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Monday Morning Mailbag: The Impact Of Peterson's Absence

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Who do you think was more to blame for the loss? I was pleased with our defense for the most part. At some point it just isn't a team loss. With the exception of a bad special team play on that blocked field goal return I see our offense to blame. What's your opinion and what do you see as a solution? Thanks and go Vikings! -- Charles B. McMinnville, OR

It is a team loss. In football, you win as a team and lose as a team. It sounds clichéd, but it's true. Look at the number one factor that determines the outcome of games – turnovers. The Vikings were minus-four in turnover margin, a number that is an indictment on the offense for turning it over times AND the defense for not causing a turnover of the Patriots offense. I always hesitate to throw the blame of a loss at the feet of one part of a team because I know how intertwined every aspect of the team is, and Sunday's loss to New England is no exception. As Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said, everyone can do better and everyone needs to get back to work this week to be better. I am confident the Vikings will do that this week and the results will show next Sunday in New Orleans.

I know that Matt Cassel has proven his worth as a veteran starter and, in light of Adrian Peterson being out, deserves another week at least. But if he starts playing poorly consistently, do you think the Vikings will let Teddy Bridgewater take over? -- Austin M.

As Zimmer has said multiple times, the quarterback position will be held to a high standard just as other positions will be held to a high standard. The best players will play. The best part of having it set up this way is it's all a player can want – to compete and for the best players to play. Cassel wants it this way, Cordarrelle Patterson wants it this way, Captain Munnerlyn wants it this way. Yes, Cassel and the offense had their share of struggles on Sunday, but they are professionals and they will go back to work this week to make adjustments and improvements.

What was the impact of not having Adrian Peterson in the game? -- David C. Big Lake, MN

Vikings coaches and players will not cite Peterson's absence as any sort of excuse for how things unfolded on Sunday, but I can't help but to wonder how drastically different this game was for both teams without Peterson. Any sort of play action game, particularly early, is not going to be as effective without Peterson. Also, Peterson can stress different parts of a defense when he has the ball in ways that other players can't. Last week, for example, the Vikings offense had a great dynamic where Peterson was running downhill against the Rams interior and linebackers while Patterson was using his speed to run wide on jet sweeps and tosses. Without Peterson, this dynamic was virtually eliminated.

Another aspect of this to remember is the timing. It's not as if the Vikings (and the Patriots) had a lot of time to adjust for the absence of Peterson. Granted, it was an issue both teams had to deal with and a team can lose a key player early in a game as well and have to adjust on the fly, but even still it's hard for me to ignore the adverse impact the loss of Peterson had for the Vikings offense. It's not an excuse, but it was a factor.

View images from the home opener at TCF Bank Stadium as the Vikings played host to the Patriots.

With Adrian Peterson out and Matt Asiata not being productive on the ground, I would have expected at least a couple runs by Cordarrelle Patterson. But instead I didn't see any. Any thoughts as to why? -- YC Denver, CO

This is a fair question. Given how well the Patterson runs – both the jet sweeps and the pitch – worked last week and given how poorly New England played against the run in the second half last week, I was surprised to see the Vikings go away from this tactic on Sunday. Perhaps the offensive staff saw the negative run by Jarius Wright on his jet sweep plus the absence of Peterson to keep the defense honest in the middle as enough of a deterrent. Or, perhaps Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner wanted to stay away from establishing trends and instead was focused on putting other players in a position to succeed. This is something we won't know until Turner meets with reporters on Thursday, but I hesitate to question Turner's decision-making in this regard because A) he knows far more about play calling than I and B) we should also remember that the Vikings offensive staff was in a tough spot having to adjust their game plan just two days before kickoff and five days after beginning their game plan work.

Not the showing I was hoping for, but take the good with the bad. Why not in the 4th quarter put in Teddy Bridgewater and give him some reps against a good team? -- Jason M. Belle Fourche, SD

I understand the thinking here, but putting a rookie quarterback in the end of a blowout loss, particularly when part of the reason for the blowout loss is that the quarterback has been sacked six times, is not the best way to develop a young quarterback.

What do you think will happen to Adrian Peterson? -- Steven U. Southern Maryland

I don't know what will happen and there's no use in commenting on it until the Vikings make a statement.

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