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Monday Morning Mailbag: 1st-Year Results & Preseason Scheduling

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, which is presented by FedEx. 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.

Welcome to a week that started Sunday in Las Vegas and will end with a game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Before hosting the 49ers in the second preseason game for both teams, Minnesota and San Francisco will hold joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday. Click here for tickets.

Marshall native Trey Lance will be returning to Minnesota atop San Francisco's depth chart. Lance played 11 offensive snaps last week against Green Bay and completed four of five passes for 92 yards, highlighted by a 76-yard touchdown to Danny Gray.

This past week we were pleased to add Sam Thiel as an Editorial Assistant. Sam is joining our team after working as the sports editor of the Marshall Independent. It will be cool that some of Sam's first practices and his first game at U.S. Bank Stadium are connected to Lance.

Has any first-year coach won a Super Bowl?

— Don Bowers in Perham, Minnesota

This is aptly timed because the answer has connections to the Raiders and the 49ers.

Four coaches have led teams to Super Bowls in their first seasons with a team. Two did so in their first seasons as a head coach.

George Seifert did so with the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV. Seifert had been San Francisco's defensive coordinator from 1983-88 and was selected to replace Bill Walsh, who retired after San Francisco won Super Bowl XXIII.

Don McCafferty won Super Bowl V in his first season with the Baltimore Colts. McCafferty replaced Don Shula, who headed to Miami in 1970, after being Shula's offensive coordinator from 1963-69.

Jon Gruden led the Buccaneers to a win in Super Bowl XXXVII to cap his first season with Tampa Bay. He had been traded by the Raiders after four seasons (1998-2001) of leading them.

Gary Kubiak was in his first season with the Broncos when they won Super Bowl 50. Kubiak had previously been the head coach in Houston from 2006-13.

View photos of the Vikings 2022 coaching staff.

The following eight coaches won a Super Bowl in their second seasons with a team.

Tom Flores, Raiders, XV

Joe Gibbs, Commanders, XVII

Barry Switzer, Cowboys, XXX

Brian Billick, Ravens, XXXV

Bill Belichick, Patriots, XXXVI (Belichick had been Cleveland's head coach from 1991-95.)

Mike Tomlin, Steelers, XLIII

Doug Pederson, Eagles, LII

Bruce Arians, Buccaneers, LV (Arians had previously been the head coach in Arizona from 2013-17.)

Kevin O'Connell is one of 10 coaches who is with a new team this year.

I could not watch the game live. I was working. Which offensive lineman stood out?

The first team only played two series before the Vikings went with LT Olisaemeka Udoh, LG Kyle Hinton, C Austin Schlottman, RG Ed Ingram and RT Blake Brandel.

That group seemed to have a nice push on run plays, allowing Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler to accelerate quickly. Nwangwu rushed seven times for 41 yards, and Chandler rushed five times for 50 yards.

Coaches always like to be able to evaluate from game film, but here's what O'Connell had to say:

"When that group was in there with [Austin] Schlottmann at center, you had Ed [Ingram] and [Blake] Brandel there on the right side, [Olisaemeka Udoh] on the left side and just that we kind of rolled some guards in there," O'Connell said. "But I just thought across the board, those guys, there were very few runs where we weren't getting clean runs off and getting our backs downhill. It paired really nicely with some play passes to be able to have some options down the field."

View game action photos between the Vikings and Raiders during the 2022 preseason opener at Allegiant Stadium.

Another year, and another snub for Vikings Legend Jim Marshall. I am tired of reading the same few outcries that come out during this time of year. It simply is not enough. I don't pretend to understand all that goes with the selection process of a Hall of Famer, but I do know I don't hear or read anything coming from ownership that calls voters into question over continually making the same mistakes. You play 301 games (282 regular-season and 19 postseason) without missing one. You average nearly 6.5 sacks a year, you are your team's captain for 17 straight years, you play alongside two Hall of Famers on the defensive line and help form one of the five greatest defenses of all time, and you are a starter on your team's defense the last year of your career – at age [41]. I don't understand how voters examine these numbers (many not even mentioned), and I don't understand what this organization can do to help in this process. This is a great football player, who is an even greater person. I truly hope this will be the last year I have to vent over this particular snub.

