EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings on Sunday ran for just 96 yards, their second-lowest rushing total of the season.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer spoke with Twin Cities media members Monday afternoon and said "some miscommunication" accounted for part of the issues in the ground game.
"We went to the wrong guy a couple times. We over-thought it," Zimmer said. "We didn't finish well enough. There were a bunch of times we were on a guy and we didn't finish, and he came off and made tackles. We need to finish better."
Zimmer followed up on his postgame comments about throwing the ball "a little too much" and retaining more balance.
"I thought we threw the ball a lot early," Zimmer said. "We went three-and-out the first two series. [We talk] about starting fast, then we [start out with] three incomplete passes."
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins overthrew Dalvin Cook to open the game and subsequently targeted Adam Thielen and a double-covered Laquon Treadwell.
A reporter commented that had the throws been completions, the play calls may have been effective.
"Yeah, maybe," Zimmer said. "If we had thrown them better, caught them better."
Here are four other topics Zimmer covered during his session with media:
1. Falling short on first and second downs
During his opening statement, Zimmer listed a number of issues from the game, including the difference in third-down situations between the Chiefs and the Vikings.
"We had seven that were third-and-8-plus, and they had six that were third-and-3 or less," Zimmer pointed out.
Cousins said during his postgame presser on Sunday that Minnesota had a "really good short-yardage menu" in the playbook that never got used.
"We never had a third-and-1, third-and-1-and-a-half. And some games you get four or five of those, and it's going to make you feel a lot better about your third-down offense when really, if you're having third-and-1, it's just a lot easier than third-and-long," Cousins said.
Zimmer was asked if he could pinpoint any specific issue on third downs, and he responded, "We weren't good on first and second [downs] – it's pretty simple." He then added:
"We didn't establish a run game enough, we didn't get as much movement on them as we had hoped, and we didn't finish blocks. That was part of it."
2. Feeling out fourth-down decisions
The Vikings and Chiefs were both 1-for-1 on fourth-and-1 attempts Sunday afternoon.
Just before halftime and at the Kansas City 15, Zimmer opted to go for it rather than kick a field goal.
Cousins connected with rookie tight end Irv Smith, Jr., for a 4-yard gain and a first down. Unfortunately, three consecutive incomplete passes put Minnesota at fourth-and-10 on the 11, and the Vikings settled for a field goal anyway.
In the Vikings last game, a win over Washington, the Vikings converted just once on three fourth-down attempts. Zimmer said Monday there are a lot of factors that go into make the decision to go on fourth down.
"Part of it is … the team that we're playing, how we're playing the game, field conditions, the wind. Do I feel like we need to score more points? There's a lot of scenarios," Zimmer said. "Do we want to play field position?"
Is there an analytical element to it, or mostly instinct?
"Well, analytics says to go for it," Zimmer answered. "But I don't go by that, though."
3. A timeline – or lack thereof – on Thielen
Receiver Adam Thielen started at Kansas City after missing the previous week with a hamstring injury.
After only a few plays, however, Thielen left the game with that same injury and did not return.
Zimmer is unsure what the timeline will be for Thielen's return.
"Whenever the doctors say he's ready, then he's ready," he said.
Asked if there's concern that the injury could nag in a similar fashion to Cook's hamstring injury last season, Zimmer reminded that every situation is different.
"It really wasn't a bad hamstring [injury] when he first hurt it," Zimmer said. "Obviously, we [did an MRI] and all those things. It really wasn't a bad grade."
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster for the 2019 season.
4. Observations on the offensive line
As with many areas of the team, Minnesota's offensive line had ups and downs during Sunday's game.
Zimmer didn't specifically comment on any one player but said that "some guys did good, and some guys should have done better."
"Every play, somebody is doing good and somebody is doing not as good," Zimmer added. "I mean, there's lots of times where we might have had them blocked at the point of attack and we didn't get to the backside, or vice versa."