RSS Mailbag - 9/18

Posted Sep 18, 2009

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Friday we’ll post several comments 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 do the Vikings decide which players will be inactive on game day?

-- Jesse C., Iowa City, IA

Good question, Jesse. For those who aren’t aware of what Jesse is asking, 90 minutes before kickoff of each game, NFL teams are required to designate 8 players from their 53-man rosters as inactive for the game.

The decision of who to designate as inactive is a product of 2 main factors – injuries and that week’s game plan. Let’s take a look at last week’s game in Cleveland as an example. The Vikings designated WR Bernard Berrian as active after listing him as questionable on the injury report. Obviously Berrian was healthy enough to play, and the team felt good enough about Berrian’s progress from the injury that they only had 4 WRs active – Jaymar Johnson and Greg Lewis were inactive. Had the team been concerned that Berrian might not be able to finish the game, perhaps they would’ve left either Johnson or Lewis as active players, in the event that Berrian was unable to go and someone needed to fill in.

Another consideration is the game plan. Say, for example, that a particular team plans the run the ball extensively in a game because the opponent as an inferior rushing defense. In that scenario, a team might keep an extra TE or FB active because of the extra run plays in the game plan. To make room for an extra TE or FB, that team de-activates a player at a different position.

So it’s really a week-to-week process. DT Fred Evans was inactive last week, but he could very well be active this week based on the health of other defensive linemen or based on the particular defensive strategy the team will employ against Detroit.

Was Jared Allen completely shut down by Joe Thomas last week in Cleveland?

-- Gary H., Minneapolis, MN

I wouldn’t feel safe making that claim, although I do give lots of credit to Thomas for the way he played on Sunday against the Vikings. We’ve all seen how Allen can terrorize opposing offenses and be a complete disruption, especially in terms of QB sacks.

Now, the stat sheet shows Allen as having 0 tackles (1 assists) and 0 sacks – which is basically getting shut out of a game for a DE. But there’s more to playing defense than accumulating statistics. I’m sure that over the course of the game Cleveland used RBs to chip Allen and help Thomas, just as I’m sure Allen saw his share of double teams. By using an extra man on Allen to slow him down, that might have opened up a lane for another defender or allowed DT Kevin Williams to go one-on-one instead of being double-teamed himself. The Vikings had 5 sacks and plenty more QB hurries and hits, and I’m sure Allen had a large part in that.

Why didn’t Childress challenge the catch by Sidney Rice in the endzone?

-- Laurel M., Rapid City, SD

At that point in the game, the Vikings had used all of their challenges. Teams are allowed only 2 challenges per game, plus a 3rd “bonus” challenge if they used the first 2 challenges successfully. When Rice caught that pass near the sideline/endzone, the Vikings had already challenged a fumble and Browns TD reception.