The Minnesota Vikings have lost their first two games of the season. Head coach Kevin O’Connell knows the reasons and takes the blame.
Two games, two losses: The Minnesota Vikings have got off to a false start in the new NFL season. After losing the season opener in their own stadium surprisingly with 17:20 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they followed up with a 28:34 against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Thursday Night Game of week two.
Yet quarterback Kirk Cousins actually had a really strong game with 364 passing yards and four touchdown passes. “Kirk definitely played well enough to win the game,” said head coach Kevin O’Connell.
The fact that Minnesota still started the season with two losses has one main reason: fumbles.
Four fumbles, all of which resulted in a loss of the ball, occurred against the Eagles. Key players Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson were also each responsible for one of those turnovers.
With the first two games of the season being very close and only lost by one score, the ball losses specifically may have been the difference between winning and losing.
Seven fumbles in two games
“You lose the turnover battle 4-1. We had 7-1 turnovers in the two games and lost by a total of nine points to two playoff teams last season,” O’Connell recaps the facts and is self-critical.
“It’s clear I need to coach better considering what we talk about every day. Ball security is a big focus in our football philosophy. I definitely have to do a better job.” Because one thing is clear, he said, “We don’t have a realistic chance to win the games if we play the way we started now.”
All four fumbles had consequences on the game’s outcome. The ball loss by Jefferson, who otherwise had a strong game with 159 receiving yards, was particularly bitter because he lost the ball just one yard from the opponent’s end zone.
“I blame myself for that,” Jefferson said. “To cause a fumble in the end zone when we need points and actually get into the momentum… I told my teammates it’s on me and it’s not going to happen again. “
The coach took the frustrated superstar to task. “No one is more torn up about it than Justin himself,” O’Connell said. “But he’s just a fighter. He plays a hell of a football game, he makes plays and tries to do everything he can to win. Because at the end of the day, that’s what he cares about the most. “
The running game is a weakness
However, it would be wrong to pin the loss to the Vikings solely on turnovers. The running game was also a weakness. Alexander Mattison gained a measly 28 yards on eight plays. That was all Minnesota could do on the ground. By comparison, the Eagles ran for 259 yards.
The running game was also not a factor at all in the first game of the season against Tampa Bay with 41 yards. O’Connell takes the blame for that, too: “In my opinion, we’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got to coach them better. That’s on me. We’ve got to get back to where we find ways to run the football.”
The Vikings, who finished last season with a strong record of 13 wins and four losses, are already under pressure and should be desperate to put away their problems in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers.