Playing for pride: Grading Minnesota’s game vs. New Orleans | West Central Tribune

Playing for pride: Grading Minnesota’s game vs. New Orleans | West Central Tribune

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Big offensive plays: To try to keep up with the New Orleans offense, Minnesota needed big plays. The offense generated 15 plays that went for more than 10 yards, including three runs. It wasn’t just the usual suspects, either, as the Vikings got big chunks of yardage from guys like Bisi Johnson and Ameer Abdullah. Gary Kubiak’s offense did well at changing up looks to keep the Saints off-guard — and did so without turning the ball over.

Scoring: Scoring 33 points is normally going to be enough to earn a win. Kirk Cousins did a good job distributing the ball to his steady receivers and his emerging tight ends. Dalvin Cook didn’t have his usual 100-plus yards on the ground, but the offense didn’t appear unbalanced until the game was out of hand. The offensive line held up their end of the bargain more than past weeks, too. It would take a lot of mental gymnastics to place the blame for Friday’s meltdown on the offense.

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Run defense: Simply put, professional football players should not allow anyone to score six touchdowns in a single game. At a certain point, you have to decide to stop Alvin Kamara and make the future hall of famer at quarterback beat you through the air. (To be fair, Drew Brees was doing that on top of Kamara’s big day.) The coaches need to stack eight or nine players in the box, and those players need to wrap up and make tackles. As head coach Mike Zimmer put it, this defense is bad, easily the worst during his tenure with the Vikings.

Injuries: Zimmer also took the opportunity during his postgame interview to point out all the pieces missing from his defense. Danielle Hunter is supposed to be around to generate pressure. Michael Pierce is supposed to clog up running lanes up the middle. Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Eric Wilson are supposed to provide the lateral quickness at linebacker that most teams can only dream about. Mike Hughes is supposed to continue his growth and be a leader of the very young cornerbacking corps. Zimmer was clear in not calling the injury situation an excuse, but this is not the personnel he expected to have on the field.

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