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Monday Morning Mailbag: The Offense Steps Up

Posted Nov 13, 2017

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Complete team win! This Vikings team is exciting to watch. Yes, some mistakes need to be cleaned up, but they sure did come out firing on all cylinders. Hopefully Xavier Rhodes is alright and Everson Griffen comes back next week. We'll need both of them against the Rams. Stopping the run should increase our chances to win. I believe Coach Zimmer will have them ready and up to the task of defending Todd Gurley. SKOL VIKINGS!
-- Kyle Alexander
Texas

Sunday’s win over Washington is one of those perfect games for the coaching staff where the team did a lot of good things in all phases but there were also enough errors made to where no one can look in the mirror o show up to Winter Park on Monday morning thinking they played perfectly and can’t improve for the next game. The offense should hang its hat on the fact it was a perfect five of five in the red zone and four of four in goal-to-go situations, but they can take some lessons about how to play better with a big lead. The defense can also hang its hat on success in those critical areas of the field, but will also put an emphasis on reducing the amount of big plays allowed; Washington had five plays of 25 yards on Sunday. Ultimately, Sunday’s win was an impressive one for the Vikings and it will help them build some momentum as they get rolling in the second half of the season.

The biggest improvement I saw in this game was the play of the offensive line. They are taking a step forward every week and they all deserve game balls. SKOL!
-- John McGuire
Lone Pine, CA

No doubt about it. And they did it this week without starting right tackle Mike Remmers, so credit goes to backup Rashod Hill for being able to step in and help out. Case Keenum was not sacked in the game, marking the fifth game this year in which the offensive line kept Keenum clean. The offense as a whole can do better in the running game, but they did score a rushing touchdown and the offensive line deserves as much credit as any part of the offense for the red zone and goal line success against the Redskins.

Although it is great to see Teddy back, I just can’t see Case not being given the nod to start next week. Case has developed a good rapport with the receivers and other than those two interceptions today, he has been really solid. Do you see any possible change in the quarterback position in the near future? Skol Vikes!
-- John S.

Over the years working in this League, I’ve learned to avoid ruling anything out as a possibility. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he has a plan but he’s choosing (wisely) to not disclose it, so I will refrain from speculating on what I think will happen out of respect for the process and of coach’s decision. It’s been characterized as a week-to-week situation and Zimmer also said after the game that he’ll have a discussion about the plan this week, so I’m not even entirely sure the team knows what it will do beyond this week. The good news is I think no matter who plays quarterback for the Vikings, this team has a chance to be really good and attain all of its goals if they maintain their fighter mentality, stick together and not worry about who gets credit for accomplishments.

Our defense started slowly today. How much of that was due to Everson Griffen's absence? And will he be back for Sunday?
-- Gerald Goblirsch

Part of it is you have to give the Redskins credit. They’ve scored 50 points in the 1st quarter of games this season, which is eighth-best in the NFL, and they have good design, good play calling and good players. Where I thought Griffen’s presence was missed most was in the 4th quarter, where Cousins had 18 dropbacks in a situation where the Vikings knew Cousins would be passing. Cousins was sacked once (Hunter) and was pressured a few times in that final quarter, but those are moments for which Griffen is built and I thought he would’ve had a significant impact had he been on the field.

It seems like Trae Waynes is continuing to improve. He steps in on running plays and consistently tackles well. Also, although he still gets beat in coverage at times, it has improved considerably since the Pittsburgh game. The touchdown catch he allowed on the opening drive was outstanding, but Trae's coverage was tight and pressed up against the sideline. Your thoughts on Trae's overall play this season would be appreciated. Skol Vikes!
-- Eric Preston
Cincinnati, OH

You are correct. Waynes has improved dramatically since last season and is getting better as the season progresses. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s easy to discredit Waynes, especially in comparison to Xavier Rhodes, but that criticism is beginning to be more and more off the mark and tone deaf. Waynes did surrender a touchdown in Washington, but he actually had good coverage on the play and it took a perfect throw, an improbable one-handed catch and an official’s review and overturn of the call to beat him. Other than that throw, Waynes was targeted three times and allowed just one reception for seven yards, according to Pro Football Focus. Also according to PFF, Waynes has allowed a passer rating of just 77.9 to opposing quarterbacks since Week 5, representing a marked improvement from the first four weeks. The arrow is pointing up on Waynes, and that is good news for the Vikings.

Not really a question. I just wanted to give a shout out and say thank you to Case Keenum. His entire career he's been thought of as just a backup, but when he was called upon to step up and play for the Vikings he's done so in a huge way! Enormous game against the Redskins on the road! Skol Vikes!
-- Brian Bassett

Amen. Keenum deserves plenty of praise for the way he’s handled himself since Sam Bradford was lost to injury after Week 1. He’s not played perfectly and the two interceptions he threw in Washington will stick in his craw, but he’s really stepped in and played well considering the circumstances. A lot of teams would pay a steep price to have a backup quarterback capable of doing what Keenum has done in eight games as the primary passer.