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Monday Morning Mailbag: Fans' Reactions After Vikings Fall at Home to Packers

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The Vikings missed an opportunity to move to the No. 7 seed on Sunday in a 33-10 loss to the Packers.

Minnesota fell to 7-9 on the season, finishing its home slate with a 2-6 record at U.S. Bank Stadium, the lowest win total by the team at the venue that opened in 2016.

Rookie Jaren Hall started at quarterback, but Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell turned to Nick Mullens in the second half. The Packers improved to 8-8 on the season and jumped to the No. 7 spot in the NFC by turning two critical turnovers into touchdowns in the first half and finding offensive success with the run and pass.

It was the fifth consecutive Border Battle decided by 14 or more points, which is a major departure from the majority of Vikings games.

Since 2021, the Vikings have played 50 regular-season games, and 39 have been decided by one score. Only one in the past six Border Battles has met that qualification.

There's an outside chance in Minnesota vaulting back from the current No. 10 spot in the NFC to No. 7.

According to ESPN’s NFL Playoffs Machine, the Vikings can still qualify for the postseason with the combination of the following:

Win at Detroit


Arizona win against Seattle


Chicago win at Green Bay


Atlanta win at New Orleans OR Carolina win against Tampa Bay

A very painful loss tonight. The Vikings defense makes Jordan Love look like an All-Pro. I think this is our poorest and most disappointing defensive performance of the season. And our offense cannot do much of anything against the porous and injured and suspended and mediocre Packers defense. Leave it to the Vikings to make the Packers look like a playoff team. We certainly are not. Below are my 3 Ups and 3 Downs for the game:


1. Nice (and fortunate) turnover on downs forced by Vikings defense early in the second quarter. Followed by a Vikings FG scoring drive.

2. A long, 54-yard FG by Joseph. Nicely done.

3. NaJee Thompson is a stud. Beautiful special teams turnover on the muffed punt recovery. Led directly to the Vikings only TD. Very nicely done.


1. The Vikings defense allows multiple first half scoring drives. We were unprepared for the Packers to go quick? Pass rush not getting home on repetitive occasions? Allows a wide-open, easy pitch-and-catch TD pass? Unforced and undisciplined defensive penalties? We give up an end-of-the-first-half, 26-second TD drive? Defensive performance is weak, inept and embarrassing.

2. Vikings offense is inconsistent and weak with two first-half turnovers. No third-down conversions until the third quarter? Unforced and undisciplined offensive penalties? The plays called don't work? The game plan apparently doesn't allow for leveraging [Justin] Jefferson or [Jordan] Addison with minimal completions to either of them prior to the game being decided. Our play calling does not result in sustained drives, third-down conversions or TDs. Our offensive performance is just weak, inept and embarrassing.

3. The Packers only possession in the third quarter. It was a 91-yard, TD-scoring drive of 8-plus minutes against the hapless Vikings defense. Love under no pressure hits a wide open, no-name Packers receiver for the easy TD. This drive basically sealed the deal for the Pack.

It was sad to watch the Packers move the ball at will against the Vikings defense. Equally sad to watch our offense flail around ineffectively, no matter who was at QB. Yanking Hall for Mullens at halftime was interesting and good. Mullens is not much more effective than Hall, but more fun to watch.

Looking forward to the Lions. At least next week the misery that has been this season will be over.

— Respectfully, Jeff L.

The ups from Sunday were few and far between, but it did seem like special teams had a solid game.

Thompson's speed and determination on special teams has shown up consistently in a year of inconsistencies for the team's roster and execution.

The operation of the field goal was nice and clean for the 54-yarder.

Six of 10 Packers possessions resulted in points, which is not a path to winning a football game.

Opponents have averaged 30 points a game against Minnesota in the past three weeks, a sequence that began in Cincinnati with the Bengals rallying for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Cincinnati maintained possession of the football for 8:59 in that fateful fourth quarter.

Detroit held the ball for 38:22, and Green Bay possessed it for 37:32.

The stretch that followed Minnesota's field goal (a 10-play, 75-yard drive on which Green Bay's only third down was third-and-1, quick exchanges of punts by each team, the sack fumble that gave the Packers the ball at the Vikings 37 and the quick touchdown) was disastrous.

