Eight Thoughts Following Minnesota’s Week 5 Victory
Minnesota’s Week 5 victory over the division rival Chicago Bears certainly gives Vikings fans a lot of reasons to be optimistic. A 4-1 record is excellent, an indicator that this team has taken a significant step forward under Kevin O’Connell’s leadership.
Be that as it may, is it all optimism for the purple and gold? After establishing a 21-3 lead, the Vikings struggled to corral the Bears. In the fourth quarter, Chicago was up 22-21, an indication of how poorly Minnesota played for a decent stretch of the game.
Unpacking Minnesota’s Week 5 Victory Over Chicago
1. The special teams had a really poor day. Take a look at some of the issues:
- 0/2 on field goals (one was blocked).
- A punt that went for 15 yards, but then came back another 10 due to a hold. In the end, the Vikings gained 5 yards. Chicago went on to score a TD.
- Kene Nwangwu again failed to have any explosive kickoff returns.
- The kickoff allowed the Bears to get to the 33 to begin the third quarter. The Bears went on to score a TD.
We could likely find other things to discuss, but you get the point: it was rough out there. Now, there are times when a unit just performs poorly. In Week 2, the offense didn’t do very much. In Week 5, the special teams struggled. There isn’t reason to panic, but we’ve now seen several missed field goals and some consistent struggles on kickoff return. Plenty of room to improve.
2. Overall, a nice day for Kirk Cousins. The interception wasn’t great, though I won’t be overly critical since he was targeting Adam Thielen down the field. I’m in favor of more Thielen and more aggressive passing. Cousins deserves a lot of credit for the great start and finish. He now has three-straight game-winning drives from Week 3-5.
3. In a perfect world, the Vikings can allow their early efficiency to create late explosiveness. Justin Jefferson was a central part of their early success (he finished the day with 12 catches for 154 receiving yards; he also completed a pass for 23 yards). Can the offense leverage that early success with the shorter completions to find an open man down the field later on? This is an offense that has the capacity to be more explosive.
4. Justin Fields was sacked 11 times from Week 3 to Week 4. In Minnesota’s Week 5 victory, Fields was only sacked twice. Given the talent up front, that’s a disappointing result.
5. Fields actually had a really nice game. Admittedly, I haven’t followed his career super closely, but I have been paying attention some since he plays for the Bears. On Sunday, Fields showed great poise and resilience. Even after getting down early, the Bears could fight back into the game, largely due to the play of their sophomore QB.
6. Will O’Connell keep sending Joseph out for kicks that are beyond 50 yards?
7. Patrick Peterson had a couple rough reps in coverage. It’s hard to know what Miami’s offense will look like, but I’m still nervous about Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Their top two receivers have the capacity to generate some explosive gains for the Dolphins.
8. Cameron Dantzler has the capacity to be an excellent football player. His late-game strip on Ihmir Smith-Marsette was precisely what the Vikings
defense team needed. The young corner regularly attacks the football when he makes a tackle. His willingness to keep trying to strip the football is a major part of the reason why Minnesota climbed to 4-1.
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