4 improvements the Vikings need to make to beat the Saints

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins /
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(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Kevin Stefanski
(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Kevin Stefanski /

Better play-calling

This was one of the biggest head-scratchers the last time the Vikings starters took the field. The play-calling by Minnesota offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski against the Packers in Week 16 was just horrible. Maybe not having Dalvin Cook was a big reason why. But for whatever reason, Stefanski strayed from what has worked for the team all season long.

This Vikings team has lived by running the football to set up play-action all year. They also love to use screen passes and get their dynamic back in space.

Minnesota did little to none of this against Green Bay. It was evident from the first snap of the game that something was off with the Vikings offense.

Kirk Cousins was taking straight dropbacks and against the Packers pass rush, he didn’t stand a chance. Mike Boone was ineffective, but he wasn’t being used the way Cook usually was, as a screen pass wasn’t even called until the second half.

Stefanski also chose to get cute instead. He ran his version of the “Philly Special” that saw Stefon Diggs overshoot Cousins by about eight yards. Stefanski also called an end-around on third and short with Adam Thielen instead of just pounding it up the middle. It was truly bizarre.

Stefanski needs to get back to calling plays that showcase the strength of this team. Expect a heavy dose of Cook next Sunday, as both a rusher and a receiver.

There should be a plethora of play-action passes and deep shots to the star targets in Diggs and Thielen. Stefanski, overall, has had an excellent season calling plays. But he just needs to go back to what has worked in the past.