THE MORNING AFTER: 5 Glaring Observations from Sunday's 27-6 Loss

posted by Aj Mansour - 

Photo: Getty Images

Woof, Buzz's girlfriend.

What an ugly game, pretty much from top to bottom. It was a three-phase failure for the Minnesota Vikings and before they knew it, they were down by 17 points and the entire game plan the rest of the way had to change. Let's just say that's not ideal.

Anyways, here are five things that stuck out to me above the rest from Sunday's loss to the Bills.

Cousins got off on the wrong foot...

Remember that good feeling we all had last weekend when Kirk Cousins carried the Vikings back from behind in the fourth quarter to tie the Packers? We all felt great. We were saying things like, "we finally have a franchise QB," and "Kirk can throw us back into any game, against any team"...unless that team is named the Buffalo Bills.

Again, in fairness to everybody, two straight strip sack fumbles for Kirk leading to short fields and 17 points for the Bills is going to change the game plan for anybody. You then become unbalanced, you're forced to throw more and with no protection up front from your offensive line, there's no time to let your WRs get open. Here's what hurts. The game plan that the Vikings needed to employ once they were down and the Bills DEs pinned their ears back, it was the exact game plan that Buffalo and rookie QB Josh Allen brought to the table against Minnesota. Allen was getting the ball out of his hands so quickly the Vikings couldn't get much pressure on him throughout the day. When they did, they closed and got the sacks, but most of the time the ball was already out of his hands by the time the defense got to him.

Cousins also had three nondescript, flat out bad overthrows in the first quarter that could have totally changed the tone of that first half. Hitting just one of those passes to Thielen would have put the Vikings in business to at least get on the board with a Dan Bailey FG and stop the bleeding. Not sure what that was all about. It's no secret either, Kirk was ticked about it too.

"I should’ve kept the ball flatter and flattened him out on his route," Cousins said I was so concerned about the underneath coverage dropping, I tried to put it up and over and it ended up being too far where Adam couldn’t get to it. That was a play you feel like was there. The inaccuracy of the throw led to the drive stalling and that is where it’s frustrating.

Dan Bailey had the play of the game...

Early talk all last week was ALL about our kicking situation, cutting Daniel Carlson and signing Dan Bailey. Carlson was out, Bailey in and all was right with the world in our kicking game, right? Not exactly.

Bailey may end up being the MVP of the team this year but when you keep the team out of the endzone, out of the red zone and out of Bills territory until late in the game, you take that game changing kicker and neutralize him. Bailey kicked off to start the game and then sat on the sidelines for about 58 minutes doing nothing. No more kickoffs, no field goals, no extra points. But when he did get in there after the lone Vikings score,  he delivered what might have been the best onside kick I've ever seen...and still the Vikings couldn't close on that. 

What's going on with Everson Griffen?

We knew going into the game that Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen wasn't going to be playing this Sunday, but when he was a no show on the sidelines for the game, interest was peaked. 

Lack of inclusion can be chalked up to an injury situation but lack of presence raises all sorts  of questions about what's going, how long will it last and how big of a deal is this "personal matter" that Coach Zimmer said he was dealing with. Sooner or later we're going to find out, but the uncertainty of the matter really puts into question his status for Thursday's game against the Rams in L.A.

Special teams is becoming a problem...

You've heard the saying, "where there's smoke, there's a fire" right? What should we think when we look at the Vikings special teams core and each and every week through the preseason and now into the regular season there's been smoke, and large amounts of it?

It goes beyond the personnel decisions at kicker and punter too. There are knucklehead decisions, poor tackles, missed assignments and penalties all over the place for this Vikings special teams unit. I'm not sure if it's leadership, insubordination or something else but someone's got to reel this group in and quit hurting the offense and defense with terrible field position over and over again. Special teams often times gets overlooked unless it's going horribly. This just in, it's going horribly...

David Morgan might be this team's MVP...

I'm not going to go as far as to say that this offensive line has been great this season, but compared to how they looked yesterday, they've been much better in the first two weeks. There were two personnel differences yesterday in defending the pass rush and I firmly believe that one of them had a big impact on their success, or lack there of.

Dalvin Cook was held out of Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, but I don't think he would have helped much with his inexperience and you can only expect so much out of a smaller running back when DEs are running at him.

But also missing the game, this one with a knee injury was tight end David Morgan. Morgan has always been known as an all around tight end meaning he can have an impact in all facets of the offense. He can catch, he can block and maybe most important he can chip an edge rusher on his way out for a route. Do you think that Riley Reiff could have benefited from Morgan chipping Jerry Hughes a time or two yesterday? Kyle Rudolph is a good pass catcher, but a defensive blocker he is not. He's always had guys like Morgan and Rhett Ellison in there with him to serve this purpose. It will likely be overlooked, but getting Morgan back on the field might be one of the most important things for this tea,.

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