Concern
It’s easy to look at Monday’s game and be concerned about a lot of things, but there really are only two real concerns I have as we move forward in the season. The first is the defense. This is a unit that in large part is the same as last season, and through two games we’ve seen two drastically different performances. But one thing that we’ve seen in consecutive weeks is big plays. In week 1, the Vikings were bailed out by Rookie WR Christian Watson dropping a pass that would’ve changed the trajectory of that game. In Week 2, we saw the opposite, WR Quez Watkins blaze past our DB’s for a 53-yard TD. Whether it’s communication, or skill by our Defense, there is cause for concern that we’ve seen this happen in two straight weeks. The Lions are sure to test this as we head into week 3.
The other concern is Dalvin Cook. I’m not here to suggest that he’s washed, I think it’s far too early to say that. But through two games he’s been underwhelming. He was pretty much shut down in Monday night’s game, and in last week’s game vs the Packers he was quiet (yet efficient). It may be the new scheme, or just the way the games have played out. It’s something to keep an eye on though as we continue to progress through the season.
All in all, the Vikings will likely be fine as we move forward, and no one game should define who this team is, especially this early in the season. Last week HC Kevin O’Connell stood at the podium, fresh off his first win and said, “The second you celebrate, and start feeling yourself a little bit, this league has a funny way of humbling you”. That’s exactly what happened Monday night. The pressure is now on to see how they respond.