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Monday Morning Mailbag: Joseph, Sherels Come Up Big (Again)

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Teddy looked a bit shaky when he was making some throws, but the running game helped carry the offense. What should Norv do to help Teddy continue to develop positively? -- Cody C. California

Developing a QB is a process that takes time. Sunday was Bridgewater's 20th career start. Over those 20 starts, he has made great strides. There is still a lot of work to do and Bridgewater can get a lot better in a lot of areas, but it's hard not to be pleased about his progress so far and optimistic about what the future holds for him and the Vikings. It's easy to get nit-picky and have high expectations, but let's remember that Bridgewater is still young and developing and at the same time he's the starting QB of a team that is 6-2 and tied for first place in the division.

With all the heat Matt Kalil took last year for his performance, how would you grade his season thus far? -- Nick Laudon

Offensive line is typically one of those positions where you're only talking about them on Mondays if something went wrong on Sunday. We haven't been talking about Kalil at all this season, and so it stands to reason that he's probably playing well. If you go back and critically examine his play so far this season, though, the game tape will support that reasoning. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has been optimistic about Kalil's play dating back to the offseason program because he knew Kalil was healthy and had a better understanding of the offense. That is all starting to show now in games. I also think it's no coincidence that Kalil's improved play is happening now that Brandon Fusco is playing next to him. They seem to work well as a team on the left side.

With under two minutes to play, the ball and with the Rams having three timeouts, what was the thinking in calling a pass rather than just running the ball to run out the clock or make the Rams use their timeouts? -- Sharon Duluth, MN

At that stage in the game, the Vikings needed one 1st down to end the game. How they got it and on what down they got it didn't matter, they just needed a 1st down to end the game. Ideally, though, you want to make the Rams burn up as many of their timeouts as you can while you get the 1st down. My guess is the thinking was that St. Louis was going to sell out to stop the run and in so doing they may have been susceptible to leaving a receiver unguarded. If that were to happen, a simple throw to that receiver would net a 1st down and then the game would essentially be over because the Rams would have to burn one of their three timeouts on 1st down. So, the Vikings decided to call a safe passing play in which Hill could just take a knee if he were pressured rather than risk being sacked (and fumbling) or having to throw it away (and stopping the clock). At the end of the day, the sack in that situation is the same as a run. It keeps the clock going and forces the Rams to call a timeout. The negative about that play was the lost yardage, which then made it very difficult to get that game-winning 1st down and ultimately led to the Rams having enough time to mount a game-tying drive to send the game to overtime. It was an aggressive play call and I don't mind Norv being aggressive in that situation. The defense was keeping that game where it was and the offense was struggling to move the ball, and that was the offense's chance to simply end the game.

It looks so easy for Linval Joseph to demolish and make big plays against the centers and guards he faces week after week. But this week, in my opinion, was his best so far. Your thoughts? -- Jackson Schell

Joseph is having an outstanding season. I don't know that there's any DT playing better than him right now. The best part about it is that when he plays well it opens up opportunities for others to play well, too, and those other players have been cashing in on those opportunities. That's a big reason why the entire defense has played as well as it has. I don't know if Sunday was actually Joseph's best game of the season or not. It very well could have been. I'd say the main reason if may feel that way is because he led the team in tackles with 10 and also had 3.0 tackles for loss and a half-sack. Showing up in the stat sheet often leads to people recognizing your performance. There may be other games where he played better but what he did just didn't show up in the stat sheet. Or this could have been his best game. I'm not sure which one it is, but I am sure Joseph is playing well right now and is deserving of your Pro Bowl vote.

With Teddy Bridgewater undergoing concussion protocol, will the Vikings prepare for Shawn Hill to start or wait it out and see where it goes throughout the week? -- Tyler B. Bloomington, IL

There is no official update or report on Bridgewater's status here; that will be left for coach Zimmer to provide when he meets with reporters. But it only makes sense to prepare for all scenarios, so I would imagine the Vikings will go about their business as if Bridgewater is going to play Sunday but they will also make sure both Hill and Taylor Heinicke are up to speed and ready to go.

If the season ended today, do you think (Marcus) Sherels gets a special teams Pro Bowl nod? -- Darrin Brown @Brown23x

Sherels certainly deserves a Pro Bowl nod for the way he's playing this season. I don't know if he'd capture the fan vote or even the vote of his peers and coaches around the League necessary to be named a Pro Bowler, but I do know he's doing things that are helping the Vikings win games. Last week in Chicago he had a 65-yard punt return TD and led the team in special teams tackles with two. His punt return TD in the 1st quarter was as important a play as there was in the game even though it happened early because it put points up on the board at a time when the offense was struggling to move the ball. On Sunday against the Rams, Sherels was solid returning punts all day but then he returned a punt 26 yards in overtime that was crucial to the Vikings game-winning drive. With Bridgewater out and the Rams keying on the run, Sherels' big return took a lot of pressure off the offense and set them up with great field position (Minnesota 49).

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