Mike Zimmer has coached the Vikings for 120 regular season and playoff games. He has never seen a better offensive performance by his team than on Sunday.
In a 30–17 win over Seattle at US Bank Stadium, with Dalvin Cook running behind the star due to an ankle injury, the Vikings still covered 453 yards of total offense and received a nearly flawless play in 14. Converted to 9 third down. Quarterback Kirk Cousins. Later, Zimmer called it “the best offensive performance I’ve seen here in eight years.”
So, taking it another step, could this be the Vikings’ best offense in eight seasons of Zimmer?
“Potentially, probably,” he said on Monday. “Stay healthy and the offensive line keeps improving. I think we clearly miss Irv Smith (Jr). He is an excellent player. But (Tyler) Conklin has done a good job and we have got good receivers. We’ve done a good job. Just have to keep it up.”
It was a blow to the Vikings when Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury in the final pre-season game, but Conklin has taken over as the starting tight end and seems to have come into his own. Used to be. Conklin scored a career-high seven catches and 70 yards on Sunday in his fourth season.
“The sky’s the limit,” Conklin said Monday about how good a crime can be. “We just have to keep stacking them week after week.”
Minnesota is 1-2, but not because of offense. Proceeding into Sunday’s game against Cleveland at US Bank Stadium, the Vikings rank fourth in the NFL in total offense but 27th in total defense. They are the same ranking they finished with last season.
Although the Vikings had their highest offensive ranking in 16 years in 2020, there were still questions and concerns about the unit’s entry this season. Long before Smith lost for the season, the Vikings released Kyle Rudolph in March in a pay-related move.
Minnesota also released the left tackle Riley Reef for pay reasons, only for his expected replacement, rookie Christian Darissau, suffering a groin injury, cast doubt on the offensive line. And the Vikings have a new offensive coordinator in Clint Kubiak, who had never called a play this season before taking over for retired father Gary Kubiak.
The offense barely started the season well in the September 12 opener in Cincinnati, scoring no points, four penalties, and rolling the ball eight yards on his first three drives. The Vikings eventually advanced the offense, but still finished the game with 12 penalties in a 27–24 overtime loss.
Center Garrett Bradbury said, “The penalty got off to a rough start.” “We were just shooting ourselves in the foot. Coach Kubiak has done a great job in the first three weeks. We didn’t help him in the first game, but we all stood up here after week 1 and we were like, ‘This could be a big offense. We have players, we have coaches, we have plans. ”
Vikings has shown that last two weeks. Even in the 34-33 loss of Week 2 at Arizona, he made an offense of 419 yards.
Cousins is off to his best three-game start since making a regular debut with Washington in 2015, which included no interceptions in the first three games for the first time. Ranked as the third-best quarterback in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, he has completed 73.9 percent of his passes for 918 yards and eight touchdowns.
“I play with really good football players,” said Cousins, who completed 30 of 38 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday. “I think that helps. I also think Clint Kubiak is doing a phenomenal job. I think (quarterback coach) Andrew Janocco is doing a fantastic job.
The cousins have spread the ball around. His three touchdown passes against the Seahawks went to Conklin; Justin Jefferson, who caught nine passes for 118 yards; and Adam Thielen, who had six receptions for 50 yards.
The Vikings were balanced on Sunday even without Cook. Alexander Mattison started in his place and ran the ball 26 times for a career-high 112 yards. He also took six catches for 59 yards.
And then there’s the offensive line. Cousins was sacked three times in Cincinnati but has been sacked only once in each of the last two games.
“I thought they all did well,” Zimmer said of the starting linemen.
However, those who are committing crimes are not being affected by the recent success. Cousins and Bradbury both said that the Vikings should still do better in the red zone, and not settle for field goals.