By HCR Staff | Dec. 12, 2018
There were several things that went wrong for the Minnesota Vikings in their loss to the Seattle Seahawks on “Monday Night Football.” The headline snapshot of this game will show Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner’s illegal field goal block, but this wasn’t nearly as important due to the Situational Call of the Week that took place earlier in the fourth quarter. Player execution was mostly responsible for the Vikings’ poor performance, but bad coaching was guilty as well. No one can expect players to execute when they are put in situations designed for them to fail. This week’s Situational Call is an example of that.
It was an epic poem for the Vikings offense to move into Seattle territory. They failed to execute on third down no matter the distance, and didn’t cross the 50-yard line until the second half. Once they crossed, they immediately faced a fourth-and-1 and were stopped.
Seattle’s defense was strong as steel and fast as lightning that night, but the Vikings defense kept the game close. The Vikings themselves stopped the Seahawks at the goal line on a Russell Wilson blunder at the end of the first half. He blindly threw the ball back across the field while scrambling and was intercepted.
Keep those two plays in mind along with the Vikings inability to move the ball, and the Situational Call seems even more puzzling.
The Vikings finally put together some chunk plays and drove the ball to the Seattle 5-yard line with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. After two short runs and an incompletion, the ball was at the 1 on fourth down. Seattle was only ahead 6-0, so a field goal would cut the lead in half with nine minutes left in the game. Going for it and failing would put the Seahawks in poor field position, but a stop would also fuel one of the loudest crowds in the country. Zimmer chose to go for it and, despite an open WR Adam Thielen, Kirk Cousins targeted TE Kyle Rudolph and the pass fell incomplete.
As mentioned, lack of player execution can be blamed for most of the night, but not in this case. This was entirely on the coach’s decision. Sure, Cousins chose the wrong target, but it’s unrealistic to expect him to pick out his pass since he’s faced pressure all night and CenturyLink’s roars were pouring down on him.
This was a strongly ill-advised call based on the Vikings’ offensive struggles and failure to convert a fourth-and-1 earlier.
A couple of interesting notes regarding the decision and the loss. ESPN analysts Jason Witten and Booger McFarland disagreed with each other during the live broadcast on the decision. Witten supported Zimmer’s decision, saying the Vikings should take advantage of a rare chance to score a touchdown in this game. McFarland argued that the Vikings needed to come away with points.
As for the Vikings brain trust, it was apparent that Zimmer and former OC John DeFilippo clashed over offensive philosophies. Zimmer didn’t indicate who was responsible for the Situational Call of the Week, but frustrations mounted immediately after the game and DeFilippo was fired. DeFilippo was the fourth OC under Zimmer in four seasons and the second to depart before a season’s end. It is difficult to lead a team when the leadership is constantly changing or in disagreement.
It was an ugly display of the Vikings’ season-long issues coming to a head in one night. New offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and the Vikings will look to end their recent skid Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.