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Considering his performance this weekend do you think it's likely that Jerick McKinnon will see more snaps than Matt Asiata this Thursday? Or will we stick to our two-back scheme displayed towards the end of the Falcons game? -- Leuan Cardiff, Wales
The Asiata-McKinnon mix used in Sunday's game was so effective that I don't see why the Vikings would change much of anything, particularly on a short week. Atlanta clearly could not contain this combination and I would make Green Bay defend it before I would change it. Also, it should not go unmentioned that the Vikings offensive line and fullback Jerome Felton were absolutely dynamite on Sunday in opening up holes for the running game (Vikings averaged 5.5 yards/carry) and protecting Teddy Bridgewater (no sacks).
Asiata was on the field for 44 offensive snaps, and in those snaps he touched the ball 23 times. On those 23 touches, Asiata accounted for 100 yards and three touchdowns. McKinnon was on the field for 32 offensive snaps, and in those snaps he touched the ball 19 times. On those 19 touches, McKinnon accounted for 152 yards and no touchdowns.
Great game against a tough team. I was really surprised and pleased with the productivity we had on offense. I was curious as to why Teddy Bridgewater was holding onto the ball so long when handing the ball off to Matt Asiata? It seemed like he was running with Asiata while he was handing off the ball, and I've never seen that before by a quarterback. -- David H. Rochester, NY
That technique is a fundamental aspect of what many call the read-option. The read-option attack is one used primarily at the high school and college level but is now being used more and more at the NFL level because of the increased number of quarterbacks with the athletic ability to run and because it puts another level of stress on the opposing defense. The reason Bridgewater holds onto the ball for an extra count is because he's reading a particular defensive player before deciding to either hand it to the running back or keep it himself. If the player he's reading hesitates, Bridgewater will hand the ball to the running back. If the defensive player crashes on the running back, then Bridgewater will keep the ball.
Great game against the Falcons! Loved the way our team played all game. I especially enjoyed the Teddy Bridgewater and Jarius Wright chemistry/connections. How has Wright improved his game as a receiver in the last few weeks, or rather the whole tenure of the new coaching staff thus far so that he shined throughout Sunday's win? Also, do you think Wright is overlooked sometimes with Jennings and Patterson on the roster? I think he can be a valuable weapon on offense if properly used. Your thoughts? -- Levi B. Apple Valley, MN
I wouldn't point to any specific areas of improvement in Wright's game of late that led to his production on Sunday. Wright has been a quality performer for the Vikings ever since the new coaching staff took over, and I think his production on Sunday was a function of hard work meeting up with opportunity. The Falcons defense was doing certain things to take away Cordarrelle Patterson, and so the Vikings offense responded by using other weapons to take advantage of the Falcons overcompensating for Patterson. That's not to take anything away from Wright whatsoever. Wright had a great day – eight catches for 132 yards – and I also credit Bridgewater for not forcing it to his best playmaker and instead looking in other directions to utilize some of the other talented offensive weapons in the Vikings arsenal.
View images from Sunday's game against the Falcons.
Great win for the Vikings! Played strong all game and it showed up as a win. I feel like in this game we used Wright in the ways that most see us using Cordarrelle Patterson. As much as I like Wright, I feel like if we don't give Patterson the reps and looks he won't be able to develop as fast and showcase his talent. I'll admit I didn't get to see the whole game, but I would have liked to see a lot more of Patterson involved into the game plan. What do you think? -- Tyler L. Albany, OR
I can assure you Patterson was very much involved in the game plan. But we have to remember that teams are now very aware of Patterson's ability, and with Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph out of the mix you can expect that containing Patterson will be the defense's top priority on a weekly basis. With that being the case, it's incumbent on Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner and Bridgewater finding ways to incorporate other offensive options to take advantage of what teams are doing to stop Patterson. If teams are going to roll a safety over the top of Patterson, then the Vikings must utilize the other half of the field. That's what I believe led to Wright's production on Sunday, and that's what I believe the Vikings will continue to do. If the Vikings can continue to do that, then defenses will have to take away the extra help from Patterson's side and that will once again open things up for No. 84.
I liked how the defense responded in the 4th quarter coming up with some big plays to put the game away. The 3rd down defense was pretty shaky for most of the game, though. Why do you think they struggled so much getting off the field on third down? -- Brandon L.
After going back and looking at each of the Falcons 10 conversions on 3rd down, I didn't find one common thread for the Vikings defense beyond the fact that Atlanta just did a better job of making plays. Atlanta picked up eight of those 1st downs by passing and two by rushing, the average length of conversion was 6.4 yards, and there were two touchdowns in those 10 conversions. What stings the most about the Vikings 3rd-down defense, though, is the length of some of the conversions allowed – one from seven yards, two from 10 yards and one from 20 yards. Given that the majority of the conversions were through the air, my guess is Vikings coaches will stress the importance of the pass rush getting home in time to prevent throws as well as the coverage tightening up.
I think it is worth mentioning the brave play calling by Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner on Sunday. The long field goal and going for it on 4th and goal showed trust in the team. I just wanted to give a shout out to the coaches. -- Dustin F. Burlington, NC
I agree. I feel Zimmer got it right at two critical junctures in the game. One was going for it on 4th and goal from the 1 while trailing 28-27 and then also going for the two-point conversion after the touchdown. The other was kicking the field goal at the end of the game. Deciding to kick the field was crucial because converting the try basically iced the game, but missing the field goal would've given Atlanta's offense a short field in an attempt to tie the game. I know Walsh missed a kick earlier, but we all know how solid and reliable he is, so I'm glad Zimmer relied on that confidence to guide his decision-making. Coaches talk all the time about wanting to put their players in a position to succeed, and that's what Zimmer did with Walsh at the end of the game.