Vikings Drop Fourth Straight, Lose NFC North Division Lead

The Vikings continued their downward spiral this past Sunday falling to the Washington Redskins 26-20.  It was the team’s fourth consecutive loss, and the Detroit Lions have now taken over as the NFC North division leader.  Here’s a recap of Sunday’s heartbreaker.

Defensive line struggles to get to Cousins

The success of the Vikings defense starts up front with the defensive line getting penetration.  Something we have rarely seen over the last four weeks.  Whether this is a result of offenses utilizing max-protection, or we are just failing to win the one-on-one battles in the trenches, it has become blatantly obvious that we are not getting to the quarterback at the same rate that we had come to expect through the first five weeks of the season.

Kirk Cousins took full advantage of the time he was getting in the pocket and picked the Vikings defense apart on multiple drives that turned into scores.  If the defensive line continues to struggle, look for this to become a trend as there are more than a few quarterbacks capable of doing the same thing if given the same sort of time to find the open receiver.

Jake Long out for the season

Left-tackle Jake Long will likely be out for the season going down with an Achilles tendon injury in Sunday’s contest.  Long had been signed by the Vikings to replace starting left-tackle Matt Kalil who was put on IR earlier in the season.  This is another major blow to a team that has already been decimated by injury midway through the season.

What makes this development even more disheartening was the fact that Long was just beginning to turn things around and play well.  Now the Vikings will be forced to shift linemen around to different positions on the line that they may not be comfortable playing, like guard Alex Boone moving to tackle as he did with the 49ers when left-tackle Joe Staley went down. However they end up maneuvering the line, it is hard to envision a scenario that brings any optimism to the possibility of improvement.

Bradford-Diggs connection carries offense

The Bradford to Diggs connection that took off in the second week of the season against the Green Bay Packers had been slowed down dramatically in the weeks that followed due to an injury sustained by Diggs.  These last couple of weeks have seen the connection reemerge with Diggs totalling 26 catches in two games, making Diggs the first player in NFL history to haul in 13 receptions or more in two consecutive games.

If the Vikings hope to be in a position to win any of the games remaining on their schedule, this connection will need to continue to be the focal point of this offense as we put ourselves in the best position to win when Diggs is getting fed.

Short-yardage problems continue

A poor offensive-line can provide many problems for an offense.  Whether it is failing to give the quarterback enough time to get rid of the ball, or the inability to create running room to pick up the necessary short-gain.  In Sunday’s case it was the latter as time and time again the Vikings offense failed to pickup the short-yards needed to keep the chains moving and put themselves in a position to score points.

Barring some sort of miracle, I cannot see this situation getting better as players are getting moved around left and right preventing any sort of stability.  Losing Long for the season makes matters even worse.

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