By Jim Souhan
The Vikings have become masterful at promoting their brand. The Skol clap and the new training facility are proof.
So on Saturday, they made another brilliant marketing decision. They decided to save all football excitement for the regular season.
The Vikings’ 14-10 loss to Jacksonville at U.S. Bank Stadium was an unwatchable mess. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins made his home Vikings debut...and completed three of his eight passes for 12 yards. Latavius Murray, starting at running back as the team continued to hold out star Dalvin Cook as he recovers from knee surgery, fumbled twice. And the referees demonstrated that they have no ability to distinguish between a normal tackle and an illegal hit under the new rules, littering the field with unnecessary flags.
The Vikings blew a 10-7 lead late in the fourth quarter by giving up a long punt return and a short touchdown run with 1:55 remaining. They finished the game 0-for-12 on third downs.
Even one apparent Vikings’ highlight might not deserve the moniker. Laquon Treadwell caught two passes in the first half, but failed to look elusive while trying to run after the catch. He’s a big, strong receiver, but he rarely looks quick enough to make a defender miss.
If there was an offensive highlight for the Vikings, it was the running of Mike Boone, who looked dynamic when given space, and twisted into the end zone on a one-yard touchdown run for what would prove to be the game-winning score.
To perpetuate the cliche, two high-quality defenses were well ahead of the offenses. The Vikings’ defense intercepted Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles once and should have had a second, if not for Mackensie Alexander’s drop at the end of the Jaguars’ first drive.
It is a testament to the popularity of the NFL that the league can get people to show up for preseason football.
This is a quick reaction blog post filed at the end of the game. My column in the Sunday paper and at startribune.com will be on Teddy Bridgewater and the Jaguars.
You can find my podcasts at TalkNorth.com