Another prime time game on the road, another chance for Kirk Cousins to get that monkey off his back. What are the odds he accomplishes that against a very good Dallas Cowboys team?
Not very good if the interior of the Vikings offensive line continues to crumble as they did last Sunday. Cousins can be awesome when he’s got time and a clean pocket but he panics under pressure.
Offensive Line Play
The vikings have improved on the offensive line this year but unfortunately, the middle of the line–Pat Elflein and Garrett Bradbury in particular–remains a glaring weakness.
It’s tough as an ordinary fan to accurately assess offensive line performance because there are so many variables that are not obvious from watching video of the game.
We don’t know, for example, what assignments a given lineman has on any given play, so we can’t be 100% certain in assigning blame for a breakdown.
Communication, a huge aspect of offensive line play, is unknowable from watching TV.
But some things are clear from watching the tape:
- It is clear a mistake was made when offensive linemen fall down without blocking anyone.
- It is obvious when a lineman whiffs on a tackle.
- It is obvious when a lineman is overpowered by a defensive lineman.
- It is clear when a lineman gets beat on a swim move.
But since there are so many variables we cannot see just from watching, it is nice to hear actual professional offensive lineman diagnose that aspect of the game. That’s where former Vikings lineman Alex Boone comes in.
In this segment of Purple Daily with Skor North‘s Matthew Coller, Boone examines some of the challenges the Vikings will face Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys formidible defensive front and the line’s failure to properly execute cut blocks against the Chiefs.
Between Boone and Coller, could you possible say “dude” more in nine minutes? I think not.
With Adam Thielen out, it’s clear the Cowboys will focus on shutting down Stefon Diggs and Dalvin Cook and invite Cousins to find Treadwell.
Will Josh Doctson find the field this week? I’m intrigued though I’m not expecting much.
Hopefully, Boone will prove correct and Irv Smith Jr. and Olabisi Johnson will have a big game on Sunday. I certainly put those two ahead of Treadwell and Doctson in terms of playmaying ability.
Defending The Cowboys
I’m not optimistic about the Vikings ability to contain the Dallas offense.
Defensive tackle Linval Joseph has been declared out for this game, so that makes it all the tougher to bottle up a running game driven by a superb offensive line and the second best running back (behind Dalvin Cook, of course) in the league in Ezekiel Elliott.
But that’s what the Vikings need to do. Stop Elliott, keep Dak Precott in the pocket and force him to throw under duress.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper is questionable, so the Vikings may have caught a break there but even so, we’ve watched Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes get picked on all year, so it might not even matter.
I would not be surprised to see even more playing time for Mike Hughes nor would it surprise me to see Holton Hill get substaintial snaps on Sunday.
Here’s Pete Bercich‘s breakdown of Dallas. (I’ve cued it up to spare you the insufferable Paul Allen‘s intro. You’re welcome.)