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Monday Morning Mailbag: Struggles All Around

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I know we have won eight games and have pretty much exceeded expectations coming into this year, but with that I have known since the start that this team was a year away from being a true contender. Do you think this is more evident now that we are being exposed by good teams? As much as I want this team to win now I know that building a team that can contend every year takes some time. I really see this happening next year with another shot at the draft and having the coach we have. And just like every week, no matter the outcome, I'm still going to wear my purple proud as I walk through Bear Country! -- Jamie H.

Building a roster and striving to be a team that wins every year is a never-ending process, and I agree the Vikings are in a position to improve next season. But I also think the Vikings are a contender this year. The way they played against Seattle is not good enough to be able to contend, but it's also not a representative sample of how this team ordinarily plays. Ordinarily, the Vikings are a disciplined, tough, physical team that takes care of the ball and runs the ball well on offense, plays stingy defense and outperforms the opposition on special teams. The team has to put this one behind them, learn from it and keep their focus on what's ahead. All of the Vikings goals are still in front of them.

This team continues to be one dimensional on offense. Until we can prove to teams that we have a legitimate passing game, teams are going to stack the box and make Teddy beat them. Why is our passing game so flawed? Our receiving corps is full of talented players. -- Corey S. Sioux Falls

There are three primary components to the passing game that must work in some sort of combination. There must be protection for the QB, the QB must get the ball out on time and receivers must get open in time. Against Seattle, these components were not working in unison. There were times Teddy Bridgewater was protected, but then either the receivers weren't open or he didn't get the ball out in time. There were other moments when the receivers were open but Bridgewater wasn't protected well enough to give him time to deliver the ball. The passing game wasn't in synch on Sunday. The key now is to fix those issues and come out against Arizona with an improved performance.

Why did we limit Adrian Peterson so much? We went back to the formula we did when we played Green Bay and had the same result. We never gave the running game an opportunity to get going. -- Charles Nagely

There's no question the Vikings weren't able to give Peterson as many carries as they would prefer. He had only 8 carries for 18 yards; he also had 4 receptions. The Vikings handed it to him on three of their first four offensive plays and it netted only 6 yards. Peterson had two carries on the Vikings fourth possession, and by the time the Vikings got the ball a fifth time they were down 14-0 and in a two-minute situation right before the half. In the second half, the Vikings gave the ball to Peterson on two of the first three plays and then were in a 3rd and 14. By the time they got the ball again, they were down 28-0, and any thought of feeding the beast a bunch of times was gone. The Vikings got behind on the scoreboard early and then they got behind the chains several times, and those two factors combined put the Vikings in a lot of passing situations.

When will the Vikings make the decision to make this Teddy's team? We seem to play pretty well when we use the running backs in the passing game and target the tight ends. When we focus on Adrian, the defense knows it. -- Al Fjerstad

It's not about making the team about one player. In the question prior to this one, Charles thinks Peterson should have more carries. In the question above, Al thinks Peterson should be less of a focus. AT the end of the day, the offense needs both players to be heavily involved and it needs both players to perform well. There is no reason the two can't both play well together, and in fact they will each be at their best when the other is able to complement. They've done that in a bunch of games this season, and there is reason to believe they'll get back to doing that down the stretch here.

It's hard to not get down when you have seen many of these games over decades. Yes, any given Sunday you can win or lose, but you need to be able to come back and win these games. So what do we do now? How do we fix this, so we can not only get to the playoffs, but be competitive? -- Mike B. Goodwin, SD

You fix this one the same way you fix flaws after any other game – win or lose. I know it's easy to let the most recent game define your team's season. But that's not how it works. A team is what its record says it is, and the Vikings are an 8-4 team. They were 0-1 last week, but they won eight of 11 games before that and there's no reason to think the Vikings can't get back on the winning track and get to a point where they are playing well, and perhaps peaking, down the stretch. There is still a lot of football to be played.

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