Monday Morning Mailbag

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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Dec 23, 2013

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

To submit a comment or question to the mailbag, send an email to Mike Wobschall at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. Remember to include your name and town on the email.

What do you attribute the inconsistency of this team this year? It is as if we see two distinctly different teams showing up for a games. So much talent for such poor execution.
-- Charles D.

One aspect of this team that has been consistent is its fight. Most of the games have been competitive this season, and even in this blowout loss I never found myself questioning the effort of the players. That’s a positive. But Charles is right about the inconsistent performance, at times. I don’t know what leads to this, but one place that could cause some inconsistency is the amount of injuries the Vikings have dealt with, particularly on defense. This has caused the team to replace starters up and down the lineup, and it’s thrust inexperienced players into the lineup, which I think can lead to inconsistent play. I’m not making excuses for poor or inconsistent performance, I’m just trying to point out the root of the inconsistency, and I think it’s fair to note the high number of injuries the team has seen over the course of the season.

Does Cordarrelle Patterson have a real chance of winning rookie of year honors? Sunday’s performance was great again. He is the best kickoff returner in the NFL, he’s a great receiver and he has two rushing touchdowns.
-- Tomáš V.
Prague, Europe

You don’t have to sell him to me. If I had a vote, Patterson would get it. I do think Patterson will be on the short list of candidates who have a legitimate shot of winning the award, but the competition is going to be stiff for it.

Chargers receiver Keenan Allen has 66 receptions for 957 yards and eight touchdowns, Bengals running back Giovani Bernard has 1,136 yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns and Packers running back Eddie Lacy has 1,354 total yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. All three of those players are deserving candidates, and keep in mind that running backs win this award at a high rate – more than all other positions combined.

But to me, Patterson is right up there with Allen, Bernard and Lacy, and while his offensive numbers may come up a little short in comparison, his impact and numbers on special teams pushes him over the top. Patterson has 542 total offensive yards and five offensive touchdowns, but he leads the NFL in kickoff return yards (1,342), average (33.5) and touchdowns (two). I know return stats aren’t technically offensive stats and Patterson will be up for the offensive rookie of the year award, but special teams numbers certainly helped Percy Harvin win the honor back in 2009, so why can’t they help Patterson win the award this year?

I was trying to think of something to write, but looking up and seeing the Bears getting whopped by the Eagles 54-11, I can see every once in a while a team just has a great day at the expense of another. That’s what happened on Sunday. We were outplayed by the Bengals. They wanted to get in the playoffs and weren’t going to let the Vikings get in the way. That happens sometimes. We have one more game left this season, and I am hoping for a Vikings win in the Metrodome finale. Why couldn’t we get to the quarterback until the game was already decided? Andy Dalton had all the time he needed to pick apart our depleted secondary. I am hoping for a last win in the Metrodome for New Years. See you all in chat.
-- Mike B.
Goodwin, SD

The primary reason the Vikings weren’t able to pressure Dalton is the same reason most teams aren’t able to pressure Dalton – he does a great job of getting rid of the football quickly. Here are a few stats that illustrate how quickly Dalton gets rid of the ball and the lengths to which the Bengals offensive staff goes to helping Dalton avoid sacks. Firstly, the bottom line is number of sacks taken, and the Bengals rank fifth in the NFL having taken just 27 sacks this season. But digging deeper, the Bengals have just the 16th most passing attempts on passes that travel 21-plus yards in the air, they rank 20th in “air yards” (total passing yards minus yards after the catch) and they get 51.3% of their passing yards after the catch, which is seventh-highest in the NFL. Long story longer, the Bengals focus on the short passing game. This decreases the opportunity opponents have of putting pressure on the quarterback.

With the loss to the Bengals what is the worst draft spot the Vikings could get? I know they are top 15 for sure, but what is the worst they could get if they win next week?
-- Jon O
Linton, ND

Entering the final week of the season, the Vikings sit at 4-10-1 and in the eighth position, just mere percentage points ahead of five other teams who also have four wins but who are under the Vikings in the standings because of the Vikings tie (Atlanta is one of those teams, and they play Monday night against San Francisco). Also, the next group of teams ahead of the Vikings in the standings – Buffalo, Tennessee, NY Giants – are two wins ahead, so it looks to me like a win next week cannot drop the Vikings further down the board than eighth. I can’t say this with certainty, but my understanding based on the standings is that if the teams below the Vikings in the standings with four wins all win next Sunday and the Vikings lose, then the Vikings would “jump” to the third spot behind only Washington at No. 2 and Houston at No. 1.

To me, there is more value in winning the final game of the season than there is in focusing on what a loss would do to “improve” the draft positioning. Winning on Sunday means various aspects of the team played well enough to defeat an opponent, and given how many young contributors the Vikings have, winning a game is a good sign for the future because many of those young contributors are going to be on the team next season.