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Monday Morning Mailbag: Vikings Fans React to Season-Opening Win Over Packers

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

Click here to submit a comment or question to the Mailbag. Remember to include your name and town on the email. If Twitter is your jam, you can send a question to me that way as well.

A quick congratulations to Head Coach Kevin O'Connell and General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah for their first NFL victory in their respective roles. They've collaborated for months and were intentional with their plans and action to enable as many things go well as possible in Week 1 against a good team that experience a couple of key absences.

Minnesota's newcomers revealed some elements of what the Vikings saw when they brought the players in during free agency, and returnees also thrived for a 23-7 victory.

There will be a lot of football and even a flip of the calendar before these teams meet again at Lambeau Field in Week 17, but Sunday's showing was solid.

Hi Guys,

Lifelong Vikings fan and first-time Monday morning mail-bagger here! What a team win yesterday! We loved cheering them on as they dominated the Packers! 1-0!!

I am curious why you think the offense settled to run every play into a loaded box with almost four minutes left in the game and having three timeouts? That ultra-conservative play at the end of halves and games, stirs up some deep emotions for this Vikings fan. I would have loved to see them really go after a 30-7 win!! I'm sure there is a lot that goes into it, so I wanted to pick your brain. Thank you for all the great content!

— Josh Holforty in Lakeville

Josh, welcome to the Monday Morning Mailbag community as a participant. I enjoy doing this as an opportunity to connect with our fans and appreciate everyone sending in their thoughts. We try to include as many as possible and reply to all.

About the only thing missing from Sunday's win was a snap in the victory formation. Maybe the next best thing is seeing Aaron Rodgers on the bench because the Packers have put reserve Jordan Love in with 1:02 remaining.

I think the answer is, at that point in the game you are asking about, the best thing to do is use as much clock as possible.

The Vikings got the ball back with 3:45 remaining after an impressive pass breakup by Eric Kendricks on a fourth-and-1 pass toward the end zone.

Minnesota opened with a 16-yard gain by Cook that forced Green Bay's first timeout at 3:37. A 6-yard run was followed by another timeout. The Packers burned their third timeout after a 3-yard run by Cook on second-and-4.

Alexander Mattison then entered and gained 6 on a third-and-1. That play started with 3:28 to go, and Minnesota's next snap was taken at 2:44. A run on that play, even though it lost 1, took the clock all the way to the 2-minute warning.

That was Green Bay's last opportunity to stop the clock.

Minnesota made a slight miscue when Cook allowed his momentum to carry him out of bounds after a gain of 6 on third-and-13. The Vikings punted the ball back to the Packers with just over a minute instead of about 20 or so seconds.

Here's what O'Connell had to say about closing out the game (after all of last year's close calls either way, I agree):

Love the way we ended the game. Would've loved to end it taking a knee, but when they know you're going to run it, and to get the big fellas in there and lean on them a little bit, love the way our backs were running throughout the day. It's a tough team to run the football against, and we were able to be at least efficient and stay on schedule," O'Connell said.

Nice to win our first game of the year. I'm still a little concerned about second half play. I was also impressed with defense but also know Aaron Rodgers really doesn't have any receivers.

— Toby in Alaska

Well it was quite the coming out party for the boys in purple. Casual observations of concern, however, it seems our 3-4 defense leaves us open to the run. Good thing that [Christian] Watson didn't catch that deep ball on blown coverage — otherwise a different game. Also our ground game has changed, so those big holes aren't there for Cook and company. He'll be effective I'm sure. Next week, Eagles.


— Nicholas Balkou

The Vikings weren't as explosive in the second half, but they didn't have to be, in part for what Toby references regarding the production by Packers receivers, and in part because they didn't need to score more.

Romeo Doubs led the group, which was missing Allen Lazard and playing for the first time after the trade of Davante Adams, with four catches for 37 yards. Rookie Christian Watson had an opportunity for a long touchdown on Green Bay's first offensive snap that could have changed the complexion of the entire game, but the rookie dropped the ball.

We'll see what more time on task between Rodgers and his current group of receivers turns into. I'm guessing they'll pick it up by the time Minnesota visits Lambeau Field in January.

The Vikings defense forced a turnover to end the Packers first possession of the second half.

Another Packers possession netted 21 yards and drained 4:21 of clock.

