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Monday Morning Mailbag Extra Edition

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 10, 2010 – 9:44 am

This week’s Monday Morning Mailbag is posted on the home page, but there were a couple of emails that came in over the week that I’d like to expand on with a blog entry. Be sure to submit your questions/comments for next week’s Monday Morning Mailbag by sending an email to me at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. Remember to submit your name and town with the comment/question.

On to the extra emails…

“Hey Mike, do you know if Coach Childress is planning to have a tougher training camp than in recent years? I think it would benefit this team. Do you know why the Vikings have a tough time closing out games? Not all, but some. It seems like teams that they are supposed to finish off, they let them back in the game. Do you think the coach is to blame for this? I know we won’t make it far in the playoffs if we continue this trend. Thanks for your time answering questions and keep up the good work.” — Henry

Henry brings up a valid point in that how a team practices throughout the year – and in training camp – can impact the team’s ability to perform in certain situations, such as late-season games or the 2nd half of games. As for Childress and his plans for this year’s training camp, I don’t have much insight into what his designs are for 2010. Perhaps he’ll be asked to elaborate on that as we get closer to training camp, but my guess is that he won’t change much from what was done last year.

As for the Vikings closing out games, I must say that the evidence contradicts Henry’s assertion that the Vikings had trouble finishing off teams in 2009. A couple of factors actually show the Vikings were good at closing out games. Let’s take a closer look at both of them…

1) The Vikings outscored opponents 111-56 in the 3rd quarter and 134-120 in the 4th quarter. This comes out to the Vikings outscoring opponents 245-176 in the 2nd half. Also consider the Vikings had 4 regular season losses on the year and that in 3 of those 4 losses they trailed at halftime, meaning the losses weren’t a result of losing a lead in the 2nd half.

2) Let’s take a look at some individual games to examine how the Vikings performed in the 2nd half and 4th quarter. Against Cleveland in Week 1 they scored 24 of the last 31 points and at Detroit in Week 2 they outscored the Lions 10-3 in the 4th quarter. At St. Louis they scored 21 of the final 28 points and then at Green Bay they scored 14 of the last 21 points in the 4th quarter. At Chicago late in the season they trailed 16-0 at halftime and then scored 17 of the final 24 points in the regulation to push the game to overtime. I will acknowledge some bad performances in the 2nd half, such as being outscored by 21 points in the 4th quarter at Carolina, being outscored 21-13 by Baltimore in the 4th quarter in Week 6 and then losing the 4th quarter 14-7 at Pittsburgh in the 1st loss of the year. But the Carolina game was a 26-7 loss, the Baltimore game was eventually a win and the Steelers pair of TDs in the 4th quarter were both defensive TDs that don’t serve as an indictment against the Vikings defense.

Ultimately, I can’t agree that the Vikings had a hard time finishing teams off in 2009. In fact, I’d say that finishing games was a strength of the 2009 team.

Hey Mike, do you know K Rhys Lloyd’s stats over the last 2 years as far as  FG% and longest FG made? Also, will he be the only K trying out for the Vikings? Thanks, Pat the Viking

Lloyd doesn’t have much of a history kicking FGs in the NFL. In fact, dating back to 2007, he has not attempted a regular or postseason FG during his career. He’s been a kickoff specialist during his time in the NFL and he’s been very good in that role. In the 2007 preseason for Carolina, however, Lloyd did attempt 3 FGs and he made all 3 of them, including an impressive 55-yard try at Atlanta.

Lloyd’s past efforts on FGs are basically irrelevant for the Vikings because he’ll be a kickoff specialist here while Ryan Longwell will hold down the FG and PAT duties. Should Longwell become unable to fulfill his duties, though, the Vikings would surely consider Lloyd as a candidate to replace the ever-reliable Longwell.

I don’t anticipate the Vikings will have any more Ks in camp outside of Lloyd and Longwell.

Also, for the record, I’m on-board with the Vikings desire to experiment with a kickoff specialist. After doing some offseason studies on the matter, it has the potential to be a solid weapon to have, as the Cowboys and Saints proved last year against the Vikings in the playoffs.


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