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Monday Morning Mailbag: Standouts In Seattle

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I think a lot has been made about Teddy not starting at quarterback, but with Coach Zimmer and Bridgewater not having much to say on it, I think it should be left alone for the time being. I do believe that the offensive line looked better even though it didn't show in the running game, and our pass defense looked good. What do you think our team needs to improve on most and which players stood out to you in this game? -- Jeff Sanders Kirkwood MO

Bridgewater is a fun player to watch and he's still very early in his development, so fans are eager to see him play and I think that has a lot to do with the consternation that came from his absence last Thursday night. The good news is Shaun Hill and the offense responded well and the Vikings were still able to have a productive night against the Seahawks. Standouts in the game for me were the pass rush, Marcus Sherels and Adam Thielen. Sherels can help the team in so many ways and on Thursday night he had the game-winning score on a pick-six. Thielen continues to catch everything thrown his way and led the team in reception (4) and receiving yards (61) in Seattle. My top standout, though, was the pass rush. Russell Wilson was sacked four times and Seattle was sacked six times total, and our own Craig Peters put together a pithy-but-insightful recap of those four Wilson sacks.

As for what needs the most improvement with two preseason games to go, it's hard to pinpoint one or two things. Rushing defense and offense as well as the kicking game could use some fine-tuning. Ultimately, everything needs more work because I don't think you'd get Zimmer to acknowledge anything as "season-ready" quite yet.

The offensive line showed that they have improved in the passing situations, but the running game seems to have struggled a bit. Is that due to the vision of the running backs or the lack of push from the line? -- Elijah Banks

The Vikings are averaging only 2.5 yards per carry in two preseason games, so it's natural for someone to look at that number and conclude the running game is struggling. But Zimmer did say on Saturday that he sees a lot of good things going on in the blocking and that against Seattle there were only a handful of miscues that prevented the running game from looking much better. Another important factor in this is that Adrian Peterson hasn't played a snap in the preseason. The running game is going to look much different and be much more productive once Peterson is carrying the ball. It's not that there isn't improvement to make, it's just that it's still a work in progress and Zimmer indicated things are moving in the right direction as the team heads into its third preseason contest.

What do you think of Mackenzie Alexander so far this preseason? -- James Falkowski @falkowski_james

It looks to me like he's done a lot of good things, from his interception in Cincinnati to just competing out on the practice field every day. Alexander loves the game, he wants to take every rep in practice that he can and he has a feisty demeanor on the field that you appreciate in a cornerback. He has the makings of being a good slot corner in the NFL and he's certainly in a position to learn from a quality player with Captain Munnerlyn ahead of him on the depth chart at that position. It'll be important for Alexander to be a sponge and soak up everything he can from veterans like Munnerlyn and Terence Newman while learning from coach Zimmer, defensive coordinator George Edwards and DBs coach Jerry Gray.

Even though Charles Johnson hasn't really disappointed in his first two seasons with us, do you see him as a potential "sleeper" for this season? And if not Johnson, who would you say could be the "sleeper" coming into this year? -- Ian Smith Strasburg, VA

I do think Johnson could be sitting on a nice season, and he would qualify as a sleeper considering he wasn't able to produce as much as he would've liked a season ago because of a rib injury. A lot of people cite the selection of Laquon Treadwell in the first round, the possible reemergence of Cordarrelle Patterson and the natural development of Stefon Diggs as reasons the passing game could be on an uptick, but Johnson is another reason for optimism. He has the combination of size and speed that should make him a valuable target for Bridgewater in the passing game.

This isn't a question, but just wanted to say that you have a family of die-hard Vikings fans in Malawi, Africa! We love the Vikings and thx! -- Caleb Gibbs Malawi, Africa

Vikings Nation is certainly worldwide. A frequent emailer, Levi, made the trip to training camp from Ghana, Africa this year and I was also able to welcome a great Vikings fan from England to camp this year. Hundreds of fans showed up for the practices in Cincinnati and there was plenty of purple behind the Vikings bench in Seattle on Thursday night. The Vikings have the greatest fans in the world. Skol!

Just a comment on Treadwell. From what I see, his physical God-given talent is a no brainer, however, it is his maturity that I am impressed with. How he handles himself in interviews with media. Always confident in his ability without being boastful or arrogant. From where I sit, his humility and humbleness will serve him well. Plus his work ethic. Hopefully in years to come he can continue to mature and become a real role model for the kids that is so needed in our society today. I do feel that the Vikings have many high-character guys that are a credit to Viking football and our culture as well. Thanks for all that you do. -- James

Thanks for noticing those qualities in Treadwell and the rest of the roster, James. Ever since he was hired as Vice President of Pro Personnel, now-GM Rick Spielman has preached the importance of finding good football players who are also great people, and that has been a value the Wilf family has held firm. So far, Treadwell has shown to be a diligent worker worthy of being a role model and I have no doubt that will continue throughout his Vikings career.

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