The Vikings offense could have better capitalized after the fumble forced by Jordan Hicks and recovered by Dalvin Tomlinson, but credit Greg Joseph for a 56-yard field goal that set a new personal best and tied a franchise record.

A 12-play drive in the fourth quarter consumed another 5:04.

Why put more on tape for the Eagles to prepare for than needed? At that point, it's about closing out the game.

Cook finished with 90 yards on 20 carries, and average of 4.5 yards per carry. Alexander Mattison added 36 yards on eight rushes, which also was also good for 4.5. Several of those runs, as O'Connell mentioned, were win the Packers expected nothing else. It was a solid start for Minnesota's ground game.

With excitement and anticipation, I leave Texas to attend Sunday's game and visit U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time. Having been a fan for 50 years now, I'm more excited about this year than year's past, FOR SURE. My brother, who is a Packers fan, will be joining me, so we're in for a wild afternoon. I just hope the place isn't too loaded with Packers fans. Since neither team showed anything or played anyone during the preseason, it's anyone's guess what the outcome will be. My prediction: Vikes 28, Pack 24. SKOL!!!

— JB Brunet

Hope that you and your brother had a wonderful experience at U.S. Bank Stadium. The crowd was dynamite and overwhelmingly Purple, even if there were some Packer backers in the stands.

The last (and only previous) time Green Bay opened a season in Minnesota was 2020, and one of the best venues in sports was eerily empty because of COVID-19 protocols.

Reclaiming the home-field advantage the Vikings have enjoyed at U.S. Bank Stadium is of high priority.

Part of what makes the Vikings-Packers rivalry special is the connections between neighbors and even family members who agree to disagree on football allegiances.

View postgame celebration photos from the Vikings season opener win over the Packers on Sept. 11 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

A fan for over 55 years. I can understand the bringing in staff and players you are familiar with. But cutting [Armon] Watts and signing two guys that don't come close to his production, even when you combine there stats to replace him as starters reminds me of how easy it is to get it wrong based on familiarity … Watts was looking like a up-and-comer based on his production and sample size. Is this familiarity going to sink the team and this new beginning?

— RG Hughes

Most, including me were, surprised about the decision to waive Watts based on what we had seen from him in training camp.

He was entering the final year of his rookie deal. The Vikings also like what they had in Jonathan Bullard, who had also played some with the first team when Watts was still here.

Minnesota then traded to acquire Ross Blacklock, who has two years (including this one) remaining.

Bullard was in the game when the Vikings stopped the Packers on fourth-and-goal at the 1.

More from Monday

Editor's note: We love to fire out the Mailbag to help start everyone's weeks, but the later start to Sunday's game might have delayed some emails reacting to the game. I wanted to add a few more to this Mailbag since next week's will probably be looking ahead to Minnesota's game at Philadelphia. Grouping some related questions and responding collectively below:

Televised Vikings games [in Delaware] are rare to say the least. I check the website for scores. Anyway, I'm a fan from back in the Fran Tarkenton and Bud Grant (the Sheriff) days. It really does my heart good to see any W, but especially against the Packers. SKOL.

— George from Millsboro, Delaware

Outstanding. The defense did one hell of a job on Rodgers, and the offense did just as good with Jefferson's catches. Now I'm a believer.

— Bill Gagnon in San Jose, California

This is going to be an exciting year!!! Love Kevin's excitement and interaction with the guys. Keep up the good work, Vikings!!

Lori L. in Eagan, Minnesota

This was a great win, but it's just that, a win. We have Philly next week on Monday Night Football. We should win this game if we game plan properly. If we don't game plan properly, it will be the NFC Championship all over again. Let's see what our coaches are and what this team is.

— Bob Brown

It was great that so many fans across the country were able to tune-in live. I'm not the only one continuously amazed at how widespread Vikings fandom stretches. While that won't be the case in most weeks, there will be an opportunity in Weeks 2 (ABC) and 4 (NFL Network) for nationwide audiences to see this year's squad.

I think this combination of emails illustrates it's OK to enjoy a 16-point win over Green Bay — Minnesota's largest margin of victory in a game started by Rodgers (the Vikings won 16-0 when he was on Injured Reserve in 2017) — and important to remember there's a long season left to go.

View photos of the Vikings in "Big Head Mode" following the 23-7 victory over the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sept. 11

Both teams have undergone so much overhaul since the NFC Championship Game that Bob mentions that it will be two different teams wearing similar colors as that game more than four years ago.

