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Lunchbreak: ESPN Breaks Down Vikings Offensive Struggles Against Bears

The Vikings couldn’t get going against the Bears Sunday afternoon and fell to 2-2 after a rough loss to a divisional opponent.

ESPN’s Courtney Cronin broke down the disappointing game at Soldier Field, which she said “continued its reputation as the House of Horrors” for the Vikings. She wrote:

The Vikings offense was put in position against a thinned-out defensive front to capitalize in ways it might not have been able to had the unit been at full strength. But it didn’t. The run game was nonexistent. The limitations of Minnesota’s offense, centered on quarterback Kirk Cousins, present this team with a conundrum it has yet to solve.

[…]

The Vikings QB was sacked six times on [42] drop-backs and failed to execute important plays that could have sparked life into this offense, like overthrowing Adam Thielen from a clean pocket on third-and-10 that would’ve put the Vikings on the board early after the wide receiver burned his defender and had a clear path to a touchdown.

Cronin noted the lack of throws downfield to receivers, save for the initial deep ball to Thielen, earlier in the day.

It’s hard to believe that no one else is open downfield and that the only option is to repeatedly check down to the fullback or running back in the flat, but Cousins shied away repeatedly from taking deep shots, outside of a 39-yard throw to Diggs that was all for naught after the QB was strip-sacked a second time on a promising drive that ended in a punt. Whether he didn’t have time under pressure or failed to do so for other reasons, it felt as if Cousins wasn’t looking downfield when it could have benefited the offense the most.

PFF points out highs, lows in Vikings Week 4 performance

Following Sunday’s slate of games, analytics site Pro Football Focus broke down each contest in its “PFF ReFocused” series.

The PFF analysis team pointed out highs and lows from the Vikings performance at Soldier Field. They wrote that Cousins was “under duress almost all game, but when he had clean pockets, he wasn’t accurate.”

PFF said that tackles Riley Reiff and Brian O’Neill “had their hands full” with Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack and that the offensive line unit overall “had a rough time run blocking.”

The Vikings run game didn’t ever get into a rhythm, totaling just 40 yards on the ground after dominating through the first three weeks.

PFF highlighted some bright spots on Minnesota’s defense.

The Vikings edge rushers were very disruptive in rushing the passer. Both Danielle Hunterand [Everson] Griffen won off the edge frequently, flashing a spin move that was particularly effective. They added a couple of stops each in the run game as well, including tackles for loss.

Linebacker Eric Kendricks was active in run defense, often first to the ball carrier. He made a handful of stops and didn’t miss a tackle in doing his part to keep the Bears running game in check.

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