A Botched Timeout, A Miscommunication, and a Season That’s Spiraling Away
There has been no shortage of attention spent on Minnesota’s horrendous two minute offense from the Cowboys game.
The Vikings lost the game 20-16, a reality that is even more disappointing given that Kirk Cousins was outplayed by Cooper Rush. The fourth-year QB is now 1-0 in his career. Kirk, meanwhile, dropped down to 54-55-2 for his career.
At the end of each half, Minnesota’s offense had an opportunity to put together a two minute drill. At the end of the first, the goal was merely to add onto their lead. Take a look at how Steven described the situation in his piece on Purple PTSD:
Once again for the Vikings, poor situational football left them holding another useless timeout heading into the locker room at the half. With :24 remaining, Kirk Cousins was tackled at the Minnesota 34-yard line after picking up a first down. Rather than burn the team’s final timeout of the half, Coach Mike Zimmer decided to let his team–for lack of better words–play on. Chaos and confusion ensued, with Cousins trying to rush his team back to the line of scrimmage.
Apparently, there is some confusion on whether the franchise QB can call a timeout in that situation:
Why do we have this confusion? Let me put a theory out there.
Against Cleveland, veteran DT Sheldon Richardson tried to call a timeout that Minnesota didn’t have: “That allowed the Browns and head coach Kevin Stefanski to decide whether they wanted the single extra point or move the ball to the one-yard line. Stefanski chose the latter and went for two. On the play, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield completed a pass to fullback Andy Janovich to get two points. The score put the Browns ahead 8-7.” The Vikings would never regain the lead, dropping to Stefanski and the Browns 14-7.
In the aftermath of that mistake, perhaps the coaching staff told the players that only coaches should call a timeout. The problem, of course, is that such an approach can lead to disaster for Minnesota’s two minute offense, as we all saw on Sunday night.
It’s fine if Zim wants to have a blanket policy for his team, but there ought to be a captain on each side of the ball who is given the autonomy to call a timeout if absolutely necessary. Allowing Kirk to do so on offense may have allowed the Vikings to kick a long field goal before the half.
Of course, keeping all the timeouts for the head coach doesn’t do the team very much good if it’s the head coach himself who makes the errors. His 2nd timeout on that final Dallas drive was a massive, massive error. Not only did it move them up five yards, it also stripped Minnesota of one of their timeouts. If we could have stopped them on that 3rd & 16, we would have had a 16-16 tie with enough time on the clock to march down the field for another late-game win. It would have been very interesting to see if Cousins would have been able to use that timeout Minnesota would have been left with.
Instead, the season is dangerously close to spiraling out of control; Minnesota’s two minute offense needs to quickly show considerable improvement. A loss to the Ravens this week would make a playoff push supremely difficult, especially with Danielle Hunter being done for the season.