After such an impressive start to the season, the Vikings’ offense is suddenly in the heat of the moment
Too bad for these great hopes.
The Vikings, third in the NFL in total offense with an average of 425 yards in the first three games, only managed 255 yards in the 14-7 loss to Cleveland last Sunday and fell to 1-3. Cousins had a tough outing, completing just 20 of 38 passes for 203 yards and throwing his first interception of the season. And Cook looked unhealthy, rushing for just 34 yards on nine carries.
Now the Vikings, who have fallen to 15th in the league in all-out offense, will look to revive Sunday’s offense against Detroit at US Bank Stadium.
“I was fortunate to get back on track against the Lions,” Cousins said Wednesday.
“We’re good,” Cook said. “There is no feeling of panic. Just a game, man. We have nothing spectacular to do. We know we have the players to play football, we just have to go and play. Have a good week of preparation. Forget about last week.
Cook was injured in Arizona on September 19, but stayed in the game before missing a game on September 26 against Seattle. Alexander Mattison replaced Cook against the Seahawks and tied his career high with 112 rushing yards in a 30-17 victory, adding to the optimism surrounding the team last week.
But Mattison, in rotation with Cook against the Browns, had just 10 carries for 20 yards. Cook did not train on Wednesday, but said before training his ankle was improving and he planned to play on Sunday.
“This week I feel like I’m taking that step back to being who I am, so that’s the plan,” he said. “Keep attacking my rehabilitation. … Take it day by day and try to be Dalvin again.
Cook said he only had to go out once in the second half against the Browns because of his injury, and the pre-game plan was to split the races with Mattison.
“I’m not 100 percent yet,” he said. “I’m still working to get back to where I need to be. I had a little hiccup there, but I calmed down, I got back in my place. … I feel like I’m going in the right direction to get back to where I need to be.
Even as Cook returns to full force, questions remain about Minnesota‘s faltering offensive line and Cousins’ ability to overcome it. The Browns have pressured Cousins 22 times, according to Pro Football Reference.
Asked how much pressure Cleveland had to do with the offensive line and how many were aided by Cousins’ inability to escape the rush, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said: ” I don’t think it’s on one group. “
Zimmer and Cousins both complimented the Browns, who have one of the best assists in the NFL.
“It was a test for us, and the next time we face someone, starting this Sunday, we have to be prepared to respond,” Cousins said.
It probably helps that the Vikings face the Lions (0-4), who rank 29th in the NFL in defensive scoring and 21st in total defense. The last time Cousins faced Detroit, he completed 28 of 40 passes for 405 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions as Minnesota won the 2020 final, 37-35.
If Cousins has another big game, the narrative around him might change again. As recently as last week, Cook declared that “out of a pocket”, Cousins is the “best in the game”.
At the time, Cousins was ranked third best quarterback in the NFL by Pro Football Focus and fourth in the league for the passer rating. He has since fallen to 7th and 10th respectively.
“You don’t ride a roller coaster,” Cousins said of the fickle nature of being an NFL quarterback. “You just have to keep a cool head, don’t go too high, don’t go too low, and that’s really the way I’ve been doing it for my entire career.”