What Can We Learn From Minnesota’s Primetime Blues?


Ever for the reason that Minnesota Vikings signed Kirk Cousins in 2018, followers have turn into annoyed with the crew’s incapacity to constantly carry out primetime video games. Games within the early time slots have been favorable to the crew. Games in primetime have featured each clunkers and heartbreakers, together with just a few wins alongside the way in which.

Nearly half of Minnesota’s video games (eight) are at present scheduled exterior of the midday slot subsequent yr, together with 4 evening video games after the bye week. If they will’t carry out when America’s eyes are on them, it may value each Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman their jobs.

What is the basis of their primetime issues? And is there something that may be discovered from their previous failures?

I went again and crunched the numbers to see how a lot totally different the crew performs when the lights are brightest. I included the 2019 playoff video games and final yr’s Christmas Day catastrophe as primetime video games when all eyes had been on the crew. And due to this, I decided that the 2018 season finale in opposition to the Chicago Bears ought to be included, because it was primarily an elimination sport.

2018

Non-Primetime

  • Record: 7-2-1
  • Offense: 353.6 yds/gm, 24.Eight factors/gm, 1.Three turnovers/gm
  • Defense: 296.1 yds/gm, 18.6 factors/gm, 1.Four takeaways/gm

Primetime

  • Record: 1-5
  • Offense: 332.1 yds/gm, 18.6 factors/gm, 1.2 turnovers/gm
  • Defense: 332.2 yds/gm, 25.Eight factors/gm, 1 takeaway/gm

The distinction within the numbers throughout the 2018 season are staggering. Minnesota averaged one landing much less in primetime video games whereas the protection allowed over seven factors extra per contest. The 57-yard benefit the Vikings held in non-primetime contests was a digital draw underneath the lights.

Perhaps most evident is that at the beginning look, Cousins appeared to have extra success in primetime. He threw 12 touchdowns and solely three interceptions in these video games. However, two of the interceptions had been run again for touchdowns. Cousins additionally fumbled, and the ball was run again for a rating in a Monday evening loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

With a playoff berth on the road, the Vikings simply wanted to beat the Bears within the ultimate sport of the season. Chicago already had the division and their playoff seeding locked up. Instead, each groups performed the sport the opposite crew ought to have performed. Minnesota laid an egg, mustering up a mere 164 yards of offense. The Bears ran for 169 yards, and the Vikings had been eradicated and embarrassed following the 24-10 defeat.

2019

Non-Primetime

  • Record: Eight-Four
  • Offense: 363.Eight yds/gm, 26.6 factors/gm, 1.2 turnovers/gm
  • Defense: 331.6 yds/gm, 17.5 factors/gm, 1.9 takeaways/gm

Primetime

  • Record: Three-Three
  • Offense: 300 yds/gm, 20.5 factors/gm, 1.Three turnovers/gm
  • Defense: 353 yds/gm, 23.Three factors/gm, 2 takeaways/gm

Once once more, the Vikings carried out worse within the massive spot. Kirk didn’t reward the opposition any factors this time round, however the offense was once more underwhelming in primetime — to the tune of practically 64 yards fewer and 6 factors fewer per sport, whereas the protection allowed 22 yards and practically a landing extra per sport.

This was by no means extra evident than within the penultimate sport of the common season. With a Week 16 date in opposition to the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, the Vikings nonetheless had an opportunity to win the NFC North. Unfortunately, Minnesota solely managed 183 yards of complete offense, one yard shy of what Green Bay ran for as a crew (sound acquainted?). The Vikings, paying homage to a yr earlier, misplaced 23-10, securing the sixth seed within the NFC.

2020

Non-Primetime

  • Record: 6-7
  • Offense: 27.1 factors/gm, 391.Eight yds/gm, 1.Four turnovers/gm
  • Defense: 29.5 factors/gm, 403.5 yds/gm, 1.Three takeaways/gm

Primetime

  • Record: 1-2
  • Offense: 26 factors/gm, 399.Three yds/gm, 1.Three turnovers/gm
  • Defense: 30.7 factors/gm, 348.7 yds/gm, 1.6 takeaways/gm

The pattern dimension was smaller final yr, and everyone knows that the Vikings struggled with accidents. But points nonetheless arose within the massive moments. In Week 5, Minnesota entered Seattle with a 1-Three report. Even although the Vikings had been in prime place to steal the sport on a late 4th and 1, the Seahawks protection held agency and responded with a 94-yard landing drive to drop the Vikings to 1-Four.

Even although Minnesota had limped by means of the season with a patchwork protection, they one way or the other entered Christmas Day on the Superdome with a slight probability of creating the playoffs. A victory over the New Orleans Saints was unlikely, and the win alone wouldn’t have gotten the crew into the postseason. But they wanted to win.

Instead, the Saints had been the superior crew and embarrassed the Vikings 52-33. Alvin Kamara ran for a record-tying six touchdowns. Once once more, Minnesota didn’t put up a battle late within the yr after they wanted a victory.

 

Every yr since Cousins signed, the Vikings have performed under their requirements in primetime video games. It hasn’t all been due to Cousins, though he has his justifiable share of blame within the matter. A contender ought to be elevating itself in these moments, not dropping factors and productiveness. The crew has 4 primetime video games slated for the 2021 season. On paper, the roster appears to be like improved and has the potential for a deep playoff run, however that gained’t come to fruition if they will’t win when the lights are brightest.



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