Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Jun 6, 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.


How would defenses line up against a wild cat formation including Joe Webb, Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin? It seems a little more dangerous, but would force the defense into man coverage. If we manage to keep Sidney Rice around, one-on-one deep would be a no-brainer. The duo QB playbook could also be an option, the Jets managed to use Brad Smith and Mark Sanchez in a mix and have had success. If you are paying Joe Webb, don't sit him on the bench just to hide him from your competitors’ rosters. The kid has talent, let him shine!
Rapid City, SD

I’d be remiss to speculate on how defenses around the NFL would align if the Vikings utilized the wild cat formation in the way Matt described. But I do agree that such a tactic would be interesting to see and I can understand how having so many good athletes on one offense causes fans’ imaginations to run wild. At the same time, I think it’s important to remember that offensive mechanisms such as the wild cat are gimmicks, and while gimmicks can be effective they can also be detrimental to the offense if they are used to frequently or at the wrong times. With the offensive talent that’s on this roster, I think offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave will have a big enough challenge getting everyone the ball in traditional ways that elements such as the wild cat and dual-QB looks will be more occasional strategies rather than regular tactics.

With all of that said, though, I completely agree with Matt that Joe Webb’s talents must be utilized, even if he doesn’t win the starting QB role on this team. If Webb isn’t the starting QB, there’s a good chance he’ll be the backup. You don’t want to risk injury to your backup normally, but it will be just too hard for Musgrave and Co. to keep a talent such as Webb on the bench. I expect Musgrave will bring some creativity to the table in Minnesota and find effective and innovative ways to use Toby Gerhart, Harvin, Peterson, Rice, Webb and some of the other offensive pieces on the roster.

Two weeks ago or so Roger Goodell came to Minnesota to discuss the new stadium funding. When he left I got the impression that the NFL was going to contribute some money towards the new stadium. Have you heard anything regarding status of this funding? Do you know how this money would be used if the NFL actually does contribute to the stadium? For instance, could the money be used to close the gap on the funding for road improvements around the new stadium?
-- Owen

The NFL’s financial support toward a new stadium in Minnesota has already been factored into the Vikings $407 million commitment; it is not in addition to the team’s investment, rather part of it. The NFL is the only professional sport that offers teams finance support – not cash, but finance support – to help teams put together private financing for new stadiums. It is also subject to League approval and an ownership vote.

It looks to me the NFL is creating fines for defenses and creating more and more situations to levy fines against the players. It reminds me of government, and I am more turned off by this as a fan than some players wanting too much money and not understanding owners with big money will carry the day. To protect the players, I think we could invest plenty in the field surfaces. When the players hit the ground hard with their heads, it is always very bad. Add high tech to the gridiron field to absorb the energy with high tech materials and engineering. I think if you slow down the games some, you spare injuries on both sides. Just making less traction via shorter cleats is one answer. The defender may send it all to the receiver, and get more easily juked, so the defender will send less in order to do his job properly and not get burned. Do you not see the rule changes as giving more power to the Refs to determine games?
-- Robert L.
Irvine, CA

I understand your opinion Robert and I must say that I agree with much of what you’re saying. For those who don’t follow, NFL owners passed a few new rules at their annual spring meetings a couple of weeks ago. The rules pertained to player safety and you can read more details by clicking here. The one thing I’d add is that many of the head injuries we’re seeing lately occur because of head-to-head contact and don’t involve contact with the ground. So while the NFL and its teams will continue to invest in new turf technologies, more needs to be done beyond that effort to decrease head/brain injuries. While I am not for big government oversight either, I do see the need for the NFL to step in and continue to promote player safety. While it’s hard to deny that these new rules do in fact give more opportunity to the officials to have influence over the game, I also believe that the NFL’s objective in passing these rules is to promote player safety and I also believe in the integrity of the NFL’s officials.

I heard Christian Ponder is organizing team workouts. Do you know why C John Sullivan didn't make it? I know I heard C Brandon Fusco is there with Ponder. Any chance Fusco takes over the starting job from Sullivan? The center is important with timing. Any chance Ponder gathers Adrian Peterson and more players to join the workouts?
-- David N.

I can’t speak for Sullivan in terms of why he’s not at the workouts. I’d also question how much value there truly is for Sullivan or any of the other offensive linemen to be there. From a camaraderie standpoint, I can see the value in as many guys being there as possible. In terms of actual football usefulness, though, I’m just not sure it makes a big difference to have offensive linemen and defensive players working together with the offensive skill position players, especially when you throw in the possibility of injury or illness without NFL trainers and medical personnel/facilities available.

As for the starting center position, I don’t see Fusco taking the job away from Sullivan this year. In fact, I think Fusco is in a similar spot to what Sullivan was in back in 2008. The Vikings drafted Sullivan in the 6th round of the 2008 NFL draft and he sat behind an established starter (Matt Birk) for a year before competing for and winning the starting job in 2009. Fusco is also a 6th-round pick (from this year’s draft) and he’ll sit behind an established starter (Sullivan) before competing for more playing time in future years. And just as Birk was, Sullivan will be an excellent example from which Fusco can learn. I’m not saying that Fusco will follow Sullivan’s path and eventually overtake the veteran for a starting job. I’m simply saying that Fusco A) is in the same position that Sullivan was back in 2008 and B) has a great mentor to follow.

How important was it for Christian Ponder to lead the training group, for the team and as a future leader.
-- Anthony M.

This might sound a bit contradictory based on my answer to the previous question in which I questioned the true value of these player-only workouts, but I actually think it’s a great sign to see Ponder organizing the workouts. It says a lot for about the dedication, leadership and personality of a rookie QB to organize player-only workouts for teammates during a labor dispute. I know Vikings coaches are encouraged by Ponder’s ability and willingness to get these workouts going and I look forward to watching Ponder demonstrate some of the same leadership abilities once the work stoppage concludes and all the players are back together at Winter Park.

Leslie Frazier said the plan is for Tyrell Johnson to compete with Madieu Williams at safety. Frazier wants Johnson to step it up… and Frazier is willing to give him every chance to come through. Tyrell can play both safety positions and is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Why was Tyrell used so sparingly in 2010? Do you agree with Frazier that Tyrell has potential to be a starter? Is he healthy? Can he stay healthy?
-- Carl K. Blog commenter

I’d leave it up to Frazier or defensive coordinator Fred Pagac to comment on the reasons for Johnson’s playing time last year, but I think much of it had to do with consistency from Johnson. He’s shown flashes of ability, but he’s also had occasional breakdowns and has been out of position. I do think Johnson has the potential to be an NFL starter at safety. He is a gifted and well put together athlete who takes care of his body; now he has to really hone in on playing defense at the NFL level. As he’s finding out, there’s more to it than just being a good athlete. As far as I know, Johnson is healthy and I don’t see why he can’t stay healthy.