Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Jul 25, 2011

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday during the offseason we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the 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 Remember to include your name and town on the email.


I was looking at the defensive line situation and was wondering about Brian Robison. I have watched him for the last two years, and I have noticed he seems to have good size and speed to play on the edge, along with a good motor. To me, he seems to be built in the Jared Allen mold. I have also seen him play inside at defensive tackle at times, which would tell me he also has good strength. With all this said, what, if anything, is keeping him from being a three-down starter for the Vikings?
-- Nate A.
Minot, ND

The defensive line has been an area of strength for the Vikings during Robison’s four seasons and as a result he’s not been able to crack the starting lineup with any regularity. Jared Allen and Ray Edwards have been steady starters at DE and then the Williams Wall has been in place at the starting DT positions for several years. But as Nate pointed out, Robison has become an important member of the defensive line and it’s his versatility – the ability to play both DE and DT – that’s really made him a valuable piece of the puzzle.

This year, though, Robison’s role could change and there’s a chance he’ll get a promotion to be the starting DE opposite Allen. Edwards is set to become a free agent whenever the work stoppage concludes and he’s been quite vocal about his desire to leave Minnesota. If that happens, Robison would be the logical candidate to enter the preseason as the starter. The left DE in the Vikings defense is required to be stout against the run as well as effective in rushing the passer, and Robison’s skill set is such that he can succeed in that role.

I have two questions regarding the upcoming season. First, Brett Favre has filed for retirement and it appears as though he is planning to stay retired. Do you think there would ever be a possibility of Favre joining the Vikings coaching staff as a quarterbacks coach? He is an incredibly smart player with tons of experience and his insights could be very beneficial to a couple of young QB's like Christian Ponder and Joe Webb. My second question comes based on the new proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement. What do the new free agency guidelines mean for the Vikings in terms of losing key players and possibly acquiring other key players?
-- Casey H.

I agree that Favre’s football experience and intelligence would allow him to be a valuable asset on a coaching staff that is trying to groom a young QB or two. But at this time I just don’t see the coaching profession appealing to Favre and I also think the Vikings already have the coaches they need to develop Ponder and Webb with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and with QBs coach Craig Johnson. Favre is retired from the game and will presumably want to enjoy his time off with his family, rather than coming back to an NFL facility to put in 80 hour weeks for half the year. Maybe somewhere down the line he’ll want to enter the coaching profession, but right now I don’t see that as even remotely possible.

The second question is tough answer at this point because the CBA hasn’t been ratified by the players yet, so all the details have not been released. But I can give you a rough guess – based on what others have been reporting about the new CBA – of which current Vikings will become free agents. My best guess is that the following players will be unrestricted free agents: WR Hank Baskett, OL Ryan Cook, DE Ray Edwards, DT Fred Evans, S Eric Frampton, QB Tarvaris Jackson, LB Ben Leber, WR Greg Lewis, K Ryan Longwell, WR Sidney Rice, CB Lito Sheppard, FB Fahu Tahi, CB Frank Walker and DT Pat Williams. The Vikings will also have S Husain Abdullah and LB Erin Henderson as restricted free agents.

Again, those two lists are not official and they are my best guess based on what NFL insiders have been reporting about the new CBA.

A lot has been said about pursuing LB Mark Herzlich in free agency. I think that would be great, but what do you think the chances are of the Vikings looking at S DeAndre McDaniel or DT Ian Williams? If we lose Ben Leber, we have a pretty deep linebacker corps to draw from, but if we cut Madieu Williams we could use a replacement and McDaniel seems to be a pretty good, opportunistic safety with great hands. For selfish reasons, I’d like us to take Ian Williams simply to keep the “Williams Wall” going for a while longer.
-- Robb S.
Cloquet, MN

The names Robb brought up are players who went undrafted last April and will be free agents once the work stoppage ends. College free agency is an important part of the offseason and we haven’t had it yet because of the work stoppage.

Right after the draft on the Blog, we took a look at some of the better players that went undrafted. Both Herzlich and McDaniel were on the list of defensive players that the Vikings could consider bringing aboard to bolster the roster. Check out the link above to read about McDaniel, Williams and several other undrafted college free agents who will soon be finding teams and, perhaps, making teams for the 2011 season.

What do you think about implementing a two tight end set? The Patriots ran it last season and had a lot of success with it and it seems to me that we have all the tools to have great success with Visanthe Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolph.
-- Sean W.

I think you’ll see this quite frequently and I think it will become the most effective if the Vikings can establish a productive ground game. If the ground game is productive, teams will stack up to stop it and the defenses will especially expect the run when the Vikings employ a two TE set. That would allow the Vikings an opportunity to use play-action to catch defenses anticipating the run and utilizing the TEs in the passing game.