Definitely understand O'Connell trying to cut into a 17-3 lead before halftime with the opportunity to get the ball back to start the second half, but giving up the sack fumble on second-and-2 at the 46 was absolutely critical.

Is there any way that someone could convince Kevin O'Connell to hire an offensive coordinator who will also call the offensive plays? Season injuries aside, the biggest problem of the Vikings this year has been the offensive play-calling. O'Connell is just not good at it. He made a great decision to hire Brian Flores, and now he needs to follow up with an equally qualified, play-calling offensive coordinator.


— Tony Anadio in Latham, New York

O'Connell's preference has been to be the offensive play caller since his hire. He works with Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips and other assistants on building the plan during the week.

Every year, every team and coach conduct deep evaluations. I don't know if that will be among what O'Connell evaluates. Play-calling in general is usually a drumbeat, but there's an execution factor, along with the propensity to turn the football over that has plagued this team all season.

View game action photos from the Vikings vs. Packers Sunday Night Football Matchup in Week 17 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Hello Vikings team! Thanks again for taking the time to respond.

I'm writing this as the fourth quarter winds down with the Packers game. I have a few concerns:

For starters, there was a complete breakdown of the offensive line. Bad play almost the entire time. Sacks, pressures, the whole deal. And I am just so confused as to the whole defensive breakdown, low energy, not smart play, and a severe lack of adaptability.

Can we just move on from Jaren Hall?! He's had a few chances, and never does anything. He plays badly in the preseason and plays worse in regular season. Why start him? Nick Mullens is very clearly better. Start him early, and let him throw it around, we don't have anything to lose at this point.

Super frustrated with what seemed like a low-effort game. Feels like a rebuild is coming, or at least a major overhaul.


— Quin

I'm not the one that deserves to weigh-in on effort level, but O'Connell said more than once that he didn't believe effort was the problem. Here was part of his opening statement:

"I didn't think it was an effort thing. I think our guys came out with a lot of energy. Just was a combination of a lot of things. Early on the execution offensively could have been much better, and defensively we put them on the field far too much. Green Bay had success on offense to maintain possession of the football. This is going to be one that we've really got to take a long look at. Starts with me, like I said. You know, I'm going to be the first one out in front of this thing, fighting to make sure we don't have any more performances like that. Have to get right back to work this week. Going to find out kind of with everything being tested within our organization of culture and what we've tried to build here. In the end, we have to go back to work and try to improve with the opportunity that we have left."

Division games often result in season splits because the team that lost the first time builds off that information and is able to adjust its game plan with a second chance.

It seemed there were multiple times when the Vikings had a deep dropback with play action and Packers defenders were leaking through quickly. Should a different play have been called in those situations? Should a blitz have been detected and offset with an audible? Should execution have been better?

Ever since Kirk Cousins' injury in Week 8, the Vikings have been on a quest to best execute the O'Connell offense with three different players who have far less experience in it. Mullens ranks second in that regard behind Cousins, and it shows with the rhythm and timing, but he committed multiple turnovers in his past two starts. Hall looked crisp in his start at Atlanta, but that was a very small sample size before Joshua Dobbs' learn-on-the-fly effort.

I had several emails last week about how the team needed to move from Mullens to Hall.

Cousins probably isn't escaping a couple of those sacks, based on how fast defenders got through the holes, but he clearly has developed an internal clock that usually (not always) helps him get the ball out to avoid trouble.

Couple of questions: first, what happened to the defense tonight? Green Bay that good all of a sudden?

All my years I have always heard that one player is not the entire team. Well, it is pretty clear that the loss of Kirk killed this season with no blue chip back up.

This leads to my second question, Joe Flacco a Super Bowl-winning QB was available when Kirk went down?

Our former offensive coordinator (Kevin Stefanski) had the insight, and we missed the bus — and will miss the playoffs.

— Jamie & Debbie Doherty in Dallas, Georgia

The injuries have stacked up on the Vikings defense. They haven't been the headline grabbers that have been involved with losses to Pro Bowlers like Cousins, Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson on the offensive side of the ball, but the secondary has been without top cornerback Byron Murphy, Jr., the past two weeks, and the unit's depth has been tested at all three levels.

