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Monday Morning Mailbag: A Border Battle Win & Looking to the Trade Deadline

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

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Wow! I'm impressed with the guts they showed Sunday! For the most part, our defensive line was beast mode. There were some bad calls against us late, but they stuck in there. Injuries just keep piling up, especially at corner. Dang it, they can't get a break there.

— Toby Smart in Alaska

Two touchdowns in the third quarter … we are back to progressing. We are very young on defense, but they battled and competed. They are gaining valuable experience. Kirk Cousins brought his game face. Nothing is ever easy, but a win is a win.

— Gerald Goblirsch

Before we dive headfirst into Sunday's win, let's also take a moment to savor what transpired at Lambeau Field.

No, the 2020 season hasn't been great for the Vikings thus far. But getting a road win in Green Bay against the first-place Packers makes for one of the best Victory Mondays we'll have all season.

Fans or not, Lambeau Field isn't any easy venue to win at, and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is now a very respectable 3-3-1 in his career in Green Bay.

The star of Sunday's game was obviously Dalvin Cook, who simply torched the Packers with 226 yards from scrimmage and four scores.

Yes, the windy conditions played a part in Kirk Cousins throwing just 14 passes, three of which were intended for Dalvin. But Cook also showed what the Vikings truly want their offense to look like — a tough, hard-nosed attack that wears opponents down all game long.

But I'd also argue that Sunday was one of the best coaching jobs Zimmer has ever done in his time with the Vikings.

By the end of the game, Minnesota was down to just two cornerbacks — rookies Jeff Gladney and Harrison Hand — with safety Anthony Harris shifting to play in the slot in the final few minutes of the game as rookie safety Josh Metellus came into the game.

But despite all of the circumstances at play — the blustery conditions, the rash of injuries, the disappointing start to the season — the Vikings willed their way to a win against their biggest rival under Zimmer's leadership.

The head coach was able to crack a joke after the game about the wacky afternoon.

"Right now, I think I got to get some of that … what's that hair for men stuff called to get the gray hairs back out?," Zimmer said. "It was very, very hectic on the sideline today."

The Vikings now find themselves at 2-5, and will reach the midway point of their season at home next week against the Lions.

I wrote in the last Mailbag that the final 10 games should be about player progression. We saw some of that in Week 8, especially on defense, as Jaleel Johnson, Jalyn Holmes, D.J. Wonnum, Troy Dye, Jeff Gladney and Harrison Hand all played significant time in the win.

Offensively, Ezra Cleveland looked better in his second NFL start and showed great athleticism on a block on Cook's 50-yard touchdown on the screen pass.

Even with Sunday's win, the playoffs are still a longshot. But if Minnesota's focus for the rest of 2020 is as it was Sunday against Green Bay, then perhaps the Vikings can start getting back to their winning ways, both in 2020 and for seasons to come.

I read reports that potential trade candidates include Harrison Smith and Adam Thielen. I would be very disappointed if either of these players were traded. Harrison Smith is a borderline Hall of Fame safety, and the leader of the secondary. Adam Thielen is probably the most popular athlete in Minnesota. He's not only an outstanding player, but a leader and mentor to younger players. If either of these players gets traded, I may decide to become a Seahawks fan, which is saying a lot, considering that I have been a Viking fan since their inception.

— Glenn Phillips

Glenn's email is a timely one, as the NFL's trade deadline is 3 p.m. (CT) Tuesday. Minnesota already got in on the action last month by dealing defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens for undisclosed draft picks.

But with the trade deadline less than 48 hours away, we'll all be waiting to see how the Vikings choose to approach it.

Do they sit tight after an impressive win over the Packers? Or was the Ngakoue trade a precursor of things to come?

View game action photos as the Vikings take on the Packers on Sunday.

Here's what Zimmer said after Sunday's win when asked if the Border Battle victory might change the Vikings thinking going forward:

"I don't believe so. Last year, we were pretty good at the trade deadline," Zimmer said. "It just depends on what kind of offers we get or what kind of things we can come up with. It really has nothing to do with the wins at this time."

The second part of Zimmer's quote can be applied perfectly to the two players you mentioned, both of whom are key pieces of the franchise, and beloved players who will likely find themselves in the Vikings Ring of Honor someday.

If Vikings GM Rick Spielman simply gets an offer he can't refuse, then maybe those players are on the move. But I doubt it.

Either way, it will be a very interesting few days for the Vikings.

Hey Eric, fun game Sunday. In my opinion we won as the better team and not by luck. In any case I remain concerned about our punter — he hasn't performed well all season long. What is wrong with Britton Colquitt? He had two more mid-thirties punts against the Packers; and the last one he punted to the 19 was from our 40 and should have easily been fair caught at the 10, or pinned inside the 10. He has a trend the entire season of mid-30/low-40 punts, and it doesn't help at all to give opposing QBs short fields. What's up with him? I am looking for high 50s and low 60-yard punts, but never see them this season? It will cost us big time in the future if he doesn't fix his stuff.

— Respectfully, Jeff L. in New Kent, Virginia

I'll answer Jeff's question in two parts, starting with his assessment of Colquitt's overall season with the Vikings.

To be fair, Colquitt did struggle in the first game or two, according to Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf. His quote back on Oct. 8 was that Colquitt "started off a little bit rough" and was trying to do too much instead of focusing on what worked for him through the first 10 seasons of his career.

One reason you don't see booming punts from Colquitt is that hasn't been the Vikings style for a while. Sure, other punts around the league may average 50-plus yards per kick and show off their leg, but Colquitt and the Vikings likely go the technical route and try to avoid outkicking the coverage and becoming susceptible to a long return.

But turning to Sunday's game, Colquitt's veteran presence was an unheralded storyline in getting the win, in my opinion. Colquitt had just three punts for 113 total yards (an average of 37.7 yards per attempt), but keep in mind that all three kicks came in the fourth quarter when the Vikings were going into swirling and unpredictable winds.

Sure, Colquitt's numbers might not look overly impressive on the stat sheet. But imagine if he — or anyone else — tried to blast it through the wind and the ball only went 20 yards instead? Then the Packers would have had even better field position than they did.

He also handled long snaps in those tough conditions, including as a holder, getting one that was high in time for Dan Bailey to regroup and get the ball through the uprights.

Kudos to Colquitt for navigating one of the toughest days a specialist can have on Sunday.

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