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Monday Morning Mailbag: Offensive Struggles

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag feature. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

To submit a comment or question to the mailbag, send an email to Mike Wobschall at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. Remember to include your name and town on the email.

Why didn't Teddy and the offense attack the Bears 28th-ranked pass defense? All we saw was a lot of check downs. Why didn't we exploit it more? -- Dave P.

A lot of things have to happen in order for an offense to attack through the air and down the field. The protection must be solid, receivers must get open and the quarterback must find the open receivers and deliver an accurate pass that is on time. On Sunday in Chicago, the protection seemed pretty solid for most of the game, which leads me to wonder if the hiccup in the attack had to do with Teddy Bridgewater being unable to spot the open receivers, the receivers being unable to uncover in time, or a combination of those two factors. In looking at the play calls, it's clear to me that Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner had a plan to attack through the air (just 15 runs all game for the Vikings), but it's also clear there were problems with the execution of that plan. Keep in mind, a lack of downfield throws is not necessarily the fault of the play caller because most plays have deep, intermediate and short options and it's the quarterback's decision as to where to deliver the ball.

Wasn't there something we could've done to change up our coverage of the Bears big receivers? Josh Robinson has been pretty good all season but anyone could see he was not able to cover (Alshon) Jeffery. -- Caleb D. Denver, CO

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said after the game that he did mix and match different coverages, but obviously nothing worked well enough play call-wise or execution-wise to get the job done enough. I understand it can be frustrating watching a bigger receiver use size to beat a smaller cornerback, but also remember that while Jeffery is 6-3, the Bears also have Brandon Marshall at 6-4, Marquess Wilson at 6-4 and TE Martellus Bennett at 6-6, so no matter how you slice it the defensive backs are going to be guarding a pass catcher with a significant height advantage. I actually thought Robinson was in good position most of the day, it's just the Bears receivers made better plays on the ball. At the end of the day, Jeffery and Marshall were targeted a combined 27 times and they came down with 18 catches for 225 yards and three touchdowns, and yet the defense still was able to give the ball back to the offense down by eight points with a chance to drive down the field and tie the game.

Considering that Teddy Bridgewater is so good in the two-minute drill and in no-huddle situations, why don't the  Vikings go to the no-huddle in the early portion of the game to jump start the offense and get Teddy in a rhythm? -- Michael Z. Sleepy Eye, MN

There are a couple of things to consider here. First of all, I agree that Bridgewater looks more comfortable in two-minute situations and the no-huddle offense. That's a credit to him for being calm and cool under pressure and in critical spots on the field. Secondly, you have to remember that often times in the two-minute situation, particularly when the defensive team is playing with a lead, the defense will be playing a lot of off coverage and soft underneath coverages in order to prevent big plays. That results in a higher completion percentage, but it also reduces the risk of big plays and forces the offense to consume more time while driving down the field. So, I do think Bridgewater is good in the two-minute situation, but I also think part of it is that the defenses are playing softer.

Lastly, there is also something to be said for wanting to help Bridgewater grow as a quality all-around quarterback. Using the no-huddle or hurry-up offense as a crutch any time he's off to a slow start is not a good way to develop him into a solid all-around quarterback.

I am frustrated to see us have a performance like that after a bye. I'm at a loss. Kudos to Bridgewater and Charles Johnson for finding some chemistry, but I saw no sense of urgency with either the offense or defense. -- Nick B.

You can most certainly be frustrated with the outcome of the game, but I feel it's an inaccurate characterization of the Vikings performance and effort to say they played without a sense of urgency. They played hard  for the entire game and, in fact, the Vikings jumped out to a 10-0 lead to open the game. A fake punt was executed, Bridgewater threw a touchdown pass, there was a goal line stand in there, a couple of interceptions, and a final surge at the end that came up short with under a minute to go. I'd say the loss was more a product of a lack of execution more than a lack of effort or urgency.

View images from the week 11 matchup at Soldier Field between the Vikings and Bears.

Are there any positives we can take from this latest loss? -- Jacque B. Washington DC

Yes, there are. There is nothing good about losing, but some positives things can transpire during a loss. A few things I would point to include:

-- It was encouraging to see the Vikings go on the road while coming off a bye and jump out to a 10-0 lead. Often times this season, the Vikings have started slowly and have had to play catch-up. On Sunday, though, they shed that trend and opened the game with a sizable lead.

-- The fake punt was fun to watch, showed some creativity and execution, showed that the coaching staff has confidence in the defense (to risk giving the Bears offense great field position), and now will have opposing teams spending more time preparing for fakes

-- Xavier Rhodes' first interception and the fourth interception of Harrison Smith's season were encouraging. The Vikings defense already has 10 interceptions on the season, just two short of last year's season-long  total with six more games to go.

-- Charles Johnson continues to develop and on Sunday made his most significant stride as a member of the Vikings. He was targeted seven times and came down with six receptions for 87 yards, including some big catches late in the game and on the final drive as the Vikings were aiming to tie the game.

-- The defense's goal-line stand early in the second half, which came after Chicago had driven 82 yards in 12 plays and was looking to go up 21-10. The Bears pushed the ball inside the Vikings 10 and gained two yards on 1st and goal from the 8. Then Jay Cutler threw twice to Jeffery – one was incomplete and the other for a gain of 5 yards to the 1. On 4th and goal from the 1, the Bears tried a sprint with Cutler but a host of Vikings, led by DT Tom Johnson, strung the play out and defended the last blades of grass to stymie the Bears 4th-down attempt.

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