Monday Morning Mailbag: Breaking Down An Historic Border Battle

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Seems like Viking fans are hanging their hat on the fact that we have the No. 1 defense. But that was 2017. What do you think the Vikings need to do after these first two games to bring their No. 1 defense into 2018?
-- Kris Arndt
Utah

The defense is off to a pretty good start in 2018. I agree it’s not yet as sharp as last year’s defense was when it was at its peak, but we’ve only played two games so there is still opportunity to improve and peak at the right time. The Vikings only allowed one Packers offensive touchdown on Sunday, held Green Bay to four of 13 (31%) on 3rd downs and kept Aaron Rodgers and Co. out of the end zone on four of five red zone drives. Yes, there are things to clean up, such as some missed tackles and uncovered receivers. All in all, though, this defense has done a lot of good things and has a chance to be elite in 2018.

What happened to our special teams? Of the three phases, that is the one that has seriously regressed. Blocked punts, short punts, missed kicks, terrible coverage. Mike Priefer is one of the better coaches but this struggle has been real all through preseason and now the regular season.
-- Ray Bustos
The Dalles, OR

The Vikings have had some really good overall special teams groups with Priefer as the coordinator since 2011. I have a high level of respect for the way coach Priefer handles his business and for the results he’s helped deliver in six-plus years. It seems that whenever something needs to be fixed or whenever there’s a point of emphasis to be made, the Vikings special teams group does a good job of regrouping and responding. That’s what I expect Priefer’s group will do following Sunday’s performance. We should also note, to be fair, that Mike Hughes had a 46-yard kickoff return, which led to a touchdown on the ensuing offensive series, and the Vikings coverage units were good. So there were some positives to carry over into this week in addition to several areas that need to be addressed.

What is the best way to handle the kicker situation? Our kicker has had two games where he missed all field goals. I understand it is early in the season, but is it better to either go after another kicker in free agency, trade for an experienced kicker or stick with the young guy and just see if he can turn it around?
-- Ramon Rietveld

That’s a question that will ultimately be answered by coach Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman. Together, they need to decide which direction they want to go. Obviously, confidence and trust needs to be rebuilt following Sunday’s three-miss performance. There is often times a learning curve and growing pains associated when young players are put into prominent positions, and that is certainly what happened with Carlson on Sunday. It’s worth noting, though, that all three phases will come into work on Monday and watch the tape. They will all identify things that they could’ve done better that could’ve helped lead to victory. In this game, you win as a team and lose as a team. And this week, the Vikings also tied as a team.

First of all, I’d like to say that I’m not to overly concerned with the kicker. As we all know, rookies come with growing pains and I’d rather see it in Week 2 than in the playoffs. I’m sure coach Zimmer and his staff will correct the problems. Secondly, can we give the offense a high five!
-- Jorge Dominguez

There was good back and forth between Green Bay’s defense and the Vikings offense in the first half, but then in the second half the Vikings offense put the pedal to the medal and was able to move the ball and score points, generating three touchdown drives in the 4th quarter of 71, 75 and 60 yards, plus adding a clutch two-point conversion and also getting into field goal range twice in overtime. So, yes, let’s give the offense a high five!

Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were explosive! Is there any doubt this is the League’s best wide receiver duo?
-- Chris
Melbourne, Australia

There’s no doubt in my mind! They combined for 21 catches on 26 targets for 259 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday. Obviously that’s the best combined performance for them in their careers together, but we’ve seen these two produce simultaneously for a few seasons now. I don’t know that it’s fruitful to get into ranking duos across the League because then you get into a situation where it looks like you’re slighting other great duos, which defeats the whole purpose. All I know is Diggs and Thielen are my duo and I’ll roll with them against any defense in the NFL.

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