According to Zimmer, the Packers were playing a shell defense where they basically begged the Vikings to run the football. But instead of putting the ball into the hands of three-time Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook, Kubiak started getting a bit too pass-happy.
“We ran the ball nine times yesterday and two quarterback runs. So we ran 11 times in the whole course of the ballgame,” said Zimmer, when speaking with media members on Monday. “…My frustration is our best player is either [Justin] Jefferson or Cook, and we’re playing with a backup quarterback and—no offense to Sean [Mannion]—we’re throwing the ball 45 times. …At halftime I mentioned we needed to run the ball because we had 30-something yards at halftime.”
Mannion was making his first meaningful start under center since 2019, and he finished the game throwing 22-of-36 for 189 yards and one touchdown. He even led the team with 14 rushing yards.
There’s no question that Cook should have been more involved. He was arguably their best player on the field on a night when they were playing without Kirk Cousins (reserve/COVID-19 list). It’s pretty inexcusable that he’d finish with nine carries for 13 yards and three receptions for no receiving yards.
Kubiak’s questionable play-calling is just one item on a long list of things that went wrong for the Vikings.