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Monday Morning Mailbag: Opening Up The Passing Game?

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Earlier this year, Adrian Peterson stated he is going to always seek high goals. That's how he rolls. I want to know if AP is still striving for that at this point in the season? -- James Moulds

I appreciate Adrian's lofty goal-setting. It's an admirable and inspiring (to teammates, hopefully) trait of his. But what I admire more about him is that he's a team-first guy who cares more about the team's goals than his own accolades. Whether he can get to 2,500 or 2,000 rushing yards remains to be seen, but it's secondary to the success of the entire team.

With Teddy performing like he did last week under the circumstances, could you see Norv using the passing game more to take off some of the pressure from AP? -- Hayden Lapinskie Jacksonville, FL

Coach Turner wants to be able to use both the run and the pass whenever he needs to. Some games, you need to be run-heavy. Some games, you need to be pass-heavy. And other games you need a good mix of both. The best offenses are the ones who can run when they need to run and pass when they need to pass.

Always easy to second guess after the Broncos loss, but why did we keep Teddy in the pocket the whole game, especially in the 4th quarter? With inexperience up front and Teddy's wheels and ability to throw on the run, let's eliminate half the rush and bootleg or sprint him out on the perimeter a few times. Is anyone else thinking this? -- Randy Las Vegas, NV

That is one way to deal with the pressure Denver's defense was able to produce, but it's not something an offense wants to rely on frequently. While sprinting out or bootlegging to one side can get the QB away from pressure, it also eliminates one half of the field for the offense and, thus, forces the defense to cover just one half of the field. Also, with OLBs Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware providing much of the pressure from the edge, sprinting out or bootlegging to their side could result in a quick conclusion to the play.

The Vikings offensive line seems to be having issues with protection and opening up running lanes. With all of our injuries to the offensive line, when can we expect some key offensive linemen to get back at their original positions and/or what do the Vikings need to do differently? -- Anthony Q. Fargo, ND

What's important to note about the Vikings pass protection issues is that they've come on the road. The Vikings have given up 12 sacks in two road games and just one sack in two home games. That tells me the problem is not with personnel, it's with functionality on the road. I don't see any major personnel changes coming up for the offensive line. The group they have can get the job done – they've proven it at home. They just need to clean some things up on the road. It will certainly help to get Sullivan back, but there is no definite timetable on when that will happen.

By design or perhaps Teddy's cautiousness, pass plays seem to be limited to short and medium distances. Do you think Norv might open things up more when the Vikings return after the break? -- Brian Johnson

Whether you're talking about protection or production, success in the passing game is a total team effort on offense. The Vikings may intend to open things up, but in order to do that an offense must first have the ability to do two other things. First, it needs to be able to pass protect for long enough so the QB can let WRs develop their routes down the field before the ball is thrown. Secondly, it needs WRs to beat coverage and get open down the field so the QB can throw it to them. Once the coaching staff is confident in both of those aspects of the offense, then you'll start to see more deep passes.

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