Monday Morning Mailbag

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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Dec 8, 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.

 

In your opinion, what were some of the things that you didn't like about the Baltimore game? Do you think it was the referees and some of their bad calls that cost us a W?
-- Kyle B.
Watertown, MN

I'm not willing to blame the loss on the officials, despite several calls that seemed questionable from my standpoint. It's the coaches' and players’ job to overcome adversity, whether it comes from weather, the officials, the opponent, bad luck, etc. A few things that didn't go the Vikings way included the running game early (just 37 yards on 13 carries in the first half), not being able to turn turnovers into points (seven points on three turnovers), a couple special teams miscues (letting punts hit the ground, Jacoby Jones’ 77-yard kickoff return touchdown) here and there, and then an inability to stop Baltimore on their final series (five plays, 80 yards, game-winning touchdown).

I know it was a tough loss, but there really are a lot of bright spots to build from this season. Our rookies are playing very well, with Cordarrelle Patterson getting a career-high in receiving yards and Xavier Rhodes again playing like a Pro Bowler. I think when Harrison Smith is back healthy, he and Rhodes are going to do a great job in the secondary for years to come.
-- Chris L.
Blaine, MN

I share in Chris’ excitement about the Vikings rookie class and about Rhodes and Smith anchoring the Vikings secondary for seasons to come. This really is turning out to be an outstanding draft class once again for the Vikings. Patterson is a legitimate rookie of the year candidate, Rhodes leads the team in pass breakups (PBUs) and had three more in Baltimore, Sharrif Floyd continues to progress, Jeff Locke has played three solid games in a row, and there’s reason for optimism about the young linebackers (Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti).

After a rough start to the year, I was hoping to get the best draft picks, which unfortunately means losing. Watching the way we are playing right now, it is impossible to hope for losses. Adrian Peterson’s strong finish last week that willed us to that win set the tone for everyone in the organization. It was also great to see Matt Cassel's fire and leadership today, as well as improved secondary play. You can't help but love the team dynamic that is showing up this late in the season, despite a tough year. Skol Vikes.
-- Zach S.

One thing to consider on the topic of losing draft positioning with wins in a “lost season” is that when you win games it means certain and various aspects of your team are performing well. Most likely, and in the Vikings case this season, those aspects that play well and thus help yield wins are going to be core members of the team in future years. You have to balance the value of having slightly higher picks with additional losses against having slightly worse picks with a few extra wins.

I’ll take the wins every time, no questions asked.

Unless the Vikings overpay, they will lose Gerhart this offseason in free agency. Do you see them possibly moving Zach Line into the role that Toby has filled the past few years?
-- Brian P.
Pierre, SD

With three games still to play, I’m not going to speculate on what the team will do with Gerhart this offseason or what they might do with Line going forward. I will say, though, that Gerhart has time and again proven the Vikings wise for having him on the roster. I know at first it seemed to make little sense that a team with Adrian Peterson would use a second-round pick on another running back, but several times during Gerhart’s time here the Vikings have benefitted from having him, including on Sunday in Baltimore.

The Vikings have a run-first offense in a pass-happy League, and that’s okay because the man who leads the charge happens to be the best running back in the NFL. But if you’re going to be built to run, then you better have a good backup plan at running back. And the Vikings have that with Gerhart. I wouldn’t be surprised whatsoever if the Vikings made a strong push to retain Gerhart this offseason. It was a good pick by GM Rick Spielman and Co.

Watching the Vikings this season has taken many years off of my life. However, I am heartened by their determination and toughness, and impressed with some of our rookies who have been asked to step up to the plate. Therefore, given our inability to covert 3rd downs and the holes in our defensive backfield, where would you concentrate our top draft pick and other top picks since it seems like that is where we need to focus given the lateness of the season?
-- Tim M.
Peoria, IL

It’s still too early for me to hone in on that because a lot will happen between now and draft day that will determine what the Vikings will do and what I think the Vikings should do. At this point we don’t know which pending free agents will be back, we don’t know which free agents the Vikings will sign, and we don’t know what underclassmen will declare for the draft. We need all of that information before we can start pinpointing what the Vikings may do in the 2014 NFL Draft. I don’t mean to dodge the question, but at this point we are just too far away to get specific on the draft.

The Vikings have HEART. Their season is over. They could easily have phoned it in Sunday in a blizzard in a game the Ravens had more to lose than we did, but they fought and showed tremendous pride, playing like it was a playoff game. As a fan, I appreciate the effort. That is why I'll board a plane in Jackson Hole, Wyoming this Thursday night and fly to Minneapolis with my son for the Eagles game on Sunday. It will be his first live Vikings game. I wanted him to see our favorite team at Mall of America Field before they tear it down, and I wanted to go to a home game one last time in the old place.
-- Nicias P.

Well said, Nicias. I agree that the Vikings once again showed heart in Sunday’s game. I know it didn’t result in the win, and result is the key in the NFL. But a lot of important parts of the Vikings played well in Baltimore, including the offensive line, several of this year’s draft picks and Toby Gerhart.

I hope you and your son enjoy your trip to Minnesota this week. One cool thing you’ll see is the unveiling of the All Mall of America Field Team, which I’m guessing will be a fitting occasion for you given your appreciation for the Vikings home stadium since 1982 and your clear passion for the Purple.

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