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Monday Morning Mailbag: Offensive Line Expectations Moving Forward

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I understand the moving parts and injuries along the offensive line. To this point we had managed. Sunday, however, was a major step backward. Shouldn't we expect better? -- Jason Upstate New York

Yes, the expectation is for a better performance than what we saw on Sunday from the Vikings, and that goes for more than just the offensive line. No one has higher expectations for this team than the team itself and no one gets more disappointed in falling short of the expectations than the team itself. I don't view the loss in Philadelphia as a major step backward for the offensive line. This is a group that's been decimated by injuries this season and it's going to take time for them to develop some synergy. That doesn't just happen overnight or over the bye week. The best course of action for them is to work this week to improve and figure out a way to help the team beat Chicago on Monday night.

What can I say but, "ouch?" Can you help explain how the bye week hurt us instead of helped us? -- Jim Larry

I don't think the loss had anything to do with the bye week. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said it wasn't a matter of rust coming off the bye or complacency because of overlooking an opponent. We know what a good team looks like because we look at one every week; the Vikings are off a very good 5-1 start and they've played well in all three phases up until this past Sunday. But the Eagles are a good team, too, and it's hard to beat good teams on the road. The Vikings got beat on Sunday, plain and simple, but now they get to go back to work to figure out how to get back on the winning track against Chicago. There are 10 games remaining in the regular season, which means there's no time to look back at this loss and plenty of work to do going forward.

Even though the Vikings defense played fairly well against the Eagles, they didn't get a lot of pressure on Carson Wentz. Why didn't they do more to confuse Wentz and create more sacks? -- Mark Burnham

I can't agree with the notion that the Vikings defense didn't do a good job against Wentz. They didn't have any sacks of Wentz, but that doesn't mean they weren't pressuring or confusing him. Wentz averaged only 4.9 yards per passing attempt and he had his lowest passer rating (52.4) of the season. He was also forced into three turnovers – two interceptions and a lost fumble (he fumbled three times). The Eagles had nothing going in terms of a downfield passing game and their offense generated only two field goals and a touchdown on the afternoon. There really isn't much to balk at when it comes to the defense's performance on Sunday. Wentz is a good player and it looks like he has a shot to be a great player, but he did not have a good day against Zimmer's crew.

Our defense put us in scoring position twice by creating turnovers. We were not able to capitalize. It would have been a whole different story if we were up 14-0 in the first quarter. We need to be more effective in the red zone. What is your take? -- Gerald Goblirsch

The Vikings defense was on point in Philadelphia, particularly early in the game. They forced turnovers on three consecutive drives in the first quarter, but the Vikings were unable to turn any of those turnovers into points. Gerald is correct in asserting that it could have been an entirely different game if the Vikings had at least put some points on the board following one of those turnovers.

In terms of red zone offense, negative plays are often the culprit when it comes to a lack of scoring. That was certainly the case for the Vikings in Philadelphia. In the Vikings first red zone possession, a false start on Rhett Ellison pushed the offense back from the Philadelphia 1 to the Philadelphia 6, and then two plays later Sam Bradford was hit as he threw and his pass was intercepted in the end zone. On the next red zone possession, the Vikings had another negative play; this time in the form of a sack that resulted in a fumble and Philadelphia recovery. Eliminate negative plays in the red zone and you'll see the scoring efficiency go up. The Vikings had been five of their last six in scoring touchdowns on red zone drives, so it's not as if the offense has yet to find its way down there.

This was tough to swallow, but I think it can make us better. We have offensive line issues that need to be fixed. When it comes to offense, it's all about jelling. When this does happen, we will be a team nobody wants to play. Go Vikings! -- John McGuire Lone Pine, CA

I agree that the Vikings can be a tough team to beat when they are clicking on all cylinders. But we should also be careful to toss all the blame at the feet of one position group or one side of the ball. For five straight weeks we lauded the Vikings for the way they were winning games – as a team. After one loss, we can't then start to point fingers at any specific aspects of the operation. It's about playing complementary football. John is right that when the Vikings do that, they are a tough team to beat. 

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