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Monday Morning Mailbag: Vikings Establish Their Identity Right Out of the Gate

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I think the Vikings did something in Week 1 that took them all season to do last year – establish their identity! We’re a running football team that's going to play rock-solid defense and control the clock. While I don't see Kirk Cousins throwing just 10 passes each game, it’s nice knowing we don't need to rely on only one phase to dominate. Skol! 

-- Ray Bustos

The Dalles, OR

The way the Vikings won on Sunday is the way head coach Mike Zimmer loves to win football games. Tough, physical, smart play, along with complementary football, is what defined this victory. There are some things to clean up, for sure, such as the penalties. Overall, though, this was a solid, well-rounded win paced by an effective ground game, stingy defense and sound special teams play.

Aside from an overall great performance, quite a few offside penalties. Something to be concerned about or just a sign we're going to see a very aggressive defense?
-- Joe Partash
Pennsylvania

It’s something that needs to be addressed and corrected. Playing with aggressiveness is good. Trying to get a jump on the ball is good. But it’s not good to commit penalties and to let aggressiveness lead to sloppiness. A few of those penalties gave the Falcons 1st downs. The Vikings were able to overcome those mistakes, but they may not be able to overcome giving Aaron Rodgers free 1st downs at Lambeau Field next week.

Do you think the Vikings can be like a certain AFC team that has a different offense every game? With the weapons we have it seems they could go from a running team to a passing team from week-to-week. How do defenses plan against this early in the season? Skol Vikes!
-- Tony Suchy
Henning, MN

I know that when the term offensive balance is used, people think about play selection. They think having a similar number of runs and passes called in a game is balance. But I don’t believe this is actually the kind of balance coaches desire. True offensive balance is being able to execute well in the running game and in the passing game, and then being able to employ any kind of strategy that is required. For instance this week the Vikings were in a position where they built an early lead and wound up running the ball a bunch of times. They ran the ball effectively and this allowed the Vikings to maintain their lead and milk the clock. Inevitably, the Vikings will find themselves on the other side of the coin – in a big deficit early in the game or needing to drive down the field quickly at the end of the game. In that scenario, the Vikings will need to execute in the passing game to move the ball down the field. If they can do that, then we’ll know they have true offensive balance.

What an incredible win! Now onto the Packers at Lambeau Field. No easy task. Did you see anything in Thursday night’s game that the offense can exploit to get points? Or will the defense need to generate good field position as they did in Sunday’s game? Could be a defensive struggle. Need to stop the 4th quarter penalties.
-- Mike Boswell
Goodwin, SD

Hopefully offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski can find some things to exploit. What I saw was an improved Packers defense and I was particularly impressed with defensive tackle Kenny Clark. He appears to be an excellent two-gapping defender who possesses a combination of strength and athleticism that will require a couple of blockers on most snaps. Figuring out a way to neutralize him will be a challenge.

Great game, but still any concern with our defense? We gave up a lot of yards and running the ball was great but didn’t help in time of possession. Our defense was out there a lot a little over half. No turnovers on offense is great! 
-- Toby Smart
Alaska

Concern with the defense? I wouldn’t be concerned about much of anything defensively after that game. At one point, the Vikings led 28-0 and Atlanta’s possessions up to that point ended like this: three-and-out (blocked punt), interception, punt, fumble, punt, end of half, interception. It wasn’t a perfect outing because there were too many penalties and then the Falcons were able to score two touchdowns late in the game, but for more than three quarters the Vikings had an answer for everything Atlanta’s offense tried and they were pitching a shutout until 9:19 to play in the game.

I can’t remember when the Vikings got off to such a great start in the 1st quarter. Dalvin Cook looks great and he just has another gear that most running backs don’t have. l know we were protecting the lead, but it seems like our prevent defense just gives up yards and a couple scores. But you can’t argue the outcome of the game. Skol!
-- John McGuire
Lone Pine, CA

The Vikings got out to a significant lead early in this game and eventually built a four-touchdown lead. With a great defense and with the special teams playing as well as they did, coach Zimmer was right to play it the way he did. The defense was on point and the only way Atlanta could’ve gotten back in that game is if the Vikings made mistakes on defense to give up easy scores and/or mistakes on offense to give the Falcons a short field. I like the way coach Zimmer managed the game because it showed me he has a true understanding of the makeup of his team and he has the ability to identify which parts of his team are playing well on that day.

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