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Monday Morning Mailbag: Keenum's Play, Pass Rush vs. Packers, More

Posted Dec 25, 2017

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A win is a win. The rivalry and the cold held the offense back for sure. Defense wins championships. Offense moves the chains and score points. Case just needs to be a game manager moving forward. What do you think?
-- Gerald Goblirsch

Saying Keenum’s role is to be a game manager going forward is discrediting what he’s accomplished this season and is selling short his ability to help this team win. Keenum did not have his best game as a Viking on Saturday night, but he’s been one of the team’s most valuable players this season. He has five games with a 100+ passer rating in the last seven weeks and he has nearly as many such games (seven) as Randall Cunningham had in all of 1998 (eight). The Vikings are no longer a team paced by a defense that must drag along its offense. Yes, the defense is the identity and backbone of this team, but the offense can downright go out there and win a game for this team if it needs to, and Keenum is a big part of that.

Very satisfying to sweep the Packers and get a shutout. But where was the pass rush? Especially with all the injuries on the Packers’ offensive line, this unit should have done a lot more. Was it a fluke? Was it the cold? Do we need to be concerned about them?
-- Connor

No, there is no need to be concerned. In fact, head coach Mike Zimmer said during a conference call with reporters on Sunday that the Vikings changed their game plan mid-stride Saturday night, taking the emphasis away from sacking Hundley and instead focusing on keeping Hundley in the pocket because he was making plays as a rusher. In the end, the Vikings wound up with 26 pressures of Hundley, which came out to pressures on 37% of his dropbacks, an impressive number for the Vikings defense.

Losing Nick Easton is a bummer. Looking at the roster, the team seems pretty thin at guard. Do they bring up Cornelius Edison to back up Jeremiah Sirles? Or do they bring up one of the practice squad tackles, keeping in mind the nagging injuries both Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers have been working through?
-- Geoff Hansplant

Promoting a practice squad player is a possibility, but I won’t be surprised if the Vikings roll with what they have on the roster. Jeremiah Sirles filled in admirably and is one option to plug in at left guard. Another option is rookie Danny Isidora. A third option would be to move Mike Remmers to left guard and play Rashod Hill at right tackle. The bad news is Easton will be missing in action, but the good news is the Vikings have built up enough offensive line depth to survive this injury.

Always great to see a shutout win on the road, especially against Green Bay! Harrison Smith had an incredible game on top of a stellar season. Even though he was victim to a Pro Bowl snub, I believe he should be recognized on the all-pro team.
-- Jacob Cashin

I will be shocked if he’s not a near-unanimous player on the Associated Press All-Pro team. For my money, Smith is the best safety in the NFL and he’s one of Zimmer’s best defensive assets because of his versatility and dependability. Smith was dominant on Saturday night in Green Bay and his performance was on the national stage for all to see.

What happens if we win the last game against Chicago? Do we get a bye week and home-field advantage no matter what anyone else does?
-- Bruce Blanton

A win for the Vikings on Sunday against Chicago will guarantee a first-round bye as either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed. For it to be as the No. 1 seed, the Vikings also need Philadelphia to lose their final two games (vs. Oakland, vs. Dallas). If the Vikings defeat Chicago but Philadelphia wins one or both of its final two games, then the Vikings will be the No. 2 seed. The Vikings can also lose the No. 2 seed and the first-round bye if they lose on Sunday to Chicago and finish in a two-team tie with Carolina as the NFC South champions.