Monday Morning Mailbag


Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Dec 16, 2013

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


What impressed you the most about the win? For me, it was (Matt) Cassel. He played out of his mind. Defense is a strong argument, as well. Nice win! SKOL
-- Ian S.
Strasburg, VA

In a victory like that one it’s hard to point out one aspect that was most impressive because so many things went right and went as planned. The offense scored 48 points, the defense held an explosive and productive Philadelphia Eagles offense in check for much of the game, and the special teams was dominant aside from allowing two long returns. But I do have one aspect that was most impressive to me: the play of the reserves.

The Vikings were down to their third running back (Matt Asiata), their third tight end (Chase Ford), a backup at right guard (Joe Berger), reserves at cornerback (Robert  Blanton, Shaun Prater and Marcus Sherels) and a backup at safety (Andrew Sendejo) for much of the game. Jared Allen even got in on the mix by snapping for Cullen Loeffler while he was being evaluated for a hand injury.

Seeing reserves and young players step up like that in a game where the team is a heavy underdog and in a season that has no hope for the playoffs is both inspiring and hope-generating.

Wow what a game. The Vikings were able to get a lead and maintain it for four quarters. The defense held an explosive offense, when needed.  Our offense scored touchdowns instead of field goals. It’s obvious to me that we are a better team than our record shows. Your thoughts? It should be interesting to see if we can play spoiler to the Bengals and Lions in our last two games. This team has great character – players and coaches.
-- Mike B.
Goodwin, SD

Bill Parcells once said: “You are what your record says you are.” Unfortunately, that is true, so the Vikings are a 4-9-1 team. But I agree with Mike that the Vikings feel like a team that is better than a four-win outfit 14 games into the season. One reason many of us might have this feeling is the “recency effect.” The Vikings are coming off a four-game run of impressive performances that includes: a tie at Lambeau Field; an overtime victory against the Bears; the crazy loss at Baltimore; and Sunday’s high-scoring win over Philadelphia.

But another and perhaps more significant reason it feels like the Vikings are better than their record indicates is the fact that the Vikings have lost five games in which they’ve held a late lead. Had one or two plays gone another way in any of those games, the Vikings could have additional wins. That’s not how it works, though, and Parcells is right – you are what your record says you are.

Is Matt Cassel our guy? He has had four great starts this season and he's a wonderful fit. Going into the offseason, do we look at him, Ponder, Freeman, or a draftee?
-- Kenny G.
South Milwaukee, WI

For now, Cassel is the Vikings guy. That’s my guess, at least. What happens after this season and going into next season is yet to be seen, and a lot will happen between now and Week 1 of the 2014 season, so it’s elementary to even speculate at this point. Cassel has a lot of traits I value in a quarterback, regardless of what role you want that quarterback to have (starter, veteran backup, mentor, etc.), and that leads me to the opinion that it’d be great to have him return next season in whatever capacity the team feels is best.

What are the benefits to winning after being mathematically eliminated?
-- John
Burnsville, MN

The benefits of winning in the NFL are many and varied. Winning is contagious, it builds confidence, it preserves jobs, it generates excitement and it helps a franchise develop a winning culture that makes it more appealing for coaches and players to want to stay or want to join.

I understand the point of John’s question and I get this sentiment from people quite a bit. Many believe that winning after being eliminated from the playoffs does more harm than good because it hurts the team’s draft position. But I don’t see it that way.

If you think about it, how much does an extra win or two really hurt the draft position? Everyone focuses exclusively on the first round. Yes, a five-win season over a three-win season may move you from third or fourth position in the first round to seventh, eighth or ninth position in the first round. But the draft is seven rounds, and in all the other rounds the difference is nominal. In the second round it might move you from 36th or 37th to 39th or 40th. In the fourth round it can move you from 106th or 107th to 110th or 11th. So what’s more valuable to the franchise – winning games or having the 107th overall pick instead of the 111th overall selection? I’ll take the wins 10 times out of 10.

Winning is the name of the game. Winning is why teams work so hard in training camp, spend so much time game planning between games, and work so hard in the offseason. Everyone involved in determining the fate of the team on the field is wired in a competitive way in which winning trumps all. To ask them to shift their mindset late in the season just because that season’s playoffs are out of reach will do more harm than good when you look at the long-term.