3 things the Vikings need to improve heading into Week 9
By Nik Edlund
Red Zone Offense
The Vikings only put up 19 points against a Redskins defense that ranks in the bowels of the NFL this season. A big reason for Minnesota’s lack of points was because they weren’t able to convert scoring chances in the red zone to touchdowns and they had to settle for field goals.
Luckily for the Vikings, Washington is a team that can be beaten by numerous field goals. But against a better opponent like the Chiefs in Week 9, Minnesota will have to score touchdowns to keep up with their opponent’s high powered offense.
There are a couple of reasons for the Vikings’ struggles in the red zone last week. The first and biggest reason was that Kirk Cousins’ favorite red-zone target, Adam Thielen, was on the sidelines.
Cousins loves looking in Thielen’s direction when Minnesota is inside their opponent’s 20-yard line. Thielen is a master at catching the corner fade route and Cousins always puts it just where only he can catch it. Without that aspect of the offense, the Vikings sputtered to get six more often than not last Thursday.
Another issue was just the overall play-calling. Minnesota offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski didn’t take a lot of shots down the field as he seemed more than content to run the ball and play it safe. He worked Dalvin Cook a lot inside the red zone and the Redskins were up to the challenge, for the most part.
With Thielen back and the team knowing they’ll need to get touchdowns and not field goals, this is an issue that will likely go away in Week 9. Stefanski will be more aggressive in his play-calling and Cousins will have his favorite red-zone target back in the fold.