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Monday Morning Mailbag: Room To Grow After A Critical Road Win

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. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

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Great road win. Awesome ad dominating first half. The second half was a different story. I want to see us put two solid halves together. We are young and improving. How long before we see two solid halves?
-- Gerald Goblirsch

I understand the Eagles fought their way back into the game by outscoring us 18-6 in the second half, but let's not ignore the fact that the Vikings made enough plays even in the second half to thwart the Eagles comeback attempt. The other guys are getting paid, too! Philadelphia has a ton of talent on both sides of the ball and they have the heart of a champion, which makes Sunday's road win that much more impressive for the Vikings.

What was one underrated part of the win and what is one area you most want to see improved for the Arizona game next week?
-- Jason
Phoenix, AZ

I thought the offensive line fought like heck and did a great job in this game, especially considering we lost Riley Reiff early in the game and we were facing a nasty defense in their own backyard with a loud crowd spurning them on. Kudos to Rashod Hill and Brian O'Neill for stepping up and I have to think Pat Elflein played well considering we didn't hear much from Fletcher Cox during the game. As for an area I most want to see improve, I would point to red zone offense. I know the offense has a high expectation of itself in the red zone, and one of four is a number they want to improve. Being better in the running game will help in the red zone, so that could be something to focus on this week in practice.

A win is a win. However, it wasn't worth writing home about. No run game. Defense still gave up way too many yards and almost gave the game away. Four trips into the red zone and only field goals. They have to put the ball in the end zone. The team still has plenty to work on.
-- John Larson

I definitely got a sense from fans that this week's win was welcomed but that the manner in which it came left a lot to be desired. At the end of the day, there are only 16 games in the regular season and wins are hard to come by, so there's no chance you're going to get me to apologize for a win. Ever. And most certainly not a win inside the house of the defending Super Bowl champions. With that being said, Big John makes good points. The Vikings were one of four in the red zone, so head coach Mike Zimmer will want to improve in that area going into next weekend's game. Yes, the running game can be better, too. And giving up 18 points in the second half is less than ideal. But this is a good scenario for a coaching staff – you get a victory but you still get to show up to work on Monday morning and provide plenty of input to the team on areas where they can be even better.

The defense played pretty well against Philadelphia. But as for the season as a whole, we don't seem to have the same flare. No doubt wishing the best for Everson Griffen in terms of his health, which is most important. How much of an impact do you think his absence is having on the spirit and drive of this defense? Not only his production on the field but also his vocal leadership?
-- Evan Beckford

Any time a player of Griffen's caliber in terms of on-field production and in terms of an emotional leader is gone, it's going to impact the team. This is no exception. The Vikings are a better team when Griffen is playing. At the same time, they aren't going to postpone games for Griffen or the Vikings, so the other players have to step up. We've seen that with the play of Stephen Weatherly, who sacked Carson Wentz on Sunday and forced the fumble that Linval Joseph recovered and ran back for a touchdown. I've also seen other players step up from a leadership standpoint, including Kirk Cousins getting in the middle of a pre-game huddle in Philadelphia to get the guys fired up. The Vikings have more than just Griffen when it comes to leaders and those guys have been stepping up in his stead.

All year we've been hearing "And they get Dalvin Cook back this year…just imagine!" Does this injury worry you for the long term or do we just need more patience?
-- Ray Bustos
The Dalles, OR

Injuries are always worrisome to some degree, but injuries are also an inherent part of the game. Obviously, Cook is close to returning because he actually played in the first half last week in Los Angeles. It's never good to have a player miss games, but at the same time I don't get a sense there's reason to worry about any long-term effects from this injury. Right now, the Vikings have a quality starter in Cook's place with Latavius Murray and they also have depth with Mike Boone and Roc Thomas. The sooner the better in terms of a return for Cook, but it's more important to make sure that injury is healed than it is to rush it back too early.