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Monday Morning Mailbag: Assessing Kirk Cousins and the Vikings Offense

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What false narratives are you going to tell the public from this Sunday's game? What about the inept ability of Kirk Cousins mismanaging the offense?

— Bill Gagnon in San Jose, California

Well, the offense put up 464 total yards on Sunday, so let's not act like that side of the ball was a total disaster. Dalvin Cook had a career-high 181 rushing yards, and Justin Jefferson looked like a star in the making with 175 receiving yards and a score on seven catches.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Vikings became the first team in NFL history to have both a player with 175-plus rushing yards and a player with 175-plus receiving yards in the same game. But we know how the end result turned out.

Kirk Cousins had his moments, too, on Sunday. But he couldn't rally the team when they needed him most, and franchise quarterbacks will always get dinged publicly for that.

Through 50-plus minutes, the Vikings offense looked great. But on the final two drives, the offense went nowhere.

Up 30-28 with 6:31 left, the unit managed five plays for just 12 net yards and were forced to punt. And after the Titans took a lead, the offense managed one net yard on four plays and the last gasp ended with a Cousins' interception.

Cousins said after the game that when you put up nearly 500 yards and 30 points, those are games you expect to win. And for the most part, he's correct.

But the situation called for just a little bit more in the fourth quarter, and the quarterback and his offensive teammates didn't deliver. Good, but not good enough, for the Vikings offense on Sunday.

View game action images as the Vikings take on the Titans ton Sunday.

Since we're staring into the void at 0-3 and firmly tied to Cousins for a while, what would you say our chances are of taking a page out of the Chiefs/Ravens playbook and drafting someone to sit behind Kirk for a year (or two)? Seems to have worked pretty well for them, and this new kid can develop for a while if need-be (like a certain future Hall of Famer in Green Bay). Trevor Lawrence may be a bit of a pipe dream for the Vikings right now (though that hair could make for killer Viking braids), but who do you think they might pick if they were to go that route?

— Jakob Jorgenson

I wrote about this in the previous mailbag, but I'm not going to get any in-depth draft conversations anytime soon. While the start of the season has been frustrating, there are still 13 games remaining.

I will, however, tackle the aspect of drafting a first-round quarterback. In short, every team wants to find that home run in the early rounds that can lead the team for the next decade or so.

It's what the Chiefs did with Patrick Mahomes, and the Ravens did with Lamar Jackson, even if they didn't start right away. And yes, the same concept applies to the current quarterback in Green Bay, with the Packers drafting Jordan Love 26th overall in April and sitting behind Aaron Rodgers.

Will the Vikings do the same in the next year or so? Well, we know they wouldn't mind building around a young quarterback, as Teddy Bridgewater was a first-rounder in 2014. But the Vikings didn't have a veteran like Cousins under contract, which was extended this spring.

If the team's struggles continue — and Cousins is a part of that with his league-high six interceptions — perhaps the Vikings front office will have to look long and hard what they want the future at quarterback to look like.

That's a question for the offseason. Let's see how the final 13 games play out.

This is one that got away. I knew Derrick Henry and the Titans would be tough, but I wish I was more confident about Cousins. Irv Smith, Jr., has to be smarter...penalties are a killer. Next week we get on track.

— Nicholas Balkou

No doubt the Titans play a tough brand of football. And the Vikings couldn't match that intensity for 60 minutes. Even though the Vikings were competitive, neither side of the ball could make a play late to help seal a win.

And you are also spot on about the frustrating penalties on Irv. Last week, it was an offensive pass interference that stalled a promising second-half drive. On Sunday, it was an illegal block in the back — on a 1-yard run, no less — that stunted another drive and allowed the Titans to get the ball back with ample time left for a late field goal.

It hasn't been the greatest start to the season for Irv, who has hurt the offense with untimely miscues. He also wasn't targeted on Sunday. The strong sophomore season we all projected for him has not materialized yet.

Special teams are weak. Short/weak punts again, missed 2-point conversion and missed field goal. The missed FG was a direct result of falling for [Titans Head Coach Mike] Vrabel's tickytack gamesmanship and the resulting penalty on us, which screwed up the entire try.

Granted, we got the yardage back but then missed on our third line up for the attempt? Vikings are 0-for-1 on 2-point conversions that matter. Suggestion for new stat: don't track 2-point conversions that are attempted or made when the game is out of reach and the opponents don't really care — like all the 2-pointers we made against the Packers/Colts. It could give anyone a false sense of security or an untrue picture of our actual chances of making a 2-pointer.

— Jeff Ludwig

I'll start with the 2-point try, which the Vikings missed early in the fourth quarter. They had been successful on the previous four tries in 2020, but couldn't convert there.

Rudolph's great one-handed touchdown catch put them up five, but the thought was that another successful 2-point play would put them up seven. As it ended up working out, two Titans field goals meant a made extra point after the touchdown would have hypothetically tied the game at 31.

Onto the Vikings special teams units. The coaching staff shook things up Sunday, as K.J. Osborn was inactive for the first time. Ameer Abdullah handled kickoff returns (two for 47 yards), while Chad Beebe had a pair of fair catches on punt returns.

I think Britton Colquitt has been fine so far. If you're looking for reasons why the team is 0-3, I wouldn't start there.

But as for Bailey's missed kick, he's going to tell you he would like to have that one back. Did the penalties on both sides and the moving back and forth between a 49 and 54-yard try mess up Bailey? It probably didn't help matters, but again, that likely one that Dan wants back.

And on a day when you lose by one and the opposing kicker makes all six of his field goals, this miss is magnified even more. Such is life when you're 0-3 and the frustration is mounting.