— Justin Angeles

I'm incredibly disappointed for Jim who is such a classy person. We've tried to articulate his excellence and how truly incredible it was for him to play 19 seasons and never miss a game at defensive end.

The Hall of Fame's Senior Committee advanced 12 finalists that did not include Marshall. I put together this chart to compare him to the people who did advance.

I do know that our Ownership group strongly believes Marshall deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. There are many of us who feel the same way. We will keep trying to pass along information and keep hoping it happens.


In the table above, CAR AV refers to career "approximate value," which was created by to "attach a single number to every player-season since 1960."

It behooves me that Minnesota Vikings front office has not caught up to the fact that Irv Smith, Jr., will not pan out. After three years this dude has done next to nothing. Why can't the Vikings let him walk?

— Jim Akpan

I'm including Jim's email, but I don't agree with the take.

Smith set a Vikings franchise record for receptions by a rookie tight end with 36 catches in 2019. He averaged 8.6 yards per reception and scored twice. Smith bumped his per-catch average to 12.2 and added five more touchdowns in 2020.

He was looking great last year in training camp until he suffered a torn meniscus in the preseason finale. That was a huge blow dealt to everything the offense had been working toward. Credit K.J. Osborn as a third receiver and former tight end Tyler Conklin for their productivity.

Smith was again looking great when he suffered a thumb injury. O'Connell said the Vikings and Smith opted to have the injury surgically repaired since Smith is part of the passing game.

It's never great for a player to have to deal with a setback but this was about the best timing for the Vikings to miss Smith. Minnesota is not running its scheme during preseason games, so it is not trying to fool anyone (Smith's abilities as a receiving target and a run blocker help).

Smith is able to maintain his conditioning and lower body strength while targeting a Week 1 return.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 14, 2023.

Greetings from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Believe it or not the Vikings have a fairly decent following in Quebec. I know one gentleman from Quebec City who has been a fan since the Fran Tarkenton days. Here's my question/request:

It would be awesome if you would put the spotlight on the "back of the house" showing us around the training facilities, the athletic training department and trainers, equipment room, weight rooms, nutrition program, the various equipment players use to recover from injury or avoid injury. For one example, how does that cryo room work where it's super cold? I find what players need to do to stay in peak performance for such a long season fascinating.

Thanks so much.


Florian Kubes

Thank you for the support in Montreal. You aren't the only reader/emailer who has asked about the potential for some of the behind-the-scenes content you mentioned.

There's a balance between sharing these stories and allowing opponents to learn some of the methods the Vikings health and performance staff (includes athletic training, strength and conditioning and nutritional efforts) that are working together holistically.

We look forward to further spotlighting these efforts in the future. I communicate to others how often this topic is coming up in emails from fans.

Just curious now that the preseason games have begun. How is the preseason schedule created for the Vikings?

The regular season follows a specific formula. Is there one for the preseason as well. It also seems that the Vikings tend to play some teams more often in the preseason, so does the team have some sort of say on who their opponents will be in the preseason?

— Joseph Milner

When there were four preseason games, the league would schedule the first three and have teams work out contracts for the fourth game. That was probably why you may have seen several repeats or a home-and-away deal in the fourth contests over the years.

Now the league schedules all three preseason games.

Clubs can make a request if they want to hold joint practices for the desired practice opponent to be on the schedule, and the league tries to accommodate that. It works out really well to have San Francisco here for the practices before playing Saturday.

Stadium availability is a key dynamic for all of preseason. So is exclusion of division foes.

Minnesota's location in the middle of the country might factor in a little bit with heading west.

What do you think about bringing in Jake Fromm for a tryout for backup quarterback?

— Craig Goatley

The Vikings and all teams have pro scouting departments that evaluate players who are free agents, as well as players who might become free agents as teams reduce their rosters from the offseason maximum of 90 to the regular-season limit of 53.

That process will unfold over the next three weeks, beginning Tuesday when teams cut from 90 to 85.

Teams will reduce their rosters from 85 to 75 on Aug. 23 and go from 75 to 53 on Aug. 30.

Fromm is currently a free agent. His success in college at Georgia has not been replicated in the NFL. He played in three games (two starts) with the Giants last season, completing 45 percent of his passes for 210 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

Minnesota will continue to evaluate Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond up close on multiple factors, but all teams keep eyes open across the league.