I realize in Week 17, it's likely that every football team is dealing with injuries, and Green Bay was definitely no exception.

Aaron Jones has always been underrated, in my opinion, and he looked healthier Sunday than earlier in the season. Love has been playing well since Minnesota contained Green Bay in Week 8.

Flacco's numbers this season have been a departure from the three previous seasons with the Jets or his 2019 season with the Broncos, but his experience has seemed to be quite valuable to complement a team that has played well in multiple aspects, usually runs the ball well and has had some strong defensive performances to boot.

Congrats to Stefanski for his role in helping optimize Flacco and earn a postseason berth despite the team starting four different quarterbacks this season for two or more games.

NaJee Thompson — impressive play. Always give 100% plus.

— Gerald Goblirsch

That all-out effort by Thompson in that role wasn't enough to sway Sunday's game, but if he keeps that up, more good outcomes could follow and perhaps swing a closer contest in Minnesota's favor.

What's up with the Vikings defense??? Receivers are WIDE OPEN. Thank goodness the season is almost over! Rebuild again. 50 years of this!!

— Derek in North Dakota

Most of the initial questions to O'Connell after the game focused on the offense, but he was asked why Love looked more comfortable this time around than earlier this season.

"I thought they had a good plan. Any time we were soft in coverage, they were taking completions. When we tightened up, they were able to get some explosives down the field. Yeah, I would have to go back and take a look at kind of how — individual plays, but they seemed to be able to get enough of their run game going to stay efficient. There was a lot of times where they were third-and-shorts, third-and-inches, getting first downs, and kind of able to stay on the field and possess the ball when they moved it. We certainly didn't do much offensively, especially in the first half, to be able to combat that with time of possession and get in any sort of flow offensively. You got to be able to convert third downs and limit the negative plays and sacks and penalties. Just felt like we were pressing a little bit once they started to get a little bit of a lead on us. Maybe we pressed as a team, all of which comes back, and I look at my responsibility is to make sure we're competing for four quarters and battle back if it hasn't started the way we wanted, which it did not, and we go from there."

All that to say, there might be a little more concrete explanation available Monday after O'Connell reviews the game film or from Flores during his weekly media availability.

Another disturbing theme has developed under [O'Connell]. Over the last two years the team looks unprepared in big games. Last year, it was blowouts to Eagles, Cowboys, Lions and Packers in big games, and add the playoff loss to a Giants team that was not that good. The past few weeks are an embarrassing ending with a complete no-show against Packers. A lot of clean uniforms out there tonight. And why [O'Connell] would start Hall is a mystery. There is no mystery in the fact that he is not that good. I could come to that conclusion in the preseason. We have the best player in the NFL, who unless he finds a way to cut loose, will waste his years on a team that has a winning culture but not a championship culture.

— James W. (A Frustrated Long Time Fan in New York

Big games usually involve a couple of quality teams. I think Cousins' critics have jumped on the opportunity to tie prime-time results exclusively to him, but it's a team game.

Love has been playing well against multiple opponents in the back half of the season, but those successes are not overnight developments. First off, he was a first-round pick in 2020, so projected talent was high when he entered the NFL.

Throw in the fact he was able to learn under Aaron Rodgers, and Matt LaFleur has been the coach there since 2019 (all of his career), that's quite a bit of time to develop behind the scenes.

View pregame photos as the Vikings get set for the Week 17 Sunday Night Football matchup against the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Yet again the Vikings fan mantra begins. "There's always next year!" Completely got destroyed on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Frankly, I'm most disappointed with our defensive play. Offensively, I didn't expect much, but I hoped we'd do better. I really hope we can afford both Kirk & J.J. going forward because if we don't fix our issues, neither may want to come back. Getting dominated by the Pack at home doesn't sit well. Happy New Year, SKOL Nation! There's always next year!

— J.B. Brunet

Going to hit pause on the Mailbag here for now but will include more comments in Monday's Rehash.

The line of scrimmage is absolutely critical, as well as success on early downs. Green Bay was successful getting push on offense and pressure on defense.

There's going to be a bevy of decisions facing the Vikings, who plan to have conversations with Cousins and Jefferson (and their representatives) in the offseason to see if all parties can reach agreements.