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Monday Morning Mailbag: Vikings DL Rotation, Cousins in 2-Minute & Postseason Ponderings

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It seems that the DL rotation has been better this year, which allows for fresher legs late in the game. Is that my imagination, or do the stats back that observation?

– Steve F.

I'm going to avoid getting into calling one season "better" in that area because Coach Zimmer and Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson often emphasize that stats don't tell the whole story, particularly when it comes to pass rush. 

But that being said, I think it's fair to say that the Vikings have used a lot of variety with their DL rotation this season and seen positive results. Stephen Weatherly and Ifeadi Odenigbo have not only provided depth at defensive end, but they've also worked on the interior. Jaleel Johnson has filled in admirably for Linval Joseph at nose tackle, and Shamar Stephen, who started his NFL career with the Vikings, has been a great return addition after spending the 2018 season in Seattle. 

It also helps that Everson Griffen is having a great season, including having 7.0 sacks, and Danielle Hunter continues to seemingly improve every year. He has 8.5 sacks so far this season.

It will be interesting to see the approach the Vikings take with the DL rotation tonight in Seattle when Minnesota faces an extremely mobile quarterback in Russell Wilson.

If we continue to be a Wild Card seed, would we still have to go to the Cowboys/Eagles versus them coming to us, even though we beat them during the regular season?

– Bob H.

The issue here is that the winner of the division always hosts, so if the Cowboys (who currently are leading the NFC East) make the playoffs with a division title, then yes, the Vikings (if a Wild Card) would play on the road in that matchup. 

Dallas currently is the No. 4 seed; if it stays there, Minnesota would need to be the No. 5 seed to play in Dallas.

The Vikings are the No. 6 seed right now and would be visiting Green Bay if the playoffs started today.

Kirk seems unstoppable in the two-minute. Why don't they settle him early and then sit back and control the clock?

– T.J. from Alexandria

Kirk Cousins certainly has been impressive when the Vikings go to tempo offense, and I think that especially was on display against Denver when Minnesota executed a second-half comeback.

It's important to remember, though, that each game situation and each opponent dictates a different game plan. And if two-minute is implemented early on and doesn't go as planned, it backfires by returning possession to the other team quickly.

The two-minute offense inherently has fewer plays to pick from, which could start helping a defense know what to expect. Cousins also has performed well under center, and Dalvin Cook has been spectacular this season.

We've seen Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski push tempo from time to time within drives, either to catch a defense off-guard or with a certain personnel grouping, and I'd expect that to continue to be the case.

The Vikings offense could get quite a boost in confidence when facing future two-minute drills from the Denver game, which can only help going forward.