After a 90-second opening statement Monday at the TCO Performance Center in Egan, during which Vikings coach Mike Zimmer touched on everything from the season-opening defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals, he himself spoke out on the same issue that was Topic of conversation just 24 hours ago.
“We just have to clean up the penalty,” he said. “You have 10 penalties in the first half and you put yourself in a bad position where you have to bowl. It’s not how we are made. ”
In all, the Vikings whistled for 12 penalties for 116 yards, and it could have been more had Bengal not denied some of the others.
Those penalties kept the Vikings consistently below and behind distance markers, which explains why they ended up throwing the ball 50 times in the game, running only 22 times.
The opening drive was a perfect example as the Vikings surrendered 25 yards into a penalty, setting up a third and long position, and eventually forcing them to steer the ball away from the Bengals.
As the game progressed, you almost felt bad for offensive coordinator Clint Kubiak. In his first game as an NFL play-collar, more than half of his playbook went out the window due to down and distance.
“I’ve been talking to him the whole game,” Zimmer said of Kubiak. “A lot of things came up during the game that we talk about. But when it is 3rd and 24th, there are not many calls.”
If the referee wasn’t calling a false start on fullback CJ Hamm, receiver KJ Osborne or tight end Tyler Conklin, they were calling every member of the offensive line to catch. In fact, the only player who didn’t blow the whistle for Holding was Brian O’Neill’s perfect tackle.
“We just have to get better with our feet,” Zimmer said. “If we have bad feet that leads to grabbing and reaching.”
This was especially the case with leftist Rashod Hill, who had a rough day trying to stop Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson. That said, Zimmer was quick to note that other members of the offensive line were also struggling with penalties.
“We had another penalty where we threw a boy down and then we jumped over a boy,” Zimmer said in reference to right guard Oli Udoh being called out for unnecessary roughness. “There’s another punishment that was silly.”
Asked specifically about his false starts, Osborne frustratingly chalked it up to his lack of attention.
“There’s no excuse,” Osborne said. “I must see the ball. I can’t hear it anyway. There’s no excuse. Just have to lock up.”
There were also punishments on the defense of the Vikings. What was particularly costly was Basaud Breeland being called for a 26-yard pass interference as defensive tackle Michael Pearce gifted the Bengals a free game by jumping offside.
“We just have to get rid of the mental errors,” said defensive end Daniel Hunter. “We cannot have punishment. Just focus on our assignment. It’s a game of who has the least mistakes. We just have to focus.”
That will be the name of the game going forward as the Vikings look to get back on the road against the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday.
“You’d never guess CJ Haim would ever jump in the first game of the game,” Zimmer said. “He will be the last man I think of. We have to do a better job this week focusing on the noise of the crowd and everything.”