The Minnesota Vikings started the 2021 regular season with high hopes. They felt that their 0-3 preseason record belied the fact that they had strengthened the roster enough to put them back in contention for an NFC playoff berth. They came crashing back to earth in a season-opening 27-24 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Keys to the loss were the inconsistent play of the offensive line, a porous secondary, and mental mistakes. On the last point, the Vikings committed 12 penalties during the game. This constantly put their offense in long-yardage situations.
Minnesota Vikings key defensive additions
So who were the newcomers that brought hope to the Minnesota Vikings faithful? They were defensive additions including; perennial Pro Bowler cornerback Patrick Peterson, safety Xavier Woods, defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, and linebacker Nick Vigil.
Also, several defensive starters were returning after missing the entire or sizeable parts of the 2020 season. Included in this group were stud defensive end Danielle Hunter, tackle Michael Pierce, and linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks.
Draft picks to bolster the O-line
On offense, they added draft choices Christian Darrisaw at left tackle and Wyatt Davis, who became their heir apparent at right guard. Also, added was wide-out Dede Westbrook who looked to assume the third receiver spot and also take over punt return duties.
Dissapointing game performances
So how did the newest Vikings fare? Peterson had a quiet afternoon at his corner position and Vigil played very well as evidenced by his 10 tackle performance. He also added a sack and a big tackle for a loss. Dalvin Tomlinson’s play was uneven, as the Vikings allow Joe Mixon to gain large chunks of yardage on the ground.
At the other corner position, Bashaud Breeland had all kinds of trouble with speedy Bengals rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Breeland was torched for a 50-yard score by Chase and was out of position all afternoon.
Woods was still plagued by some of the issues he had in Dallas last year. He was late on coverages and took some poor angles on incoming ball carriers. His play will certainly have to improve in the coming weeks as the Vikings face several high-caliber quarterbacks in the early part of their schedule.
On offense, Darrisaw missed all of training camp and did not play in a preseason game due to a groin injury. Rashod Hill has been starting in his place and he played matador to Cincinnati defensive end Trey Hendrickson. Hendrickson had an aggressive rush and kept Kirk Cousins on his back all game long. Davis also missed some practice time due to an injury and the door opened for converted tackle Oli Udoh to take over the starting right guard position.
Udoh struggled as did everyone else on the line not named Brian O’Neill. And Westbrook, In a recurring theme missed most of training camp recover from last year’s ACL surgery. K.J. Osborne has stepped in nicely as the third receiver, at least for right now.
Minnesota Vikings look ahead to the Cardinals
The Minnesota Vikings hope to rebound this week against Arizona on the road. They’re sure to be tested by the Kyler Murray-led Cardinals air attack which last Sunday lit up the Tennessee Titans defense to the tune of 289 passing yards and 4 scores. Significant signs of improvement in the secondary and offensive line would certainly ease the pressure on coach Mike Zimmer and his staff.