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Monday Morning Mailbag: Depth Being Tested, Cousins' Day vs. Jets, More

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It shouldn't have been that close, but it was a hard-fought win nonetheless. We need to continue featuring a steady diet of the run to open up our passing game beyond the sticks.
-- Nicholas Balkou

Shouldn't have been that close? The Vikings won by 20 points and outscored the Jets 27-10 in the second half. On the seven possessions following the Jets 1st quarter touchdown drive, the Vikings allowed -4 net yards, one 1st down and forced two turnovers. I understand the Jets cut the lead to 10 early in the 4th quarter, but from that point on the Vikings scored the game's final 10 points and intercepted Sam Darnold twice. There are no easy wins in this League. The Vikings went on the road to face a team that had won two straight at home and was in good form, and they won by three scores. I agree the running game can get better, but Latavius Murray was solid today and the offense was able to move the ball when it needed.

Jayron Kearse, Roc Thomas, Holton Hill, Jaleel Johnson, Brandon Zylstra, Mike Boone, Jayln Holmes and Eric Wilson…as much as starter injuries freak me out, I do look forward to watching these backups get out there and smash it! Kudos to Rick Spielman and the coaching staff for the depth of this team. I truly believe they can be trusted to man up! Your thoughts?
-- Rick Roder
Remsen, IA

Totally agree. In fact, I wrote something along these lines for last week's Final Thoughts piece because the performances of players such as Anthony Harris, Latavius Murray and Stephen Weatherly had impressed me so much. I'm anxious to go back and re-watch the game carefully to see how Danny Isidora fared while replacing the injured Tom Compton. Unfortunately, injuries are a major part of life in the NFL. No team can avoid them and the team's ability to survive them depends on the ability of its depth players. The Vikings are in good shape in this regard and that was on display against the Jets on Sunday.

Great to see the backups step up when called upon. With that said, in the 4th quarter with 10:58 to play and the Jets with ball on the Minnesota 18, the play clock clearly was down to zero before the ball was snapped and they scored a touchdown with no flag thrown for delay of game. Is this a challengeable play?
-- John McGuire
Lone Pine, CA

This is not a reviewable play. How it's been explained to me is the officials watch the play clock to hit zero. Once it hits zero, they move their eyes from the clock to the football. If the football hasn't been snapped, then it's a delay of game. If the football has been snapped, then it's not a delay of game even though technically there's a chance the ball was snapped after the clock hit zero but before the officials' eyes made it from the clock to the ball. This is a slight advantage for the offense, but it's the only way the officials can monitor the rule. You can't have your eyes on both simultaneously, obviously, so this is the way the officials are taught to execute.

Kirk Cousins threw two highlight touchdown passes that were hauled in as equally highlight-worthy catches. His passing acumen deserves more attention in the national media than it is getting. Also, no fumbles for Cousins despite some strong pressure at times. Excellent! But, there were more batted balls…enough to raise at least one eyebrow of concern.
-- Jeff Kilty
Sacramento, CA

Yes, Cousins has played great for the Vikings through the first seven games. The Vikings are averaging 25.2 points per game and a lot of the point production is coming because of Cousins razor sharp accuracy and quality decision making. Cousins had several spectacular moments against the Jets, including the 34-yard touchdown toss to Thielen and two other crucial 3rd-down conversions to Thielen – a 13-yarder on 3rd and 8 from the 50 in the 3rd quarter and a 21-yarder on 3rd and 6 from the Minnesota 43 in the middle of the 4th quarter. In fairness, thought, this was not Cousins' best outing of the season, and he'd be the first to acknowledge that. That's where complementary football comes in. The defense was up to its dominant form again and Murray contributed with several big runs, including the 38-yard touchdown in the 4th quarter. This was a quality, all-around team win where all three phases had significant contributions; that's what ultimately led to the wide margin of victory.

Kyle Rudolph is capable of great things, but we have not seen a lot of production yet. Do you think we will see a 100-yard, two-touchdown game from him this year?
-- Gerald Goblirsch

Rudolph's number was called just once against the Jets, but remember he did have a seven-catch, 72-yard game in Week 2 and he caught two touchdown passes in the season's first three weeks. So while his number was called only once against the Jets, he remains an integral part of the offensive attack and it wouldn't surprise me to see him grab two touchdowns in a game. I wouldn't worry about the one-catch game against the Jets. The Vikings have a lot of weapons on offense and not all of them can be bell cows in every game.

Latavius Murray ran the ball okay with 15 carries for 69 yards and Adam Thielen again eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark, but do you think the unsung hero for the game was kicker Dan Bailey, who was three of four on field goals and four of four on extra points?
-- Kris Arndt

Bailey did miss from 42 yards, but it was clear the wind was stronger than anticipated and it clearly held up the attempt. Outside of that, Bailey did a great job place kicking and it appears he's calmed down the Vikings place kicking position. Hopefully he has a busy night in store at U.S. Bank Stadium next Sunday when the high-flying New Orleans Saints offense comes to town.