Monday Morning Mailbag

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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Oct 14, 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.

 

Do you think with the addition of Josh Freeman and of course all that Adrian Peterson was dealing with off the field this week was distracting enough to the point where the Vikings weren't fully prepared for Sunday’s game?
-- Kris

I can’t speak for individual players or the team as a whole in terms of whether they were distracted, but from my observations last week of the team and its individual components during practice and around the facility I can’t use either the Freeman acquisition or Peterson’s off-field situation as an excuse for what transpired against Carolina on the field. I didn’t have a problem with the Vikings energy level or effort, particularly in the early stages of the game, and that’s where a distracted team (or players) would be exposed. What I saw was a Vikings team that was simply out-performed on the field in nearly every way by their opponent. Carolina was the better team on Sunday and the Vikings must respond to that this week by getting past this loss and moving forward to prepare to travel to New York to face the Giants on Monday Night Football.

What could make such a big difference in the team in one year?  Especially the defense because it looks like other teams have the confidence to score at will. And teams are also confident they can stop the Vikings offense.  What's up with the Vikings this year?  It's impossible to point fingers. It's a team game.
-- Gary R.
Ashland, WI

If I could put my finger on exactly “what’s up” with the Vikings this season, I would march up to the front office and share that knowledge. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as identifying one or two issues, correcting them and then watching things unfold favorably the rest of the way. At various times this season, different aspects of the team have performed well while others have struggled. Then it seems at a different moment the performances are flip-flopped, and the Vikings just can’t get everything going in the right direction at the same time. That is a vague explanation but I think it’s also true. For example, the Vikings defense did a great job early in the season of taking the ball away – they were tied for third in the NFL with 12 takeaways after their Week 4 win against the Steelers. At the same time, though, the Vikings defense struggled with containing opposing running backs and that issue helped lead to defeats at the hands of the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears early in the season.

The bottom line is this Vikings team has the talent to win games and get back in the mix this season. This year’s roster is more talented than last year’s roster, and last year’s roster put together a 10-win season. In order to turn things around, the Vikings must improve a lot of areas and become a more consistent team that is capable of putting together a complete performance.

When will the coaches see that Josh Robinson is struggling on pass defense? Is there another capable backup that could replace him?
-- Terrel T.
Honolulu, HI

The coaches understand who is playing well and who isn’t. They watch the games, they break down the film, they conduct practices and break down the film of that, and then they meet together to discuss personnel and strategy. I can assure you they have a good grasp of which players are playing well and which players aren’t. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier was asked specifically about Robinson during his post-game press conference on Sunday. Here’s what he said:

“There are some things that we want him to do better. We rotated Marcus in there with him some and we’ll evaluate it this week and just see what’s going on at that position.”

That affirms to me what I wrote above – that the coaches are aware of Robinson’s (and everyone else’s) performance. We’ll have to wait and see what happens this week and how next week’s game plays out, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Vikings continue to experiment with the idea of playing Sherels a bit more on defense.

The one caveat to this is the injury to Xavier Rhodes. He injured his ankle against Carolina and was in and out of the game because of it. If the injury is severe enough where he’s unavailable on Monday night against the Giants, then you’re going to see a lot more of Sherels and Robinson will likely continue to be heavily involved, as well.

We should be more creative with our offensive plays. When I heard Joe Webb was moving to wide receiver, I was hoping we would try some wildcat with him.  We could also screen pass to Adrian more often.  And with our offensive line struggling, we could try more outside runs, where Adrian can make plays as we all know.
-- Ben H. (age 15)
Rochester, MN (Go Marcus Sherels!)

This is a fair viewpoint and a suggestion I hear a lot from fans. But I would also submit to this discussion the idea that at times the Vikings struggle to execute some of the basic elements of their offense, such as the running game on Sunday against Carolina. The Vikings bread and butter is the power running game, with Peterson running behind fullback Jerome Felton and what is normally a very good run blocking offensive line. On Sunday, though, the Vikings couldn’t get going on the ground. In fact, Peterson had just 10 carries for 62 yards. When a team isn’t able to get the running game going, it restricts the ability to become more creative and dynamic because the offense is usually behind schedule in the down and distance.

Do you feel the rest of the season will simply be to determine if we have a future quarterback or plan on looking to the 2014 draft to find one?
-- Charles D.

That should be part of the team’s long-term plan, but I don’t believe that should be the singular goal for the rest of the season. I understand sitting at 1-4 at this point is discouraging and is far from where we all envisioned the Vikings being, but it’s not time to fold up shop, give up on 2013 and look to next season. Now is the time for the Vikings to look at what’s led to four losses in five games, correct the errors and find a way to improve and start winning games. There were plenty of moments last season when people counted the Vikings out, yet they ripped off four consecutive wins to close the season and make the playoffs. Going back to 2008, there were plenty of moments when people counted the Vikings out, but they finished the season well and wound up winning the division. There is no place in the NFL for teams and players that give up, and I don’t expect this Vikings team to fall into that pitfall.