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Monday Morning Mailbag: Depth On Defense, Cousins' Great Performance, Special Teams Shines, More

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Great win on the road today. A necessary win. What do you say to those who believe that Kirk Cousins’ performance today was due to playing a beat up, below average Giants defense in a non-prime time game? Thanks and Skol!
-- Jerry Provost

You can only beat the teams they put on your schedule, and this past week for the Vikings it was the New York Giants who were on the schedule. Did Sunday’s win silence those critics who harp on the importance of showing you can beat teams with a winning record? No. But the Vikings have games coming up at home to Philadelphia and on the road in Dallas, Kansas City and Seattle, so there will be plenty of opportunities for Cousins and Co. to prove themselves in those circumstances, too. The objective this week was to find a way to beat the Giants, and the Vikings were able to do that in convincing fashion thanks to a balanced offensive attack, proper execution on special teams and downright dominant play on defense.

The depth on the Vikings defense is extremely great. When one of our players has to come out for a little bit, there is no drop in play. On offense, we show our explosiveness when the run and pass complement each other. The players must remember the love they have for the game and never stop having fun.
-- John McGuire
Lone Pine, CA

I am in complete agreement on the point of depth on defense. We’ve seen non-starters such as Mike Hughes, Jayron Kearse and Eric Wilson come into the lineup in starting or significant roles and the defense has maintained its high level of play. That is a great sign of depth as well as a great sign of the ability of the coaches to adapt. Offensively, the Vikings are at their best when Dalvin Cook is the focal point. That is not to take away from Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen. It’s just that when the defense is scrambling to find a way to contain Cook on the ground and through the air, they are then less able to also check Diggs and Thielen. If you have to try to defend Diggs and Thielen with single coverage, you’re in big trouble. And when Cook does what he did on Sunday in New York, the defense is forced to take those risks with the receivers. The Giants had to do that, and Thielen went off for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Cook is a legit MVP candidate.

Nothing beats winning! Many positives to take away from this game. My concern is that, if it were a closer contest, our penalties could have cost us the game. How do you perceive this issue? Are these penalties a product of a lack of player discipline or do our players need to be coached up on how to avoid penalties and the importance of it?
-- Randy Gronert
Las Vegas, NV

I can assure you with 100% certainty that the players have been told time and again how important it is to reduce penalties and play a clean game. That penalties continue to be an area that needs improvement is probably something that irks head coach Mike Zimmer. But, hey, there’s nothing wrong with having some coaching points even after a solid win. Zimmer and his staff definitely have the penalty coaching point to work on this week.

I want to applaud our tight ends for all the dirty work they are doing week-to-week. Can you talk about what is needed for them to become more involved in the passing game?
-- Bernie DeLeo

Very good point, Bernie. There’s no question in my mind the work the Vikings tight ends have done as blockers has been an unsung key to the success of the offense, particularly the running game. In order to become a bigger part of the passing game from a pass-catching standpoint, what the tight ends need to do is to keep doing what they’re doing. The NFL is a week-to-week league and I promise you that while right now the tight ends primary contribution has been blocking, there will come a game or even a stretch of games where the tight ends will have opportunities to and will be asked to contribute as pass catchers. It will happen…mark my words!

Let's talk about how good special teams looks right now! Dan Bailey is almost perfect on the season. One missed extra point and one missed field goal attempt through five games. Haven't been this excited about it in a long time! Skol!
-- Kyle Alexander

Amen! I mentioned the solid play of the Vikings special teams, particularly the battery of kicker Dan Bailey, punter and holder Dustin Colquitt and long snapper Austin Cutting, in this week’s 5 Takeaways article because they’ve been steady all season and they were near-perfect on Sunday. There was much consternation with this group during the spring and summer, but since the team decided to go with Bailey and Cutting and then sign Colquitt, this part of the roster has been playing lights out.

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