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Monday Morning Mailbag: Defense Shines In Rams Win

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What are some of your key takeaways from the game? What stands out the most? -- Jessica D. Pensacola, FL

The five takeaways I wrote about in the aftermath of the Vikings game were: won the turnover battle, defense got off the field, playmakers made plays, the Rams pass rush was neutralized and the Vikings were able to flip the field position several times. I feel those were the five biggest reasons the Vikings defeated the Rams. But another important note for me coming away from this game is the fact the Vikings won a game on the road. For a long time, the Vikings have heard people tell them they failed to win a game on the road last year. This year's team doesn't have to hear that because they just won a game on the road.

I know it's only one game into the season, but what do you feel is the most improved area of the team? -- Clayton R. St. Cloud, MN

It's too early to make a determination on that, but so far I don't know how you could say it's anything other than the defense. The Vikings on Sunday didn't give up a touchdown, they registered five sacks and collected two interceptions, and the longest run they gave up was seven yards. On top of those statistics, they played with an attitude we haven't seen a Vikings defense have in a long time.

Huge win for our Vikings. The defense already looks a lot better than last year, and our offensive weapons are only starting to come to life. However I saw one huge thing in this game that I did not like, and that is the amount of penalties against us on both sides of the ball. We gave up a lot of yards, and field position, to the Rams. This is a mistake we can't afford to make when playing offenses that feature Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. What do the Vikings have to do in this week's practices to fix the mistakes? -- Kenny G. South Milwaukee

An important step in eliminating the penalties will be the process the team goes through in terms of watching tape of the game and learning from some of the miscues. Coaches will watch the tape first, then they will go through it with their players and I'm sure there will be discussions about how to avoid those penalties. The next step will be taking those discussions out onto the practice field and continuing to practice the right way. The Vikings were not a heavily penalized team in the preseason and I can promise you the coaches don't coach the players to commit penalties. On top of that, the Vikings will be at home next week and I'm sure that will help decrease some of the procedural penalties both the defense and the offense had. It's not good that the Vikings committed so many penalties on Sunday, but it's also not something I am worried about as being a long-term problem for this team.

View images from the regular season opener in St. Louis against the Rams.

Were the Rams caught off guard, or are the Vikings this good? -- Larry B.

I don't think the Rams were caught off guard. That's a good coaching staff over there in St. Louis and it's particularly a very good defense. They had all offseason to get ready for this game, as did the Vikings. Let's also remember that this was a complete grinder of a game in the first half. Nothing was easy, not even in the second half. I don't believe the score is indicative of the kind of season the Rams can have. With that being said, the Vikings played well. They played well on defense throughout the entire game, they were solid on offense in the first half and then in the second half the offense was spectacular, particularly given the fact they were playing a very good Rams defense and it was on the road.

Very impressive win against the Rams. How do you see the Vikings preparing for Tom Brady and the Patriots next week? GO VIKES! -- William V. Roselle Park, NJ

I see the Vikings preparing for the Patriots the same way they would prepare for any Week 2 opponent. Looking at the Patriots box score from Week 1, I see Tom Brady threw 56 passes and the Patriots as a team rushed only 20 times. This surprised me given the fact that New England was 10th in rushing yards, ninth in rushing attempts and tied for second in rushing touchdowns last year. I expect the Patriots will balance that out next week against us, but the Vikings should still be prepared for Brady to throw the ball all day, too. Defensively, the Patriots surrendered 191 rushing yards and a touchdown on 38 attempts, so perhaps the Vikings will look to see what the Dolphins exploited in terms of rushing defense. I anticipate a very angry, determined and focused Patriots team coming to Minnesota next week.

I'm a fan of aggressive football. It hasn't been since the days of Robert Griffith that I remember chomping at the bit to see our defense play. For seven years we've relied on Adrian Peterson to see some aggression from our team, but from top to bottom, the victory in St. Louis was smash-mouth football. It looks like Coach Zimmer brought his brand to Vikings football. The defense looked fast and ferocious. I loved it. This is going to be a very exciting season. SKOL! -- Alex Y. Toronto, Canada

I agree with Alex here. Coach Zimmer has been saying for a long time that Vikings fans are going to love the way their team plays. He was definitely right in Week 1 and I see no reason to be anything other than optimistic about this year's team going forward. One game at a time!

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