1st Down: After five seasons of Kirk Cousins under center, it is pretty easy to see when he is rattled. The dump-offs to C.J. Ham and the behind-the-line-of-scrimmage, desperate pressure-escape heaves to Hockenson or other TEs are dead giveaways. From my perch at U.S. Bank Stadium I could see it all and immediately recognized this game would not be a Minnesota Vikings blowout over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Granted, the Vikes can still win those sorts of games (especially when piling up nearly 400 total yards)--but not when losing 3 turnovers (two of which in opposing territory). The loss can be boiled down to one stat column: Turnovers.
2nd Down: That being said, the game could also have been won with any rushing presence whatsoever. It didn't happen. Not with 41 total yards on the ground. Yuck. Clearly the "we'll be more efficient without Dalvin Cook's boom-or-bust pedigree" isn't working yet. Both Mattison and Chandler looked spritely and had some moments, but the problem (almost eternally, it seems, with this franchise) seemed far more that the offensive line wasn't moving any bodies out of the way. Simply put, this has to improve for the Vikings to be ANYTHING in 2023.
3rd Down: There were some positives to be taken from Week 1, and I don't want to go "sky is falling" after 60 minutes of football. Jordan Addison looked great, Justin Jefferson was his usual dominant self, and the defense looked rejuvenated (if a bit gassed by the endgame) for most of the contest. All good signs for the future.
4th Down: In a way, I think this loss is harder to take when looking at the standings and upcoming schedule than on performance alone. Clean up the turnovers and the Vikings beat Tampa going away. But now it'll be wheels-up for Philly in about 24 hours en route to Thursday Night Football against the Eagles for their home opener. Not the scenario an 0-1 team wants to face. But again, I'll search for a positive: no time to mope about the opening L might be a good thing. Get right back on the horse and try to steal a win that will need to happen eventually to even out the TB loss if this team wants to compete in '23.