Monday Morning Mailbag

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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Nov 25, 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 think yesterday’s game should rightfully call into question the way the NFL handles overtime? A tie? Why not do it the way the NCAA does it and have both teams get offensive possessions close to the end zone so we can see some scoring and we can come away with a winner?
-- Jason A.
Los Angeles, CA

I am all for getting rid of ties in the NFL, but I do not support going to how the NCAA constructs overtime. In fact, I actually liked the NFL’s former overtime format of plain and simple sudden death. My main issue with the NCAA’s format is that it essentially eliminates a large aspect of special teams, which is in my mind an equally important phase of the game to defense and offense. In the NCAA’s format, there are no kickoffs or punts. If we are going to determine the winner of a football game, I don’t see why we would eliminate such vital components of the game.

With the NFL’s current format, every aspect of the game of football is involved. One thing that makes the NFL great is the willingness of its stewards to assess and consider everything that goes into the game and then make changes according to what they believe is in the best interests of the League and its fans. The new overtime format is an example of that, and even though it resulted in a tie yesterday, I still believe it’s superior to the NCAA format.

My questions are related to the end of the game on the last play. If the Vikings have so much confidence in Blair Walsh, why did we not attempt a “Fair Catch Kick” after Marcus Sherels fair caught the last punt by Green Bay? Do we have such a package or have we practiced it? Was it even an option? Do you believe weather conditions had a factor in not attempting the kick? I feel it might have given the Vikings a chance of a win (long kick or not).
-- Matt S.
Cherokee, IA

Matt is pointing out a little-known rule that allows a team to attempt a field goal via a free kick on the play immediately following a fair catch. The kick is attempted from the spot of the fair catch, and for the Vikings on Sunday that would’ve meant a kick from the Minnesota 34 and a field goal try of 76 yards. Given the weather conditions – wind and cold temps – I just don’t think it was a realistic possibility. In fact, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier was asked about this after the game and he said it was a consideration but that it just wasn’t a feasible option given the circumstances I mentioned above. In Mall of America Field? Now that’s a different story, and it might have been something the Vikings tried because the alternative (razzle dazzle or long desperation pass) is a low probability option.

It wasn’t a win, but I guess it’s better than a loss. Good job not giving up and fighting to the end by all the Vikings players. An effort like that makes me proud of our guys. I am writing in response to what I saw at the wide receiver position yesterday. I really like the combination of Cordarrelle Patterson and Jerome Simpson outside and Greg Jennings in the slot. I have a ton of respect for Jennings and how good of a player he is, but I really hope to see this more. I really like the athletic ability it brings to the outside and I believe this opens up the slot for Jennings. Do you agree, and will we see more of this the rest of the year?
-- Nate A.
Minot, ND

I do agree, Nate. I can’t see into the future so I can’t tell you whether we’ll see more of this going forward, but I can tell you I like the idea of having those three receivers on the field at the same time and having Jennings do most of his work from the slot. As for Patterson, we’ve really seen his snaps and opportunities rise the last few weeks. Last week he was targeted nine times by Ponder and in Sunday’s game at Green Bay he was targeted 11 times with eight receptions for 54 yards on those targets. All along the Vikings have said Patterson would be an instant impact player on kickoff return while he learned the receiver position, and that’s precisely how his development has gone. This season has not gone according to plan on many accounts, but give credit to the Vikings for A) being aggressive in trading up to draft Patterson, B) developing a plan for him and C) executing that plan exactly how they laid it out.

That was fun to watch. Error free play from the quarterback position and best effort of the season in the running game. As the run goes, so do the Vikings. Hopefully the momentum will carry. In your opinion, was it a good game plan or flawless play from Ponder? Hard to help but wonder what the season could have been like if this combination of planning/effort/execution would have occurred all season.
-- Kyle K.

PS: It only could have been made better if Cordarrelle would have caught the ricochet pass in the end zone...next time.

One of the common phrases I say in response to those who blame an individual or position group for a loss is that you win as a team and lose as a team. So if I’m going to profess that after a loss or as a way to explain away poor play, I’m going to stick with it to explain a win (or a tie) and good performances. Christian Ponder was sharp and smart with the ball during the game, completing 21 of 30 passes and at hitting nine different receivers in his first 15 completions. My only issue with his stat line is the fact he was sacked six times. Attributing those sacks to holding the ball too long, poor blocking or just good coverage by the defense is something the coaches will do, but any way you slice it that’s just way too many sacks to take. Outside of that, though, one has to be pleased with the performance of the quarterback and the results the passing game provided.

I want to point out some great performances by some guys that really stood out to me, especially since they are all backups and played with the "next man up" mentality. First has to be Audie Cole, for no other reason than that pressure and hit on Matt Flynn late in the game. But he played nicely for Erin Henderson I thought. Next, Toby Gerhart! Somebody I've heard a lot of questions about why we use him at all, I think he showed why. I live on the West Coast and know all about his career at Stanford. He is much more dynamic than people understand. Then, how about Rhett Ellison! Catching some big time balls. And lastly, Robert Blanton, who had to cover Jordy Nelson and did a pretty good job. All in all, great effort by the team and even though it's a tie and not a win, the way the team played gave me a lot of confidence in our future and still in the coaches.
-- Tyler L.
Albany, OR

Well said, Tyler. Cole led the team in tackles with 11 and had a sack on the first play of the game, Gerhart had 91 yards on eight carries and now has 158 rushing yards on 15 carries the past two games, Blanton showed his versatility as a safety playing in the slot and also contributing on special teams, and Ellison recorded the first touchdown of his career.

The Vikings are in the midst of a disappointing season when it comes to win-loss record and they’ve been hit hard by injuries, but it’s opening up opportunities for young players and those young players are making the most of it.

It's unfair and brutal that we get a tough schedule. Do you think after this season's over will we have a much easier schedule when it comes out soon during the off season?
-- Kyle
Watertown, MN

I don’t think there are any easy schedules in the NFL. The parity in this League is so good that any team can win on any given day. It’s hard to win any game in the NFL, regardless of how good or poor you are and how good or poor your opponent is. The margin between winning and losing and good players and average players is incredibly thin, and that’s one reason the NFL is America’s most popular sport – you never know what to expect and every year every team should believe they can reach the top of the mountain if things fall their way.

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