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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Dec 17, 2012

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday during the season we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag feature. Although we can’t post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

To submit a comment or question to the mailbag, send an email to Mike Wobschall at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. Remember to include your name and town on the email.

 

Do you think that the Vikings will be able to continue their success on the ground with Adrian Peterson? At this point everyone knows he's coming but no one can stop him. I give lots of credit to him and to the team for execution on blocks and assignments. But how long can AP and the Vikings keep this running attack going? Will anyone be able to stop him?
-- Justin
Wisconsin

Peterson now has eight straight games with 100+ yards rushing and over those eight games he has a total of 1,313 yards, a 7.5-yard per-carry average, and nine rushing touchdowns. This incredible string of success for Peterson and the Vikings running game is not a month-long thing. It’s an over-half-the-season type of thing, and there’s no reason to expect anything different going forward. As Justin stated in his question, teams know what the Vikings are going to do, and Peterson still finds a way to put up huge numbers.

Now, next week is another challenge for the Vikings because they’ll hit the road to face the NFL’s fifth-ranked rushing defense – the Houston Texans. They have allowed just two 100-yard runners this season and the longest rush they’ve allowed is just 28 yards. Those are impressive numbers, and they’ll try to continue their success vs. the run against an impressive runner. It will be fun to watch.

If someone looked at the stat line, they would say Christian Ponder was outplayed by Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. However, if you watched the game, it was clear that Ponder was the better quarterback of the day (even though he threw less than 1/2 the attempts). Most would call this game efficient; I would call this game effective. How do you feel about Ponder's play this game?
-- Chaz H.

For the second consecutive week I came away from a Vikings game encouraged by the play of Ponder. But there’s still a difference in how I feel about his play in both games. In last week’s win over Chicago, I thought the Vikings did a great job of game-planning the offense around Ponder – doing things to protect him and relying heavily on the running game. In this week’s win over St. Louis, Ponder was a part of the machine. He was a part of the reason the Vikings won. On the Vikings first drive, Ponder was three-of-three for 38 yards and he had two rushes for eight yards, including the five-yard touchdown run on 3rd and goal. That drive also included a huge throw by Ponder on 3rd and 14, and then the Vikings also converted on 4th down because of a three-yard scramble by Ponder.

When all was said and done, Ponder finished going 17 of 24 for 131 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and a passer rating of 83.9. It was a solid performance from Ponder, and it was the kind of performance that, in concert with our running game, will lead to success for the Vikings on a consistent basis.

Another terrific victory. Wow, Adrian Peterson is an absolute beast. I noticed that we currently stand as the 6th seed in the NFC, but our record is tied with Dallas, Chicago, and the NY Giants. What are the scenarios of us making the playoffs other than winning out? Could we still lose another game and make the playoffs?
-- Derek
New York

With two more weeks still to play and only three teams having clinched spots in the NFC, there are too many possible scenarios to go over at this point. The bad news is that Dallas, New York, Seattle and Washington all control their own destinies – if any of them go 2-0 over the final two weeks, they are in.

The bottom line is the Vikings have to focus on winning their next game against Houston and hope for some help (for a change) from teams playing the Cowboys, Giants, Redskins and Seahawks. My estimation at this point is that another loss would make it extremely difficult and unlikely for the Vikings to get in, but that with a pair of wins to close the season the opposite would be true.

While the Vikings have improved in pass defense, they seem undisciplined at times. Bradford kept making deep throws down the middle of the field and to the sidelines. I was watching the game from my home and kept saying they have to protect the sidelines and be aware of the throws down the middle, and they never adjusted to it. What are they going to do to fix that?
-- Noah P.

I'm not sure I'm seeing eye-to-eye with Noah on this one. I do realize there were times Bradford found open receivers. But we have to remember, the other team is getting paid to make plays, too. Sometimes the other team/player just makes a better play. I came away from the game mostly excited about how the Vikings defense played. A lot of St. Louis' second-half production was due to the Vikings playing a conservative style of defense because they had such a large lead. I know fans are annoyed with that strategy, but more times than not it works. The Rams had a seven-minute scoring drive in the second half. When you think about it, they spent 25% of the second half on one scoring drive when they needed four scoring drives to get back in the game. The odds are in the defense's favor when that happens.

Kudos to Adrian Peterson and especially to Christian Ponder. Ponder looked less like a deer in the headlights and more like a young quarterback with potential. How much did that scramble for the game’s first touchdown boost his confidence?
-- Brian
Sturgis, SD

I do think there’s something to be said for that first drive setting the tone for Ponder over the course of the game. He’s had an up-and-down first couple of seasons, at some times looking like the future and at other times looking like a struggling young player. On the game’s first drive, he looked calm, collected and calculated, and he staked the Vikings to an early lead. I do think that five-yard scramble for a touchdown boosted his confidence, as did the early completions and the clever play-calling by Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave, who mixed in some play-action passes early to give Ponder some rhythm and then remained committed to the run with Peterson despite some early struggles.

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