MINNEAPOLIS -- It took two embarrassing losses for Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer to channel his inner Yogi Berra.
"I don't know. I've been telling them we can't start winning until we stop losing and right now we are doing things to beat ourselves with the turnovers and sacks and safeties and penalties on third downs on defense," Zimmer said. "I'm just not going to deal with it anymore."
Kirk Cousins finished with a 15.9 passer rating, the worst completion percentage (42.3) and most interceptions (three) he's thrown as a Viking on what he deemed "a poor day."
It was most certainly that for Cousins and the offense, but also for a defense that has lost its identity.
The Vikings don't have much of an identity because they're not a very good team. And it's taken two whole weeks to figure that out.
"This team has kind of been built on controlling the time of possession, playing great in the red zone and on third downs, and we haven't been doing that very well," Zimmer said. "We're going to have to get back to work and try to figure out what's wrong because the identity of this team has not been what it has been for the last six years."
The Vikings have demonstrated that they aren't capable of playing like that anymore. Not with a defense that needs to concede to a full-on rebuild for the 2020 season. Not with an offense that is incapable of carrying the struggling defense.
Cousins completed 11 of 26 passes for 95 net yards. He forced throws to Adam Thielen and failed to get others involved until it was too late. The offense's struggles in Week 2 drew similarities to the way it lost to the Packers in Week 1, complete with a second-quarter safety and the same shortcomings.
"I don't know, it's hard to compare the two games," Cousins said. "I think they're each their own entity, so I view them as separate games."
In the offseason, the Vikings let nine defensive players walk as free agents and traded away disgruntled wide receiver Stefon Diggs. They doled out extensions to Cousins, Zimmer, general manager Rick Spielman and running back Dalvin Cook. They spent considerably to sign nose tackle Michael Pierce to shore up their run defense. When Pierce opted out and Minnesota realized its pass rush was in trouble with an injured Danielle Hunter, the Vikings traded for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. That was a move that made them a top-10 defense. On paper.
Plenty of these moves reflected a win-now mentality. But just two weeks into the 2020 season, it's worth wondering if many of these decisions made sense.
This doesn't feel like a team that has offensive continuity. This is not a team that has shown it can overcome the wild swings of its quarterback play, especially when it shipped off the playmaker who made his QB look like a star during their time together.
This is not a defense capable of pulling off miracles with a patch-work defensive line that was gashed by the Colts' rushing attack or a group of young corners that is going to develop quickly.
This doesn't appear to be a team that is set up to be competitive this season.
That soft rebuild should have been a full-on, tear-it-down-to-the-studs restructure to build for 2021 and beyond.
The Vikings haven't done themselves any favors in their two bad losses to open the season.
Outside of a handful of productive rushes on a solid first drive that resulted in a field goal on Sunday, Cook didn't get much run until the second half when the game was already out of reach. He finished with 14 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Minnesota just made Cook the sixth-highest paid running back in the NFL. So why not play him like he is?
"It's hard as a running back in the games," Cook said. "We get out of control and out of reach and got to play from behind. You kind of get off schedule and you don't get the carries that you need. It's just been those types of games for us starting off this season."
And it doesn't get any easier. Minnesota hosts a 2-0 Titans team in Week 3 followed by trips to Houston and Seattle before wrapping up with Atlanta at U.S. Bank Stadium before the Week 7 bye.
By that point, things could be so ugly that the season is totally written off. A quick turnaround is necessary despite how difficult this looks to fix for a team that doesn't appear to be ready to win now.
"It's coming to grips with the new normal," Cook said. "It's the new normal of how we got to play and that will sink in to us and we just got to go out there and ball. And right now we're not doing that. We're not taking advantage of the moments, we're not capitalizing, we're not making our own energy.
"We're not capitalizing on those big plays to make a game switch over to our game and take the momentum. We're not doing the little things, so we got to just focus and go back to work in practice on Monday and just correct it."