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Monday Morning Mailbag: Starting Fast Will Be Critical Against Bears

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We cannot afford to start slowly against Chicago and in the playoffs. We need to put points on the board on the opening drive. It’s easier said than done. What do we need to do better?
-- Gerald Goblirsch

Eliminate negative plays. The Vikings were called for a false start on the first play of the game, backing them up from the Minnesota 2 to the Minnesota 1. There were plays for no gain on 2nd down of the second and third possessions and then Kirk Cousins was sacked on 3rd down of the third possession. Eliminating these negative plays (and also not having drives start at your own 2) will keep the offense on schedule with the down and distance, which will lead to longer drives and faster starts.

Why don’t the Vikings ever use both Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray at the same time? I think that would throw the defense off at times! Both guys are playmakers!
-- Patrick Crouse
@BigCountryBMX

Using Cook and Murray on the field at the same time is a strategy that could be employed occasionally, but it’s not something I would recommend doing too often. These two are used in concert to keep each other fresh. That’s the primary way they should be used. Using them simultaneously too often will wear them both down over the course of the game, and then the offense loses the advantage it has by having two starting-caliber backs to throw at the defense all game.

Another strong showing on defense. We cannot start off slowly on offense. We need get to get a total team effort for 60 minutes. I was glad the Eagles won. This way, it will make our Vikings take a step forward that could turn into a Super Bowl run because our best football has yet to be played. Skol!
-- John McGuire
Lone Pine, CA

I understand wanting to qualify for the playoffs on your own two feet and then heading into the postseason in great form and brimming with confidence. I’m on board with that. But at the end of the day, it’s about getting in no matter how you do it. So from that standpoint, it would’ve been nice to see the Eagles lose this week because then the Vikings would already be in the postseason. But that is not the case. The good news is the Vikings control their own destiny and they are on a two-game winning streak with a crucial win-and-in game next week at U.S. Bank Stadium. Controlling your own destiny with one game to go and that game being at home is about all you can ask for in this competitive league!

I like our chances against the Bears at home when everything is on the line for us. How do you play/scheme when needing to win this week but also knowing you have to play the same team the next week? Looking forward to my first game at U.S. Bank Stadium this week! Skol!
-- Jerry Provost

It is an interesting scenario but it’s certainly not unique. The Vikings faced Green Bay in Week 17 of the 2012 season before also facing them in the Wild Card round the next week. The approach for the Vikings will be to throw everything they have at Chicago this week because if they lose to the Bears then it may not matter what they’ve shown Chicago or what they’ve saved for the following week. If the Viking lose and Philadelphia wins, then the Vikings are out. I can’t speak for how Chicago will choose to handle the game. They have a chance to earn the No. 2 seed with a win over the Vikings and with a Los Angeles Rams loss, so I expect the Bears to empty the tank on Sunday, too. Essentially, this Sunday’s game will have a playoff feel for both teams, particularly the Vikings because their playoff appearance has not yet been secured.

Good to see back-to-back all around team wins. Penalties were no good but some were a little questionable I think. A little scary at first but looked great when the offense got going. Need another team win next week to keep the motivation going! Skol!
-- Kyle Alexander 

I agree with all of that. We’d be remiss not to mention special teams in describing the total team effort we’ve seen from the Vikings over the past two weeks. I don’t know that the Vikings special teams groups have strung together consecutive impressive performances like this yet in 2018. The last two weeks have been very good. Punter Matt Wile has been sharp, Dan Bailey is making all his kicks, the Vikings are allowing almost nothing in the return game and their own return game has been solid. Bravo, special teams.

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