Late in the first half, as the Vikings were driving down the field, looking to put some points on the board before halftime, Kirk hit Justin Jefferson on a deep ball, with plenty of room for JJ to run and get some more yards. As he neared the red zone, Jefferson juked left to avoid Antoine Winfield, Jr., trying his best to get into the end zone and salvage a first half that was less than desirable for the offense. Winfield dove after him, getting just enough of JJ to bring him down around the 25 yard line. He was so close to breaking away and scoring a touchdown, one that might have broken the game open for the suspiciously clunky Vikings’ offense. Instead, Vikings fans were treated to three wonderful minutes of television that included:
- Jefferson losing his marbles after being tackled by Antoine Winfield, Jr.
- Cousins and Osborn collaborating on an interception at the goal line
- Jefferson absolutely demolishing a Buccaneers’ defender (despite being livid that the Vikings just got picked, I actually laughed out loud at this)
- Cousins losing his marbles after throwing an interception at the goal line
We didn’t know it at the time, but we would feel as much anger as Kirk and Justin did when Baker Mayfield put the game away for the Buccaneers. The Stock Market Report for week one follows.
Blue Chip Stocks
Justin Jefferson - Just another day at the office for JJ, who compiled 150 yards on nine catches. He almost had a touchdown and 20 more yards, as mentioned above, but it was still an excellent performance by the league’s best receiver. He only had 12 yards in the second half, but I would blame that more on play calling and lack of adjustments than Jefferson’s own performance.
Jordan Addison - Addison did exactly what the team wanted him to do. Good things are on the horizon for the rookie receiver who caught his first NFL touchdown on Sunday.
Danielle Hunter - And that’s why we kept him around, folks. One sack, one pass deflected, seven tackles, (two of which were for a loss) and an additional QB hit makes for a pretty solid performance.
Byron Murphy, Jr., Akayleb Evans, Meckhi Blackmon, Camryn Bynum, Josh Metellus, and Harrison Smith - That’s a lot of names, but the secondary outperformed their expectations in this game, especially in the first half. If the offense could stay on the field, the defense doesn’t get gassed by the fourth quarter, and the secondary can continue to perform as well as they did in the first half. The Buccaneers have two great receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who were limited to 66 and 51 yards respectively. It’ll be interesting to see how this group does against the Eagles on Thursday, but it was an encouraging outing nonetheless.
Ivan Pace, Jr. - Pace wasn’t perfect, but he was played 46 snaps and racked up eight tackles and a QB hit. For an undrafted rookie, that’s pretty darn good.
Harrison Phillips - The Bucs couldn't get going in the run game, and Phillips is a big reason why. Harrison turned in eight tackles and a batted pass. There have been a lot of questions about the interior defensive line and inside linebackers being able to stop the run, but they got the job done on Sunday.
Ed Ingram, Garrett Bradbury, and Ezra Cleveland - Something’s got to change here before I can fully believe in this team. Bradbury got hurt after a few plays, which is extremely concerning, especially considering they have a short week before facing the mighty Eagles defense. Ed Ingram was getting tossed around like a sack of potatoes, and what the heck was that arm fumble? Cleveland didn’t do anything to help his case, either. The line gave up nine QB hits, two sacks, and six tackles for a loss. I don’t know what their plan is, but if the interior offensive line doesn’t get fixed, Kirk is going to get hurt sooner than later.
Kevin O’Connell - This team didn’t seem adequately prepared, and that falls on the head coach. Offensive play calling was lackluster, which falls on the head coach. Last season, The Vikings got demolished by the Cowboys, and had a quick turnaround to face the a tough Patriots team on Thanksgiving, a game that they won, looking completely different than they did against the Cowboys. The wishful thinker in me wants to believe that O'Connell will rally his team and do the same against the Eagles this Thursday... Here goes nothing!
Kirk Cousins - Oh Kirk, what are we going to do with you? There were times when Kirk was making great decisions and great throws, and times when he made bad decisions and bad throws. I’m hoping it was just an inconsistent day for a guy who hasn’t played in game since January. We saw him get frustrated on the sideline, which is okay, but we’ve learned through the Quarterback documentary that Kirk works best when he’s not flustered. Kirk needs to shake it off and regain his confidence for Thursday night’s tilt against the Eagles.
Buy - The Vikings’ offense looked rusty and out of sync from not having played since January. The offense wasn’t all bad, and there were moments that gave us a glimpse of the fast, high yardage offense that we all expected coming into this game. But mistakes came at the worst times, killing drives that could have broken the game open for the Vikings.
Sell - They should have played starters in the preseason to knock off the aforementioned rust. Heck no. I’d rather they get off to a slow start than lose a starter to injury in the preseason. It’s not worth the risk in my opinion.
Buy - The Vikings needed to win this game. The Vikings have a tough road ahead, and most everyone expected them to beat an inferior Bucs team to give themselves a little cushion before facing the Eagles, Chargers, Chiefs and 49ers over the next few weeks. This loss hurts a lot, and now they realistically need to win at least two of those four games.
Sell - The Vikings needed to win this game. It’s a long season. Yes, come December, as the Vikings are jockeying for a playoff spot, we’ll look back and think about how much we would have liked to get a win against the Buccaneers. But, it’s not the end of the world. Now, the Vikings need to prove that they’re a playoff team by beating tougher opponents in order to climb in the standings. Depending on how the team responds, it could be a good thing that they lost a game that they always won last season.
Buy - The throwback uniforms are sick. Absolutely beautiful. Deep purple, gold-trimmed numbers, throwback logos around the stadium, even the cheerleaders had throwback uniforms. It was so cool!
Sell - Throwback merchandise costs way too much. I was at the Mall of America on Saturday, and as my wife and I approached the Vikings’ Locker Room store, I couldn’t help but to take a few minutes and browse the throwback apparel. It’s been a few years since I’ve really looked at buying a jersey, but I can’t remember a jersey ever being this expensive... The throwback jersey with stitched-on numbers and name plate runs about $180. Even a basic hoodie that has the throwback Viking helmet on it is $85. The hat that Brian Flores was wearing? $46. I didn’t buy anything.
Thanks for reading this week’s SMR. Share your own assessment in the comments.