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Monday Morning Mailbag: Addressing The Issues With The Offense

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

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I had high hopes for this game. But we got beat by their front seven on defense and that was without two of their starters in the lineup. When you get beat by the front seven, the secondary can play fast because they know the running game is shut down and pressure will get to the quarterback. How did you see it?
-- John McGuire
Lone Pine, CA

When it was announced 90 minutes before kickoff that both Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith were inactive, you couldn't help but see that as a good opportunity for the Vikings offense, especially as it pertained to running the ball. Unfortunately, some on the Bears defense also saw the Hicks and Smith absences as opportunities because the depth players showed up and so did the defense as a whole. Chicago played with great physicality and was able to shut down the NFL's leading rusher (Dalvin Cook). As pleased as the Vikings offense should have been with its ability to run the ball through the first three weeks, they must now be equally as critical of themselves as they diagnose mistakes made in the Chicago game and get ready to play the New York Giants next weekend.

Can you provide insight into why we had so much difficulty moving the ball downfield? The Bears defense obviously stopped the running game and put pressure on Kirk Cousins, but why weren't we able to adjust and get the ball out quicker?
-- Bernie

It's a good question because the Vikings certainly have a pair of receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen who can win versus coverage and get open down the field. Also, the Vikings knew Chicago would have a chance to pressure Cousins so I'm sure there were plans in place to try to neutralize the Bears rush. Unfortunately, a number of things combined to limit the Vikings ability to move the ball downfield. One example was early in the game when Thielen got past the Bears defense and was wide open deep down the field. Cousins was protected well and had time to deliver the ball. Unfortunately, the ball was slightly overthrown and the Vikings couldn't close on a golden opportunity to score. Then there were other times when Cousins had time but no receiver were open. And there were times when Cousins was pressured too quickly; the Bears had six sacks during the game. So it's hard to pinpoint one reason why the Vikings struggled to move the ball explosively because there were a variety of issues that popped up during the game.

Do you think Gary Kubiak and Kevin Stefanski will have a lot of the blocking problems in the run game solved in short order?
-- Brad Lewis

The coaching staff and players made too much progress from the end of the last season to not for me to doubt they can fix problems presented by the Bears on Sunday. The Vikings had the leading rusher and the No. 2 rushing offense heading into Week 4, and that is a large enough body of work for me to believe they aren't the equivalent of a blind squirrel who has found a nut. This is a group of coaches and players who've improved the rushing attack tremendously and who, I believe, will be able to diagnose and solve, or at least work around, the problems created by Chicago in time to put forth a good effort and good production against the Giants.

Why didn't we blitz more? Their quarterback seemed to have too much time. They nickeled and dimed us.
-- Gerald Goblirsch

The Vikings finished with just one sack for the game while a backup quarterback went 22 of 30 for 195 yards and a touchdown on them. I understand many will be frustrated with all of that. But let's also keep in mind that the Vikings defense permitted just one touchdown and 16 total points. They held Chicago to five of 16 on 3rd down and one of four in the red zone. They gave up only 2.2 yards per rush and an even more impressive 4.0 yards per play. It's hard to find much fault with the Vikings defense given the hand they were dealt and how much they were on the field. Also, give credit to quarterback Chase Daniel for getting the ball out quickly and head coach/play caller Matt Nagy for using the quick passing game to combat the Vikings pass rush.

With an 0-2 record in the division and a poor showing Sunday, how does this team get back into contention with a one-dimensional offense?
-- JD Tonn

Depending on who you play, when you play them and some other circumstances surrounding particular games, sometimes a win or a loss feels like two wins or losses. That may be the case for this game. With both Detroit and Green Bay losing this week, it felt like the Vikings had a great opportunity to make up ground with an upset win over Chicago. So the loss stings and it can cause some pessimism to creep into the mindset. But that pessimism must subside and it must do so quickly because you don't want one loss to lead to another. The Vikings must channel their frustration into determination to improve so they can get back on the winning track next weekend against the Giants. There is a lot of football left to be played and while it might not seem like it in the immediate aftermath of a thorough defeat at the hands of a division rival, the Vikings have all their goals still in front of them and have plenty of time to right the ship and chase down their division foes.