The Minnesota Vikings season is now over after falling short at home against a beatable New York Giants team. Kevin O’Connell and his staff head into the offseason looking for a way to improve upon a 13-4 season that could have gone so differently. With the playoff run over before it started, there are more than a few things to be frustrated with from Sunday.
Minnesota welcomed the Giants to U.S. Bank Stadium having beaten them there less than a month ago. The atmosphere this time around was substantially different, and the noise was deafening after the stadium left plenty to be desired during December. Vikings fans showed up in droves to support the hometown club in hopes of an extended playoff run.
When the dust settled, there was never a point in which the Giants trailed, and there was only angst as to how the Vikings let it happen. Here are three frustrating takeaways from the loss.
Patrick Peterson, Again
The last time these two teams played it wasn’t a great matchup for the veteran cornerback. Patrick Peterson has had a very good season for Minnesota, but that matchup was not one to be proud of. Picking off Daniel Jones late helped to set up a game winning field goal, but without the turnover it would have been about how receiver Isaiah Hodgins worked him all game.
Peterson saw Hodgins again plenty on Sunday, and it was more of the same. Daniel Jones targeted Hodgins nine times and the Giants wideout pulled in eight passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. At this point of his career it’s not fair to expect Peterson to shadow a guy or be a shutdown corner, but you would certainly hope for better from your top option against one of the lesser wideouts he faced on the season.
Daniel Jones’ Legs
There wasn’t a ton of reason to suggest that Jones would run all over the Vikings on Sunday, but when he played them last month the spots were picked perfectly. Minnesota needed to incorporate more of a spy tactic coming into this game, and Ed Donatell seemingly had no answer for the opposing quarterback being on the move.
Yes, the Vikings did sack Jones three times, but he also ripped off 78 rushing yards on 17 carries. Despite Saquon Barkley being an extremely talented back, it was Jones that did much of the damage on the ground, and Donatell never changed anything to stop it. Seeing Jones extend drives and constantly elude Minnesota defenders was maddening.
An Obvious Need for Help
It’s beyond clear that the Minnesota Vikings need to overhaul their defense this offseason. Donatell should go, but whoever comes in needs better talent to work with. That said, it’s become increasingly clearer that Kirk Cousins doesn’t have another pass catching weapon.
Justin Jefferson was targeted only nine times in this game and put up a measly 47 yards. Adam Thielen was not the benefactor of the open opportunity, and neither was K.J. Osborn. Cousins has leaned heavily on T.J. Hockenson since he was acquired, but Kevin O’Connell’s offense needs another top receiver threat to help Jefferson.
It was a disappointing end to an otherwise good season, and it will be a long offseason trying to make it better a year from now.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.