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Minnesota Vikings Weekly Player Recap: Week 4, 2021

Browns take down the Vikes 14-7

Cleveland Browns v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Ugh, that was such a frustrating loss. The offense got off to a perfect start with a TD and then didn’t score another point for the rest of the game. The defense gave up tons of yards, but held tough in the red-zone allowing only 1 TD. They had a nice stop on the Browns’ first drive in the Red Zone and the TD they gave up was on a ticky tac hold on Eric Kendricks on the 4th and goal play. Mike Zimmer teams lose games like this year in and year out. It is the difference between good teams and not so good teams. The Vikings are a not so good team right now. Same record as the Texans, Jets, Giants, Dolphins, Colts, Eagles, and Falcons. Not a group you want to be associated with.


Kirk Cousins - 67 plays (100%) 20 for 38 for 203 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 9.8 QBR, 66.0 Passer Rating. I am torn on how to judge Kirk on this game. The OL was horrendous and I think the play calling didn’t help. However, I also think Kirk played a large part of it. The last two games Kirk was decisive and confident. Kirk got shook after that first drive and looked very skittish and indecisive. He wasn’t comfortable all day and it showed. He also seemed to be a tick slow at times. There was a play on 3rd down when Kirk took a sack with KJ Osborn running wide open. Kirk just didn’t recognize it fast enough. There were also several nice throws, but they were too few and too far in between. Cousins was pressured on 16 of his 41 drop backs (39%) that is not good and Kirk was not good under pressure (2 for 13 for 0 yards). The first drive the Browns only got 1 pressure and it was a successful drive, after that the OL didn’t hold up and Kirk didn’t handle it well. Arif Hasan tweeted out a chart that showed Kirk’s expected Completion percentage was 66.9 and his actual was 55.6. Kirk didn’t look the same as he had the last two games. The INT I don’t blame on Kirk. I thought Thielen should’ve fought harder for the ball. It was a shot play call and Kirk trusted his WR to make a play. PFF 64.0 is good for 3rd best on offense, but that is a low bar this week.


Dalvin Cook - 33 plays (49%) 9 runs for 34 yards, 2 catches for 10 yards (6 targets). Cook clearly wasn’t healthy Sunday. He came out for the first drive of the 3rd quarter and then say until late in the 4th. Cook had the first 17 yards of the 2nd to last drive and really got the two minute drill going. I think this game turns out differently if Cook was 100%, but he wasn’t close. As it was, the defense was keying in on him and there was little room to run. PFF 48.4 with Cook not looking himself

Alexander Mattison - 23 plays (34%) 10 runs for 20 yards. I said it last week and I’ll say it again, I think Mattison gets what is easily there and nothing more. If there is nice blocking for a 5 yard run, that is what he’ll get. I don’t think Mattison creates yards like you will see Cook and other top tier RBs do. Mattison is a good number 2, but this offense needs a strong #1 to be consistently good. PFF 54.2 for the fully healthy Mattison.

C.J. Ham - 21 plays (31%) 1 carry for 1 yard. Ham did his job on most of the plays. Nothing huge, but he seems to make the block that is needed on a play. PFF 74.2 is sadly good for 2nd best on offense.

Ameer Abdullah - 5 plays (7%) 1 catch for 2 yards (1 target) Not much action to speak of for Abdullah. His only touch was on the 3 and out right before half. He ran out of bounds again to bring up 3rd and long and stop the clock for the Browns. I have to wonder, does he receive no input from the coaching staff at that point? Does he ignore the orders to stay in if it is a short gain? Is no one taking charge from the Vikings at that point (QB, OC, HC, anyone)? It is the second time this year and no one really looks upset when it happens. It resulted in the Browns being able to get 3 big points right before half and I don’t know if it is Abdullah’s fault or someone else. These kind of mistakes happen so much I have to lean towards Zim and his staff.


Adam Thielen - 66 plays (99%) 3 catches for 46 yards (8 targets). 8 targets, but a lot of throw-aways. There was one play where I was disappointed in Thielen. It was the long pass after Cleveland kicked a FG to go up 14-7. Kirk trusted Adam to go up and make a play. Thielen got beat by the CB and didn’t fight back hard enough for the ball. INT and that is how you lose some trust from your QB. I’ve been begging Kirk to throw it up more often to our top WRs and this will not encourage that at all.

