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Monday Morning Mailbag: Anthony Barr's Impact & 2020 Play-Calling Duties

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In my opinion, the fan base does not feel Anthony Barr has not lived up to his contract, and our linebackers are really good. Is there a scenario he would be traded?

— Paul Pecukonis in Seattle, Washington

There is certainly going to added scrutiny on a player when he signs a big deal, as Barr did last offseason. When it comes to Barr, I think a lot of people expect to see multiple "splash plays" a game, much like his game-winning forced fumble and subsequent return against Tampa Bay back in 2014.

But sometimes Barr is tasked with playing his own role in the defense, and that can be complex. He is involved in stopping the run game, covering running backs and tight ends, plus sometimes spying the opposing QB. He still makes those splash plays — remember his safety and interception against the Giants in 2019? — but there are also plenty of games where he does his job soundly and lets his teammates take credit and make plays of their own.

Barr is also a team captain and well-respected in the Vikings locker room.

Which leads me to the next part of your question…

I don't know who is saying the Vikings linebackers aren't good. Barr is a four-time Pro Bowler. Eric Kendricks was an All-Pro and arguably the best player at his position in 2019. Eric Wilson and Ben Gedeon each provide depth in different areas, and both help on special teams. It was Wilson who blocked the first punt of the season against Atlanta in 2019.

To state it plainly, good luck convincing those around the league that the Vikings LB group isn't among the best in the league. Plenty of teams would take the duo of Barr and Kendricks, and I'm glad they wear Purple.

Should we expect major changes in play-calling on offense this season? Kevin Stefanski is in Cleveland now and Gary Kubiak is in charge, but Kubiak isn't new to the team.

— Scott Collins in Chattanooga

I'd guess the offensive play-calling will be fairly similar this year. Yes, Stefanski called the plays and was the offensive coordinator, but Kubiak certainly had a presence and input on game-planning throughout the week. Kubiak will certainly put his own flavor on the offense, while also keeping things familiar for the likes of Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith, Jr., and the returning offensive linemen.

Defensively, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is still planning on calling the plays as far as we know. The co-defensive coordinators, Andre Patterson and Adam Zimmer, might get a shot at that down the road, but Zimmer has enjoyed it.

First off: Purple and Gold to the core. It seems to me the Vikings had tremendous problems competing on grass on both sides of the ball last year. In my mind we have smaller but faster linemen that really get a jump on the opposition on turf and it showed. That springiness is removed on grass, and they seem to get manhandled by the bigger opposing linemen. No one is talking about it. Is this an accurate assessment, and is there any way to address it? SKOL!

— Don Van Meter in Maryland

Well, you aren't wrong about the Vikings record on grass, Don. The Vikings were 1-3 on grass in 2019, and are 9-11-1 on that surface since 2016 when U.S. Bank Stadium opened, shifting home games indoors. There's no covering up the losing record, and it doesn't help that the two most-recent playoff losses came on grass at San Francisco and Philadelphia and weren't particularly close. The Vikings also play away games at Green Bay and Chicago every year, and those aren't easy places to win, no matter what your record is.

Perhaps the Vikings are just a better team on turf? They always seem to play well at home and in places like Detroit and New Orleans. One thing I noted when the 2020 schedule came out last month was that there are a lack of outdoor/inclement weather games in the back half of the schedule.

The Vikings will play four road games in their final eight contests, beginning with Week 10 at Chicago. The other three roadies are at Tampa Bay (Week 14), New Orleans (Week 16) and Detroit (Week 17), meaning the Week 10 clash against the Bears could be the worst weather the Vikings play in during the final two months of the season. Tampa Bay is the only game in that stretch that is on grass.

Overall, the Vikings play 10 of their 16 games under fixed roofs and two more in venues with retractable roofs (Colts and Texans). Perhaps this helps the Vikings with another problem area, which has been making the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. That hasn't happened since 2008-09.

View photos of the top sack leaders of all-time for the Vikings.

One thing that has always stood out to me during training camps and practices are the red QB jerseys (for obvious reasons) however, given the strong heritage of the Vikings colour scheme, could these not be Yellow/Gold instead? I think they would look fantastic! Cheers!

— Graeme Smith in Edinburgh, Scotland

Thanks for your support from across the globe, Graeme. You pose an interesting point, but I think red jerseys are preferred because that color is associated with stop signs out in public. If the team were to switch, however, gold would be the color since purple and white are taken by the offense and defense.

Other teams with red in their primary colors do use different colored jerseys for quarterbacks in practice. The Chiefs use yellow, while the Falcons and Cardinals generally go with black. But most teams go with red, which is a clear sign for opposing defenders to not touch the man under center.

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