EAGAN, Minn. -- Vikings coach Mike Zimmer figures it’s time to get back to the basics on offense.
After a shaky performance in Sunday’s 25-20 loss at Chicago, Zimmer said Monday the Vikings “have too much volume” on offense. So what did he mean by that?
“Let’s just play football. …” Zimmer said. “Maybe we just need to focus a little bit on not trying to trick the other team quite so much.’’
On Sunday, the Vikings had a season-low 268 yards of total offense and 22 yards rushing, their second-lowest total of the year. They committed three turnovers.
“You want to add new plays every week and new plays and new plays and new plays,’’ Zimmer said. “If you’re not executing, it might be the best play in the world. Vince Lombardi might have designed it, but if you can’t execute it, then it doesn’t do you any good. Can’t protect for it or whatever it is.’’
Zimmer didn’t directly mention first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who calls the plays. The Vikings are 14th in the NFL in total offense and haven’t been as potent recently as they were earlier in the season. The Vikings (5-4-1) have averaged 21.3 points the past three games, two of them losses, after averaging 25.3 in the first seven.
“There’s times that we need to stick with it a little bit more,’’ Zimmer said of the running game.
Turnovers were an issue Sunday after Zimmer said he had preached all week about protecting the ball. Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw two interceptions and running back Dalvin Cook lost a fumble.
“I’ve asked several players if they’re listening to me or not or if they quit listening to me,’’ Zimmer said. “I didn’t ask them, ‘Did you?’ but, ‘Did these guys stop listening to me?’ And they said no.’’
Cousins completed 30 of 46 passes for 262 yards but was inaccurate for much of the game. Zimmer said pressure wasn’t a big issue since Cousins had “a lot of clean pockets,’’ but overall he expressed confidence in his quarterback.
“Other than the turnovers, I have a hard time faulting him,’’ Zimmer said of Cousins, who has thrown seven interceptions this season and leads the NFL with six lost fumbles.
The Vikings had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and two flags for unnecessary roughness.
In the second quarter, linebacker Eric Wilson was called for unsportsmanlike conduct because he said it was considered taunting to toss Chicago receiver Taylor Gabriel���s towel back at him after it had fallen off. Wilson said it was a “petty” call.
“I think the one on Eric Wilson was off base,’’ Zimmer said.
Kendricks was penalized for hitting Chicago running back Tarik Cohen out of bounds in the fourth quarter, and Smith got flagged for a fourth-quarter hit on Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
“(Kendricks) touched the guy, he was still in bounds, and then hit the white stripe and the guy kind of took a dive,’’ Zimmer said. “Harrison has got to pull off of the quarterback.’’
Asked about his penalty, Kendricks said, “I’m not a dirty player. I haven’t done that before. … You got to be smart.’’
After missing two games with a right knee injury, Vikings left guard Tom Compton returned against the Bears. But he didn’t make it out of the third quarter.
Compton was in for 36 plays before giving way to Danny Isidora, who was in for the final 31 snaps.
“I tried to do the best I could,’’ said Compton, returning from a sprained MCL. “I felt like things were going all right in the first quarter. Second quarter, I could kind of feel it coming on, and then by the time the third quarter hit, I just couldn’t really hold up, and I just thought we’d have a better chance to win if I came out, so I took myself out.’’
Compton said he didn’t feel “too great” Monday. He’s hoping, though, to be ready for Sunday night’s game against Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“Hopefully, with a week of prep, I’ll be good to go,” he said.
The Vikings were considered Super Bowl contenders before the season. Now, they’re in a fight to just make the playoffs.
After Sunday’s loss, the Vikings are 1 1/2 games behind Chicago (7-3) in the NFC North. If the playoffs started now, they would be the No. 6 seed in the NFC as the second wild-card team.
“We’re a good team,’’ Kendricks said. “We know that. It’s just about going out there and doing it. Quit talking about it. Just getting back to work, putting our hard hats on and no excuse. We’ve got to point the finger at ourselves, so we’ve just got to get the job done period.”
Safety Anthony Harris said the Vikings can’t dwell on Sunday’s defeat and must focus on Green Bay. The Packers (4-5-1) will show up at U.S. Bank Stadium in what looks to be a must-win situation.