Justin Jefferson - 59 plays (88%) 6 catches for 84 yards and 1 TD (7 targets). The Vikings #1 WR seems to show up to play every week. He’s had a couple of drops this year, but none on Sunday. JJ had a TD called back for an illegal forward pass and a long 37 yard gain called back for offensive holding. Only incompletion to JJ was a deep pass on the last drive of the game. PFF 87.0 led the offense

K.J. Osborn - 42 plays (63%) 3 catches for 26 yards (7 targets) and 1 run for 10 yards. 30 of Osborn’s 36 yards were on the 2nd drive of the game the ended in an unsuccessful 4th down try. His other 6 were two 3 yard catches on 3rd and long. KJ did draw the DPI that kept the last drive of the game alive. He was clearly pulled from behind as he went up for the ball. I’d like to see KJ get more involved. His 20 yard catch on the 2nd drive was a beautiful toe tapping catch.

Dede Westbrook - 8 plays (12%) 1 catch for 17 yards (1 target) Westbrook’s one catch was a nice 17 yarder on 3rd and 13 to start the 4th quarter. I thought it was going to lead to something, but a punt a few plays later hurt.

TEs -

Tyler Conklin - 57 plays (85%) 4 catches for 18 yards (6 targets) Basically nothing useful from our TE spot this week. Conklin had one nice play for 14 yards the 2nd play of the 4th quarter. He had a drop on an earlier play. He had a hold on a deep pass to Justin Jefferson where he was expected to block Miles Garrett one on one. PFF 44.3

Brian Elefson - 14 plays (21%) just not impactful on the game. Not real passing threat. No real blocking advantage of having him in there.

Chris Herndon - 7 plays (10%) Hoping Chris is still getting up to speed and can make some plays after the bye.

OL - The OL in general was terrible all day. There were only 2 sacks given up, but Kirk was hit 10 times and pressured a total of 16 times on 41 drop backs. It’s the worst pass protection performance all year. 28.5 pass blocking grade from PFF for the group.

Rashod Hill - 67 snaps (100%) Darrisaw can’t get up to speed fast enough. Hill is one of the worst players on the team. He was outmatched on Sunday and the team was so desperate they tried to have Tyler Conklin block Miles Garrett one on one instead of Hill. Nothing positive coming from the LT spot ever. 10 pressures given up, PFF 40.8

Ezra Cleveland - 67 snaps (100%) Cleveland just couldn’t hold his ground on Sunday. He got pushed back constantly. He was not even good in the run game. Just a terrible showing. PFF 39.5 3 pressures given up

Garrett Bradbury - 67 snaps (100%) Bradbury has performed poorly all year. There is a constant push up the middle. He is only good when he can use his athleticism, but he is just too small to play against opposing NTs. PFF 60.0, 2 pressures given up

Oli Udoh - 67 snaps (100%) Oli was has been a pleasant surprise this year, but he wasn’t great on Sunday either. There was so much pressure coming from the DTs. Oli gave up 8 pressures on Sunday. He was better in the run game and there was room to run occasionally on the right side.

Brian O’Neil - 67 snaps (100%) It was a weak performance from the normally reliable O’Neil. He got smoked pretty badly on 3rd and 3 the 2nd to last drive of the game. Clowney smoked him and forced an incomplete pass. PFF 61.7, 4 pressures give up

DL - I thought the defense overall was really strong, but the DL was not. Way too much room to run.

Danielle Hunter - 65 plays (83%) 1 sack 7 total tackles. Hunter was all over the place helping stop screens and chasing down the runners. His pressure also led directly to Everson’s sack. Hunter’s sack ended the first drive of the 2nd half for the Browns. His assist on Everson’s sack was on a 4th down on the 1st drive of the game. Two big plays to end drives. Hunter seems to do it weekly. PFF 74.0

D.J. Wonnum - 53 plays (68%) I remember seeing Wonnum out there in between plays. Does anyone remember a play he as close to making? No production from DJ. PFF 52.3

Dalvin Tomlinson - 50 plays (64%) 1 “sack” with 0 TFL because the sack was at the line of scrimmage. Hard to be too positive of your NT when the run defense was so porous. He seemed to be the one bright spot up the middle. He just seemed to have little help. PFF 89.4

Armon Watts - 44 plays (56%) Watts was actually in on 7 runs stops for gains of 3 or less. That is pretty impressive on a day where the run defense was so poor. Watts is gaining playing time and deserving it. Took Pierce’s place when he went out injured.

Everson Griffen - 43 plays (55%) 1 sack from Everson as mentioned above. Thought Everson was ok outside of that play. When you allow that many rushing yards it is hard to get too excited about the DL. He’s certainly playing better than the other DEs outside of Hunter. PFF 82.0

Sheldon Richardson - 32 plays (41%) Richardson had a couple of nice pass deflections. The first was on 3rd and 4 to force a 3 and out on Cleveland’s second drive of the game and the second forced a field goal to keep the team within one score.

