Monday Morning Mailbag

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Monday Morning Mailbag: Tuesday Edition

Posted Oct 22, 2013

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday during the season we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com 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 wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. Remember to include your name and town on the email.

 

I'm sad. Explain what went wrong. This is worse than the Arizona Cardinals beating us on the last play of the game in 2003. Heart broken. This hurts so bad.
-- Louis L.
Tempe, AZ

To me this is not worse than the Arizona loss in 2003 because that loss knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs. Monday night’s loss to the NY Giants didn't end the Vikings season. The loss obviously puts the Vikings in a deeper hole now that they are 1-5, but it didn't end the season and it certainly didn't take the Vikings from being in the playoffs to being out of the playoffs.

I can't explain what went wrong on Monday night in succinct enough terms for the Mailbag. A lot went wrong and it snowballed as the game progressed. The Vikings had opportunities to take control early in the game and then to get back in the game after the Giants took control, but they couldn't take advantage of those opportunities. For example, a big turning point in the game was when Marcus Sherels couldn’t haul in an interception that may have gone for a pick-six and then on the next play he fumbled a punt return that resulted in the Giants taking possession on the Vikings 3.

Ultimately, though, the loss doesn’t land at the feet of one player. To me, it all starts with the Vikings running game. If the Vikings are running the ball well, they have a chance to open up the passing game and move the ball that way, too. And when the Vikings are moving the ball on offense and scoring points, that puts the defense in more favorable spots and it also alleviates the defense from pressure to continually make stops. It’s a cyclical effect, but to me it all starts with the running game for this Vikings team.

Why didn’t the Vikings sit Josh Freeman and start Christian Ponder? We needed to win, not give tryouts. Very frustrated and disappointed. I’m sure we all are.
-- Jesse
Holland, MI

It’s not fair to question the Vikings decision to start Freeman in this game. There was a massive amount of pressure on the Vikings to replace Matt Cassel and Ponder when they did replace those players, and then there was a lot of pressure on the Vikings to start Freeman this week. To me it doesn’t matter who is under center if the Vikings aren’t running the ball. While it’s fair to expect Freeman to play better next Sunday night against Green Bay, it’s also only fair to acknowledge that the deck was stacked against Freeman tonight because he was making his first start for a team he just joined two weeks ago and that start was on the road in prime time against the Giants. Also, the Vikings didn’t have the running game going, which didn’t make life any easier for Freeman and Co.

I’m excited about the edition of Josh Freeman, but my question lies with our defense. Harrison Smith is on injured reserve, we have youth at cornerback, Desmond Bishop is out at linebacker. What are the Vikings plans to bolster the back end of the defense?
-- Kevin F.
Spartanburg, SC

In football you often hear coaches talk about the "next man up" mentality, meaning that when a starter goes down the team does not panic and instead they simply call on the next man on the depth chart to step in and perform. I sense that is exactly the mentality the Vikings will take with the Smith injury. Andrew Sendejo got the start on Monday night and Mistral Raymond was worked into the rotation, as well. With no blockbuster deals imminent for the Vikings, I’m anticipating the plan for improving the back end of the defense is not to make a splashy signing or trade and instead to rely on the players already on the roster. This strategy is better for the long-term outlook of the team because it will allow young talent such as cornerbacks Josh Robison and Xavier Rhodes and safeties Robert Blanton, Sendejo and Raymond to continue developing.

Amidst all the discussion of the best ways to fix the Vikings problems, the most shocking idea I read about was trading Adrian Peterson for a bunch of draft picks, similar to what the Cowboys did with Herschel Walker. Do you think this is a good idea?
-- Jared N.
Park Rapids, MN

Peterson is the face of the Vikings franchise and the heart and soul of the locker room, and that’s on top of being one of the best players in the entire NFL. His competitive spirit and determination is the stuff of legends, his popularity is off the charts in Minnesota, he’s a draw for fans and free agents, and there have been times during his career when he’s all the Vikings had for hope on offense. The idea of trading away that kind of player while he’s still in his prime is just so foreign to me that it’s hard to even comprehend, much more support.

People who know far more about building a roster and caring for the long-term prospects of an organization are the ones who pull the trigger, so I will support whatever decision they make. But if you’re asking me on a personal level about the idea of trading Peterson, all I can say is it’s something I can’t fathom at this point in his career.

Why do the Vikings insist on continually trotting Josh Robinson out on the field to play defense? It seems like every time the opposing team makes a big play in the passing game it’s Robinson on the other end of the play. Do you understand this?
-- Robyn S.
Duluth, MN

As frustrated as I had become with some of Robinson's shortcomings in the first month of the season, I can't say we know who he is yet and that it’s time to give up on him. In fact, I feel the opposite. I know we’ve seen him get beat periodically, but we’ve also seen him make some plays, particularly on Monday night in New York when he broke up a touchdown pass.

We also have to remember that he's learning a new position - the nickel back position - and it’s a hard position to learn. Antoine Winfield played that position and played it extremely well for the Vikings, so we’re spoiled quite a bit and we probably took it for granted at times. Now we're seeing just how hard a position it is to master. I think Robinson will get there some day - at least to the point where he's a reliable defender who can help the Vikings win games. I understand that he's not there yet and that fans are sick of seeing him get beat, but giving up on him now is not the most constructive way to get that hole in the defense fixed.

I was going through the Vikings roster page and I noticed WR Rodney Smith had been promoted from the practice squad and is now on the 53-man roster. Smith was a receiver I had my eye on, and I was wondering if he had developed and showed enough promise to promoted, or if it was just a numbers move due to injuries to the current roster?
-- Nate A.
Minot, ND

There are a bevy of reasons a practice squad player can be promoted to the active roster. He may have displayed the improvement and ability requisite of a player to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. There might be injuries to the 53-man roster and depth is needed. Or another team in the League may have come knocking on the door and offered a contract, so the team responds by offering a spot on its 53-man roster in order to retain the rights of the player. I can’t say for certain what the situation was with Smith and his promotion, but my sense from watching him in camp and in practice as well as from talking to some of his coaches is that it’s a combination of factors, specifically his size/speed combo in addition to the fact that a roster spot became available when Smith was placed on the Reserve/Injured (Designated for Return) list.