Before the season started, I made a case in this space for being cautiously optimistic. I'll continue to recommend that mindset but also encourage everyone out there to enjoy the moments worth appreciating.

[Sent on Sept. 5]: I feel good about the offense and believe that Cousins will have a great year (not needing to hold the ball too long, better blind side protection, weapons galore, etc.). Unfortunately, I feel like they will lose too many games 45-34. I am not sold on their defense. I worry about Za'Darius Smith's and Danielle Hunter's health, and Cameron Dantzler as a top corner?!? Harrison Smith, Patrick Peterson and Kendricks are a year older. They have a new system and lack strong depth.

What I cannot get out of my head is that last play in Detroit last year. How does Dantzler allow that touchdown — 11 yards to go with almost no time on the clock? There were few places the ball could possibly go, and the coverage was awful. What has happened since then that makes Dantzler someone we should feel good about?

Update [sent on Sept. 12]: Other than that first play that should have been a Green Bay touchdown, the defense was really good. Yes, GB was missing their starting tackles. I feel the D would have played well yesterday even with them there. They may have some work to do on their run defense but their pass coverage was excellent.

— Bruce Friedland in Palm Harbor, Florida

Bruce reached out on each of the past two Mondays, so I wanted to relay the different expectations and emotions that can happen for fans. I don't expect Bruce was the only one with similar thoughts.

Having had the benefit of seeing the team during training camp — the offense won some reps and days; the defense won others — it seemed like both groups had the opportunity to take steps forward this year.

The Dantzler play from Detroit last year is in the past. He's a young cornerback who has spent considerable amount of time with Peterson this offseason and ready to move forward. Seems like he's come a long way since the 2020 opener against Green Bay.

The Vikings defense seemed to do a great job on the backend of creating coverage sacks for Minnesota's defenders. Part of that is Rodgers was assessing who was going to get open. Part of it was a relentlessness up front to keep fighting.

Awesome win against our biggest rival. I was really shocked Irv Smith, Jr., didn't have an impact on the game. I assume the other TEs were in there more for protection assignments and it just comes down to game plan. Can you offer any other perspective? Is he possibly not healthy or just not ready?

— Douglas Allen in Brookfield, Wisconsin

I guess they didn't plan to throw to Cook out of the backfield. I hope they start using him a lot more that way. Also almost nothing to Irv Smith. Maybe Irv isn't getting open and maybe he's not all that?

— Mike Griffith

Our offense looks night and day from the past several years! Our pass protection seems a little better. Would you agree we need to work on our run offense?

Dalvin Cook/running backs need to have better-designed plays called! Swing passes, screens, something to get him into open space. He was running into three or four players!

Our secondary has improved! Our defensive line, especially run defense needs work!

— Tim McIntire in Marquette Michigan — lifelong Viking fan!

I was impressed by Irv's return in time for Week 1 after sustaining a thumb injury. O'Connell predicted the tight end would be back, and he was for his first regular-season game since Jan. 3, 2021.

That's a long time away from a full-fledged game plan to ramp up to where Irv was before tearing his meniscus in the 2021 preseason finale. I think his acceleration will continue, and the Vikings will be happy to utilize him more later this season.

O'Connell mentioned the Vikings thought there was a bit of an advantage the team could gain by playing in 21 personnel (two backs and a tight end) instead of 12 (one back and two tight ends).

There's visual impacts seen in real time, as well as statistical impacts over the course of a play or game, but there's also some less visible impacts. Irv's commitment to return and be available is an example of the latter.

It's quite possible that Minnesota will choose different ways to attack, depending on the opponent each week.

Green Bay hit some nice runs and finished with 6.2 yards per carry, but still only had seven points to show for it.

I found last year the biggest thing that hurt the team was the amount of points the defense gave up after the 2-minute warning of the first half. It's only one game with plenty of season to go, but stopping an Aaron Rodgers-led offense from even getting to mid-field during that time is a good start.

— Daniel Jones in Albert Lea, Minnesota

What do you think about the team's strengths and weaknesses?

— Dave White

There was a sense of tension as the clocked ticked toward the 2-minute warning of the first half, but things went about as splendidly as possible.

Cousins connected with Jefferson on the 36-yard touchdown for a 17-0 lead with 35 seconds remaining, and Harrison Smith intercepted Rodgers on the following pass.