Michael Pierce - 21 plays (27%) Very disappointing game for Pierce IMO. There was room to run and he seemed to be getting pushed back on a regular basis. PFF 44.5 is the 3rd worst on defense. Pierce missed most of the 2nd half with an elbow injury.

Stephen Weatherly - 13 plays (17%) See my comments above about DJ Wonnum. These lower end rotational guys just aren’t providing anything for the Vikings.


Eric Kendricks - 78 plays (100%) Eric had a mixed back of results. 7 run stops on gains of 3 or less. No tackles for a loss, no sacks and no passes defense. No splash plays other than the controversial defensive holding on 4th and goal. PFF 37.5 is the worst grade I’ve seen Kendricks have in a long time and it made sense with the rushing total racked up by the Browns.

It seemed like the Vikes had another 4th down red zone stop until the flag came out late. To be clear, Kendricks did grab the jersey of the receiver and by rule it is a hold. It was an extremely slight hold that doesn’t get called the majority of the time. Changing point in the game and tough break for the team. Not the reason the team lost, but it was a contributing factor. Technically the right call, but I would think more times than not, that call doesn’t get made.

Nick Vigil - 78 plays (100%) How do you play so many snaps at LB and only have 4 total tackles against that many runs. Not the best effort from Nick this week. PFF 30.4

Blake Lynch - 36 plays (46%) 8 total tackles from Lynch with 3 of them being within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage. Nothing great, but solid play from the 4th LB on the depth chart.


Xavier Woods - 78 plays (100%) 10 total tackles today from Woods because the Browns were running all over the front 7. I thought Woods helped stop big plays and that is a huge part of playing safety. PFF 72.8, 5th best on defense

Patrick Peterson - 78 plays (100%) I thought he held his own well today against the passing attack of the Browns. Mayfield was really poor so it is hard to give him too much credit. Peterson isn’t the strongest run support CB and he’ll get dinged on a week where the opposing team racks up 184 yards on the ground. PFF 58.1

Harrison Smith - 78 plays (100%) 8 total tackles today from Smith because the Browns were running all over the front 7. I don’t remember Harry making his usual impact plays on Sunday either. No big stops, passes defensed or TFL. Just another game down.

Cameron Dantzler - 72 plays (92%) I thought Cam did extremely well after coming in for Breeland. I remember him giving up a chunk play to Higgins, but not much after that. Baker wasn’t accurate enough to beat even decent coverage on Sunday so it is tough not to give too much credit to the DBs. Hope to see Dantzler on the field against the Lions and not Breeland. PFF 74.5 good for 3rd best on defense

Mackenzie Alexander - 33 plays (42%)I thought it was a really strong game from Mac Alexander. He blanketed everyone he was covering. Might be his best game of the year.

Bashaud Breeland - 6 plays (8%) Breeland went off the field after giving up 21 yards on a 3rd and 10 the first defensive drive of the game. The announcement was he was ill. I am hoping to see Dantzler keep the starting spot over Breeland because Breeland is the worst rated CB in the league this year according to PFF.

Overall I though the defense played fairly well and the offense was pathetic. Baker missed a lot of open throws and really made this game closer than it should’ve been. 184 yards given up on the ground is way too many and the 4th straight game giving up 100+ yards rushing. Zimmer after the game said, “I’m not discouraged one bit about the lack of stopping the run. At the end of the day, they scored one touchdown against us.” While it’s true the Browns only scored 1 TD, it is also true they kept the ball away from the offense way too long and drove the ball multiple times down the field. That being said, the offense had plenty of chances to win the game. The defense gave up 3 points in the second half and that should win you a lot of games. I thought Klint Kubiak was really poor this week after a masterful game last week. Klint had to know the elite DL of the Browns was going to get pressure on Kirk. There were not enough play calls to get the ball out of Kirk’s hands quickly. That doesn’t mean it has to been screens every other play. I would’ve loved to see some slants to Thielen, JJ and Osborn. I can’t remember one slant. The quick drop passing game was non existent on Sunday and that was a huge part of the team losing. Kirk needed to be more decisive and Kubiak needed to help him with better play calls.

Last Week’s Player of the Week Results
Kirk Cousins 86%

Klint Kubiak 6%

Alexander Mattison 5%

Justin Jefferson 2%

Eric Kendricks 1%

Everson Griffen 0%


Who was the Vikes best player on Sunday?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    Justin Jefferson
    (425 votes)
  • 1%
    Dalvin Tomlinson
    (17 votes)
  • 24%
    Danielle Hunter
    (216 votes)
  • 4%
    Everson Griffen
    (39 votes)
  • 19%
    Jordan Berry (punter)
    (171 votes)
868 votes total Vote Now