Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Oct 29, 2012

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday during the season 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.


It was a tough loss to watch, but those games happen. I cannot believe so many fans want to bench Christian Ponder at this point. We still hold the second spot in the NFC North, and have two very winnable games coming up. Can you please explain to the fans you can’t just bench the quarterback and change directions at this point? The offensive line needs some work, and it was glaringly obvious in the Buccaneers game. Don’t you think we come back from this game better? How long will Cook be out? I have not lost faith. Gooo Vikings! Baarrroooh!
-- Mike B.
Goodwin SD

Any idea that Ponder should be replaced at this point is preposterous. We have to remember that he’s started just 18 games. That’s not nearly a large enough sample size to know for certain what type of quarterback he’ll become. Through his first 18 starts, Ponder has a higher passer rating (77.8) than Matthew Stafford (76.8), Drew Brees (75.2), Josh Freeman (74.5), Peyton Manning (72.8) and Eli Manning (72.6) had through each of their first 18 starts. Be patient. He needs time to develop, and we need more of a sample to size to judge whether or not he can be our quarterback of the future. I think he can be.

Young quarterbacks make mistakes – they always have and they always will in this League. The key is bouncing back. I think Ponder will bounce back from three consecutive poor outings and get back on the right track against Seattle and Detroit before heading into the bye week.

As to the second part of Mike’s question, I do agree that the Vikings will come back from Thursday’s loss a better team. Every aspect of the Vikings has something to learn from that game, and with a few extra days to prepare for Seattle while digesting that loss to Tampa Bay, I think the Vikings will come back improved.

I have heard over the last couple weeks that Dwayne Bowe wants out of Kansas City. If the price is right, why not try making a move on him? He's only 28, and I think he would make an immediate impact if we brought him in before the trade deadline this season.
-- Alex
Stevens Point, WI

There's no question the Vikings are missing a consistent vertical threat in the passing game, so I do understand the urge many fans have to find a fast solution. Without question, the most common topic in emails sent to me since the end of Thursday night’s loss has been trading for Bowe. Unless the Vikings are completely blown away by an offer, I don’t see them making this kind of trade in the next couple of days.

I believe the Vikings have the receivers on their roster to move the ball through the air. So far, though, for a variety of reasons, the passing game hasn’t come together in the manner designed. I don't believe a lack of talent at receiver is solely to blame for this. The quarterback needs to improve, the pass protection needs to improve, and the receivers need to improve their ability to win versus coverage downfield.

Trading for an outside receiver or picking one up off the street is not the answer, in my opinion. If Bowe or Steve Smith or whoever is out there that people want the Vikings to trade for were the answer, then their teams would be better at moving the ball down the field. Kansas City has the NFL’s 29th ranked passing offense, so it’s not like Bowe is the ultimate key to unlocking a great passing game.

The better answer is to fix the problems with the players you have on the team. These players have been working within the offense for the last several months and stand the best chance to get on the right track with Ponder. Outside of quarterback, I'd say wide receiver is the hardest position to learn quickly and settle into.

I'd rather the Vikings stick with what they have and focus on making improvements in-house, rather than look to the outside to bring in a new piece and then worry about all the hurdles involved in that process as well as all the hurdles involved in improving the passing game.

What do you think about losing CB Chris Cook? What will this do to the Vikings defense? Who is going to take the place of Cook?
-- Gil
Chicago, IL

The loss of Cook hurts the Vikings defense, no question. His presence in the lineup, along with Winfield’s, was a key reason behind the Vikings improved passing defense. Those two missed a combined 21 games last season, and having them back on the field this season made a huge difference.

The bad news is Cook will be out at least eight weeks after being placed on the Reserve/Injured list (with designation for return). The good news is the Vikings have a couple youngsters who now have an opportunity to step into increased roles. Josh Robinson, the Vikings third-round pick last April, has gotten off to a fast start as the Vikings third cornerback. I expect he’ll be the guy who replaces Cook in the starting lineup, and I believe he’ll be up for the task. Also, AJ Jefferson figures to see more time, especially when the Vikings go into their nickel package. The Vikings traded for Jefferson right before the beginning of the regular season, and now they get a chance to see the payoff for that trade.

Others who could see more time on defense include Brandon Burton, Bobby Felder and Marcus Sherels.

What is the deal with Jarius Wright? Do you think we will see him this year or do we have to wait for next year with Greg Childs? Thanks. SKOL Vikes!!!
-- Dave
South St Paul, MN

Only time will tell the answer to that question. I’ve received countless emails from fans who are beside themselves that Wright hasn’t played yet. But we have to remember that he’s a fourth-round pick and is playing behind several veterans, namely Percy Harvin. Aside from Harvin, production from the wide receiver position has been low, which has prompted many to call for Wright to play. But if Vikings coaches though Wright could contribute to the answer, they’d play him.

For whatever the reason, Wright just isn’t there yet. That’s okay, though, because he’s a fourth-round pick and is due more time to develop. I’m confident Wright will eventually get to the point where he can contribute, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was at some point this season. It’s just not right now.

Tough, tough loss Thursday night. But I'm extremely confident in this team, not only for the rest of the year but for years to come. A couple things, though. Should we think about releasing or trading players to sign a big-name receiver for Ponder? Secondly, on the last couple drives we did nothing but no-huddle, and moved the ball better than we did all game. Should we consider putting in a no-huddle scheme for several drives through a game? It might keep the defense on their heels. It's worked for some other offenses in the past. Your thoughts on both of these.
-- Ian
Strasburg, VA

As I stated above, I don’t believe making a big change in personnel is the answer. I’d rather see the pass protection improve, Ponder improve and the receivers currently on the roster improve at getting open downfield and then making a play when given the opportunity. Addressing the receiver position by adding a big name is something to do this offseason, perhaps, but not right now in the middle of the season.

I do like the idea of adding a no-huddle element to the offense to be used in the middle of the game. It’s a change that can throw the defense through a loop. For now, though, the Vikings need to focus on doing the ordinary things extraordinarily well. Once they can do that, I think something like the no-huddle can be a useful tool to mix it up and increase production.

One free agent who has definitely been an upgrade has been FB Jerome Felton. His run blocking has been a significant factor in clearing out defenders and giving Adrian Peterson more holes to hit. I especially like the draw option with Felton and Adrian in the backfield. Not sure the offensive line and, in particular, Felton are getting enough credit. What do you think?
-- Will
London, England

No question about it, a great point raised by Will. Peterson will be the NFL’s leading rusher after seven weeks of play, assuming San Francisco’s Frank Gore rushes for fewer than 175 yards tonight against Arizona. A lot of people deserve credit for that, including Felton. We referenced Felton as one of three players flying under the radar earlier this year, and he remains a player having a great season while flying under the radar.

The offensive line deserves credit, too, obviously. They are a great run-blocking group right now, and they have been since Peterson entered the NFL in 2007. Since the Vikings drafted Peterson, no team has rushed for more yards (12,216) than the Vikings and only the New England Patriots (106) have rushed for more touchdowns than the Vikings (96).