INDIANAPOLIS – At one point in the second half Sunday, Kirk Cousins’ report card stood at 1.8, which would be bad if he were a student and that was his grade-point average, but as an NFL quarterback, a rating that low would make Spergon Wynn wince.
Remarkably, it got worse.
Yep, Cousins accomplished a nearly impossible feat. He pulled a Blutarsky in passer rating after three quarters.
“Certainly disappointed,” Cousins said. “It was just a poor day.”
For him, his team, the whole operation.
The Vikings are 0-2 and not close to being competent, which is best reflected in their quarterback’s performance in a sobering 28-11 loss to an Indianapolis Colts team that won’t remind anyone of the Patriots dynasty.
Cousins threw three interceptions, got sacked in the end zone for a safety for a second consecutive game and finished with a 15.9 rating, ninth-worst in franchise history.
Specific answers about his struggles were elusive. Cousins mentioned “watching the film” a half-dozen times. His head coach gave a clipped review, too.
“I don’t know,” Zimmer said. “He didn’t play very good.”
Nobody did. Offense, defense or special teams.
That Zimmer’s defense has looked feeble so far hardly qualifies as a shocking development. Just about everyone outside of the team facility predicted it. Roster turnover and a young, unproven secondary made this a rebuild-on-the-fly project. Growing pains were inevitable.
The offense, however, returned a cohesive unit, with the exception of Stefon Diggs, whose absence after forcing a trade is as conspicuous as an elephant waltzing through Times Square.
“We’ve got a pretty veteran offensive group,” Zimmer said. “That is concerning to me.”
Remember that popular story line in training camp, the one about the offense likely having to carry the defense for a change? Good one.
Everything seems off. All facets. The quarterback looks befuddled. Adam Thielen is the only reliable receiver, except even he had a drop on third down. And the line continues to be a weak spot.
That beautiful pass from Cousins to Thielen in a playoff win at New Orleans feels like a lifetime ago right now.
“Figure out what we’re good at and let’s start doing what we’re good [at],” Zimmer said when asked about the offense’s identity. “Right now, we’re not very good at anything.”
That’s a damning statement considering the money invested in Cousins and Dalvin Cook.
Fresh off a contract extension this offseason worth $96 million, Cousins looks lost without a reliable running game and being forced to play catch-up the first two games.
His first two interceptions happened late in the first half on desperation heaves, hoping for a miracle. His third interception came off a deflection on a pass thrown behind Bisi Johnson on a slant. The ball was catchable but not in a spot where Johnson could do anything with it.
The Colts secondary was shorthanded by injuries coming off a loss last week in which Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew completed 19 of 20 passes with three touchdowns.
Cousins played like a rookie making his NFL debut.
“It was just one of those days where we couldn’t get anything going,” he said. “It was a variety of reasons. It’s hard to pin it on any one thing.”
He then mentioned watching the tape again. Personally, I’d burn that sucker and forget the whole thing ever happened.
It’s easy to blame play-calling, too, but offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak probably doesn’t have a lot of trust in his personnel. Hard to call plays when the offensive line can’t protect and the quarterback is ill-equipped to improvise or overcome limitations of those around him.
Cousins labeled the offense’s struggles as “small sample size,” which is true but hardly reassuring. As Zimmer noted, what is the Vikings’ offensive identity?
They have one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL, but they built their offense around a ball-control running game. In two games, they are getting slaughtered in time of possession and there is no Plan B.
“We have to find ourselves,” Cook said. “I’ve got 1,000 percent faith in this team that we’re going to find ourselves.”
In other words, they are lost.
Chip Scoggins firstname.lastname@example.org