Monday Morning Mailbag: Run/Pass Balance, Cousins Rebounds, Tough Road Ahead

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Couldn't be more pleased with the Vikings performance against the Packers. There were a few questionable plays, calls and decisions, but all-in-all a team effort that translated into a win. The announcers kept saying that Coach Zimmer wanted us to run the ball more, but we kept passing. Does Zimmer ever override what the offensive coordinator calls? Does he have input on the offense or does John DeFilippo have autonomy? I would think that the head coach would have the final say.
-- Nicholas Balkou

As head coach, Zimmer has final say over everything the team does on the field both in terms of preparation during the week and execution during the game. I would guess there are times he provides input over the headsets to the offensive coaches, but I’d also guess that he trusts his coaches to do their jobs. Zimmer does want the offense to run the ball effectively, for several reasons. First, it creates a mentality that is conducive to being a good football team; good running teams are often very physical teams. Secondly, a lot of what Kirk Cousins does well (play action passing) is enhanced when the offense is able to run the ball. Ultimately, though, Zimmer wants the offense to score points. If that means 38 pass attempts are needed, as was the case on Sunday night, then so be it. But if that means 40 rushing attempts are in order, then Zimmer wants his team to be able to employ that approach, as well.

It was great to watch the team come up big when needed. They are going to need this momentum for the rest of this season. No easy games left. Can we keep this type of play up until the last snap against Chicago? Do you think we will get help and win the division? Skol Vikings!
-- Mike Boswell
Goodwin, SD

Yes, the Vikings can keep this level of play up the rest of the season. But that won’t be good enough. They need to use this win over Green Bay as a spring board to even better performances down the stretch. Head coaches spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get their teams to peak at the right time. And the right time is right now as we approach December and the final five games of the regular season. Whether the Vikings can get help from the Bears remains to be seen. Chicago’s final five games are at the New York Giants, versus the Los Angeles Rams, versus Green Bay, at San Francisco and at the Vikings. There are no cupcakes in there, so it’s possible the Vikings can get some help. More than likely, that Week 17 showdown with Chicago at U.S. Bank Stadium will have a lot on the line.

We have taken big steps with our defense the last couple games. On offense we did make progress and showed flashes, but still we haven’t put together great play in a consistent manner on offense that would make other teams stand up and take notice.
-- John McGuire
Lone Pine, CA

I’m not going to suggest the offense was perfect by any stretch, but I came away from Sunday night’s game feeling better about the offense than John is intimating. Kirk Cousins dropped back 40 times and was sacked twice and I thought we ran the ball to a satisfactory level. It was a good night for the offensive line. Cousins completed 16 passes on 20 targets to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Again, not perfect and still room for much improvement, but all-in-all a very good performance in which the offense didn’t turn the ball over, converted seven of 14 (50%) 3rd downs and put up 24 points after a slow start in the 1st quarter.

No turnovers. Ran and passed the ball. Won the time of possession. Sacked Aaron Rodgers four times. Kirk Cousins and Kyle Rudolph found each other. The kicking game and penalties need some work. I want to see a better game against New England. Skol!
-- Gerald Goblirsch

Well-stated! The most important stat referenced by Gerald is no turnovers. With how well the Vikings defense is playing, a team will be hard-pressed to beat the Vikings if they don’t take the ball away from them. The second-most significant stat referenced was the four sacks of Rodgers. With how well the Vikings can play in the back end on defense, generating that kind of quarterback pressure will suffocate opposing offenses consistently and put them behind the chains in down and distance, which leads to the kind of 3rd down performance we saw from Green Bay on Sunday night (two for 10).

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