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Monday Morning Mailbag: Packers, Passing and Playoffs

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

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What was the biggest contributing factor in the loss to Green Bay – poor execution or too many penalties? To me, 100 yards lost/given on penalties hurt the most, simply because they allowed the Packers to extend drives and score points. I also wanted to say that Teddy's play, poise, and resiliency were very inspiring and very awesome to see on display. Tough loss, but I think we can bounce back and get back on track. -- Gabe Coon Rapids, MN

I agree it was penalties that hurt the most. A couple of dropped passes, allowing Aaron Rodgers to make plays out of the pocket and the missed PAT certainly didn't help, but it seemed that time and again penalties were putting the offense in difficult positions or extending drives for Green Bay. The Vikings weren't able to call many running plays on early downs and Teddy Bridgewater was under too much pressure, and both of those negative outcomes can be directly attributed to penalties putting the offense in difficult situations. What's more is that the penalties are out of character for this Vikings team. In the previous four games, the Vikings had 16 penalties for 148 yards, but on Sunday they were penalized 8 times for 110 yards.

Do you think Norv Turner will start Charles Johnson or use him more since Mike Wallace isn't performing well? The Bridgewater-Johnson connection was big last year and Johnson is a play maker. Why isn't he seeing more time on the field? -- Nathan Burgard

We'll have to wait until Sunday to see if there are any changes in the starting lineup. I'm not opposed to Johnson seeing more opportunities if the coaching staff believes he's earned it, but quite frankly I don't think it mattered who was running routes on some of Bridgewater's drop backs because he just didn't have a lot of time to survey the field and make decisions. The passing game shows flashes and even did so on Sunday against Green Bay, but the Vikings just seem a hair off from getting everything to click at once. Some plays the protection breaks down while other plays the receivers aren't open. Case and point is the deep pass Bridgewater threw to Wallace late in the game. Finally the protection was good and the receiver broke open on the same play, but then the QB and WR couldn't connect. The passing game doesn't seem far off but clearly still needs more synchronization.

After seeing the game against Green Bay, I honestly believe they are not a better team than our Vikings. But it seems Green Bay was better prepared mentally for today's game – proof of that are all the penalties we had, especially the personal fouls and unnecessary roughness calls. Do you think coaches should work more on making this team believe they are one of the best teams right now? -- Juan Parks Mexico City

Unfortunately, Green Bay was the better team on Sunday. Coach Zimmer said it in his press conference – sometimes you just have to give the other team credit. Green Bay deserves big-time credit for coming to Minnesota on a three-game losing streak and making more plays than the Vikings to stop that losing streak, end the Vikings winning streak and reclaim first place in the division. Yes, there was undisciplined play. There were some questionable calls/no calls. But even so, the Packers made more plays than the Vikings and that's why they won the game. If anything, the Vikings coaches will have a lot of teaching material from this game to show the players where they need to improve in order to become the team they believe they can be. What the players believe they are doesn't matter. They have to put the work in to improve and have the results to show for it.

With the Vikings and Packers both at 7-3 after this most recent loss, does that dim our playoff chances? And with the next two Green Bay games against Chicago and Detroit, could we still become NFC North champs? Staying positive! Skol Vikings! -- James Lucas Hutchinson, MN

Sunday's loss certainly didn't help the Vikings playoff chances, but it's easy to get wrapped up in a big game and overreact to one loss. There's no question a win would've been huge for the Vikings because it would've given the Vikings a two-game lead in the NFC North with only six games to play. Now it's Green Bay who has a (one-game) lead and the Vikings are sitting with the fifth seed in the NFC. Green Bay does have the more favorable-looking schedule in the next three weeks, but then they close with games vs. Dallas, at Oakland, at Arizona and vs. the Vikings. So it's not as if the Packers will coast home with easy wins the rest of the way. Yes, the Vikings can still become NFC North champs and they are in the driver's seat for a wild card spot if they fall short of a division title, but the more important point of perspective right now is the Vikings must fix some flaws and come out with a better result next week. The NFL is a one week at a time business. The rest of us can look around and look down the road, but players and coaches must keep their heads down and focus only on what is right in front of them. For the Vikings, that's a showdown in Atlanta against the Falcons next Sunday.

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