So the Vikings dropped their first game of the season, in week #1, on the road to the Cincinnati Bengals...and man oh man was it an ugly one.
But one loss is just one loss, right? Normally I would say yes, but this game might have left me more concerned for the way that the rest of the season might play out than I was heading into it or in any other season. Follow me for a second, here's what I'm thinking.
We entered this season with a handful of really important questions surrounding this team after what we saw in the preseason. The offense has stumbled, the o-line struggled and the defense was yielding yards left and right. But we didn't have our starters in there, at least that's what we all thought.
Yesterday in Cincinnati, the starters were in there for the most part. Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, Harrison Smith, Patrick Peterson, Danielle Hunter, they all played. Sure we were missing Anthony Barr and Christian Darrisaw...and almost all of the struggles that concerned us in the preseason continued.
The offensive got manhandled to the point that they were falling on desperation moves of holding players after getting beat left and right. And Kirk Cousins didn't help their cause either. When the coach calls you out on TV at the half saying that some of those penalties are the quarterbacks fault for holding the ball too long, that's not good. On the offensive side of the ball there was just a general lack of cohesion throughout and it looked like that hadn't played preseason together at all, which they hadn't.
On defense, the struggles against the run continued despite the inclusion of Pierce and Tomlinson in the middle. Joe Mixon finished the day, albeit in overtime, with 127 yards rushing and the Vikings couldn't get a stop on third down.
Additionally, highly paid defensive end Danielle Hunter seemingly had no impact whatsoever until late in the fourth quarter. His sack came at a huge moment, but up until that point he may as well not have been out there. He hasn't played in a year and a half, but man it was disappointing.
But here's the real rub, this was supposed to be a game that the Vikings were going to win, ya know when you looked on paper before the season started. There weren't too many games that the team should have chalked up as a win, and this was one of them, and it was a missed opportunity. The next few weeks are rough. You've got the Cardinals next week on the road and then home against the Seahawks and the Browns...there's a very real chance that this team starts the season 0-4 before hosting the Lions who are the Vikings only remaining shot at what should be a sure thing win. We were saying a few months ago that this was a tough schedule, after week one, after the Vikings poor performance, it's looking even more difficult.