Monday Morning Mailbag

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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Sep 9, 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.

 

While the game didn't go as I thought it would, I thought the defense did a great job. With that being said, which do you think was more to blame for the offensive struggles: the offensive line or Christian Ponder?
-- Dustin F.
Graham, NC

With as many miscues as the Vikings had on Sunday, I find it hard to put too much of the blame at any one player, coach or position group’s feet. Everyone needs to be held accountable for how they play, but credit for a win or blame for a loss should not go to an individual. I’m sure Ponder would love to have the play back where he waited too long to throw the ball away, and I’m sure every offensive linemen who played in the game can think back to a play where they didn’t execute the proper block or make the right adjustment. There are a lot of players and a lot of position groups on the Vikings roster that won’t be happy with how they performed on Sunday, and now everyone needs to improve if the Vikings are going to get back on the winning track next Sunday in Chicago.

Everybody seems to be blaming this loss on Christian Ponder and thinking that we have to bench him already, and I don't think that is fair. Besides Adrian Peterson’s first carry, the running game didn't really help take any pressure off the passing game. Also, the defense just didn't have an answer for Reggie Bush and they couldn't get off the field. There is no need to overreact to this one loss. There is still plenty of football left.
-- Brandan L.
Fargo, ND

This is precisely the attitude the team must carry this week as they prepare to travel to Chicago to play the Bears. Now is not the time to overreact and panic. At the same time, the team must take on a sense of urgency to fix some problems with execution and fundamentals. While I’m sure Ponder will be the first to admit he needs to improve, and I would agree, I also agree with Brandan that it’s hard for the Vikings offense to get something going in the air when the ground game is being stopped. Yes, other NFL teams construct productive passing attacks without the likes of Peterson in the backfield, but this Vikings team is built to be a run-first operation that benefits from defenses overcompensating to stop Peterson and thus leaving openings in the passing game. Aside from Peterson’s 78-yard run, the Vikings gained 27 yards on 21 carries. That is not going to cut it, and that is not going to allow Ponder and his receivers to get anything going in the passing game.

As for the defense, I thought their effort for much of the game was good. We have to remember that an unproductive offense and some short punts really put the Vikings defense at a disadvantage, and yet they continued to respond by forcing field goal tries and even turning the ball over a couple time. The Vikings defense was on the field for 20:58 in the 1st half and then 36:19 for the game, both lopsided totals that make it hard to stay energized and fresh. Also, the Lions had five drives that started in Vikings territory – that is hard on a defense. On those five drives, though, the Vikings surrendered just 10 points. That’s an impressive total. As the game wore on, Detroit accumulated more and more yardage, and then the 77-yard touchdown by Bush on the middle screen was not the defense’s best moment. Again, I’m not trying to excuse any part of the team from blame or put too much blame on any one area of the team. But given what they had to work with for most of the game on Sunday, I thought the Vikings defense had some very good moments.

I think our team is playing too vanilla on both sides of the ball. There is way too much talent on our offense to continue running the same uncreative and predictable offensive schemes/plays. We need to see more aggressiveness out of our offense – attack the opposing defense rather than take what they'll give us. I don't think the issue is as glaring with the defense, but there seems to be a lack of aggression there, too. We are reactive rather than proactive.
-- Ryan H.
Santa Rosa, CA

I do believe there is some validity to Ryan’s feedback regarding some of the playcalling from Sunday, particularly at the end of the game when the Vikings were trying to come back. I appreciate and respect the philosophy of running the ball and taking what the defense gives you for the body of the game, but when you’re trailing by 10 points in the final minutes it’s time to throw the ball down the field. At the same time and in defense of the playcaller, we must also realize that players must execute playcalls. Poor execution can make even the best play design look poor. Conversely, a vanilla playcall can look exciting with great execution.

The point here is not to excuse anyone from responsibility for what happened on Sunday. Rather, I tend to steer my criticism away from playcalling because in the end it comes down to execution. It’s not the playcallers fault when the quarterback throws an interception, or there’s a fumbled handoff exchange or a missed block. The game I watched yesterday featured more mistakes in execution than even the best playcaller in the business could overcome.

Jerome Simpson played very well in the opener. Do you think he can perform like this all year?
-- Dakota B.
Ennis, TX

Vikings

Sunday was the best I’ve seen Simpson look in a Vikings uniform. He caught seven passes for 140 yards, including a diving 47-yarder that maybe only he could make. Simpson has the ability to perform like that on a consistent basis and I do anticipate more 100-yard receiving games from him, but we also have to remember it’s about getting opportunities. The Vikings are going to be a run-first team – that is their identity. And when the Vikings do go to the air, there are other targets to utilize, such as Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph. So while I do think Simpson has the ability to put up numbers like he did on Sunday again, I also know Ponder is going to spread the targets out to other players based on what the defense is giving up.

Why are the Vikings not using Cordarrelle Patterson more? The best play for him would be a wide receiver screen or a deep throw to him, but I only saw one screen to him.
-- Joe W.

I, too, would love to see Patterson more involved in the offense. But we have to be measured in that opinion at this point because we are only one game into the season. Patterson had three touches on Sunday – two kickoff returns and one reception. One kickoff return went for 30 yards and only a shoelace tackle kept him from scoring on it, and one reception was on a screen for 10 yards near the goal line and that, too, was nearly a touchdown. So I thought Patterson looked game and I’m excited to see how the Vikings use him going forward.