Brian Hall’s Sept. 18 Vikings mailbag

Many Vikings fans are wondering about the future of the Vikings' offense under coordinator Norv Turner (right) in the wake of star Adrian Peterson's current off-field troubles.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

The topic of the week is clear, as people want to know about the status of Adrian Peterson and the thought process the Minnesota Vikings are using to deal with their all-time leading rusher and face of the franchise.

We received a number of submissions this week in regard to Peterson’s legal situation where he faces charges in Montgomery County, Texas for injury to a child. Many of the submissions revolved around Minnesota’s decision to let Peterson practice and play while the legal matter was pending.

Many of those conversations were rendered moot by the Vikings’ decision Wednesday to place Peterson on the commissioner’s exempt list, meaning he will be away from the team until his legal matter is resolved.

Peterson is paid during his absence, which could potentially last the entire season, depending on how his legal situation is handled. It’s fair to say Peterson’s future with the team — he’s signed through the 2017 season — is uncertain.

In light of the Wednesday’s action, here are other questions received in this week’s mailbag:

Question: Do you think Adrian Peterson will suffer the same fate as Ray Rice? — Mike, Minneapolis

Answer: Difficult to answer, but I thought this topic advanced the conversation regarding Peterson and his future in Minnesota. Ray Rice, who was captured on video striking his then fiancee, was eventually let go by the Baltimore Ravens once video of the incident came to light.

The Vikings’ action won’t be as swift, thanks to the ability to put Peterson on the exempt list. Peterson and the team have the benefit to wait until Peterson’s legal situation is resolved. Peterson is paid in full while he’s away from the team. His first court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 8, and the Montgomery County district attorney has said the case might not be tried until early 2015.

Once Peterson’s legal matters are taken care of, the team will need to decide how to approach the future with its star running back. Peterson will turn 30 years old in March 2015 and is advancing past the age where we’ve seen many running backs decline in production. Peterson is signed through 2017, but he will be owed $13 million dollars next year as a 30-year-old back. His salary cap hit for 2015 is $15.4 million.

Peterson, while hard to believe just 20 months ago when he was named the league MVP, could be away from the team while he serves his final year with the Vikings.

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Q: What happened to the new innovative Offense after the first series against New England? The play calling changed dramatically. Also, Where was the disruptive, camouflaged, blitzing defense? It seemed like the same old bend, don’t break until they score 30 points thing we did last year . . . — Kent Sinclair, Kansas City

A: What a difference a week makes, huh? A week ago, Minnesota was coming off an impressive season-opening road win at St. Louis. A week later, there are questions beyond Peterson. Without their top running back, the Vikings came out strong on Sunday at home against the New England Patriots, going 80 yards in seven plays and scoring a touchdown on a 25-yard catch and run by Matt Asiata, Peterson’s replacement.

Minnesota wouldn’t score again as New England won 30-7. Asiata ended up with just 36 yards rushing in the game. The offense was stagnated by four interceptions. The early deficit — the Vikings trailed 24-7 at halftime — also likely affected the play calling.

The defense that held down St. Louis’ backup quarterbacks didn’t have the same luck against New England. The pressure put on the Rams a week earlier was absent, and the Patriots were also able to run for 150 yards. The defense also was put in a few bad spots by turnovers and a long punt return by Julian Edelman.

This week, the task doesn’t get any easier against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Minnesota will need to stop the run and pressure Brees to look more like the defense it featured in Week 1. But I trust, while there will be growing pains, coach Mike Zimmer has the defense on the right path, and offensive coordinator Norv Turner will find ways to score points.

Q: Cordarelle Patterson seemed to disappear against the Patriots, he didn’t even get a single carry. With Peterson out you think he’d become even more involved. Is this cause for concern? — Gerry, Mankato

A: Patterson’s usage might have been the most perplexing aspect of the Vikings’ offense last week. Here Minnesota was without Peterson, the focal point of its offense and one of its game-breaking talents. Patterson ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on just three carries in Week 1.

Patterson touched the ball four times on offense and didn’t have one rushing attempt. He was targeted seven times in the passing game and finished with four receptions for 56 yards. One of quarterback Matt Cassel’s interceptions came on a throw to Patterson, who was covered well.

The fact Patterson didn’t have a rushing attempt was curious. In the passing game, Patterson wasn’t occupied by New England cornerback Darrelle Revis. Instead, it was Greg Jennings who typically drew Revis’ attention.

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Perhaps Turner is still learning how to utilize the multi-dimensional talents of Patterson. Patterson will surely be included more as the season progresses.

Q: When will they let Bridgewater play? — TG, Northern Cali

Q: We played PATHETIC Football. What needs to happen to see Teddy replacing Matt Cassel? (4 INTS were not enough?? COMMON!) — Heartbroken Vikes Fan, Sioux Falls, SD

Q: The Vikings play my team at home in the dome this weekend and if Cassel gives up two int’s should the saints defenders expect to see Ponder or Teddy step in? I’d like to see Teddy play but I think its in MN’s best interest to keep him off the Field this year to let him develop more so the Vikings don’t ruin him the way they did with ponder. — Dustin kyd, Roseau, MN

A: Remember when quarterback controversies were the topic du jour for Minnesota? I looped these questions together because they boil down to one topic for Vikings’ fans: When will they see Teddy Bridgewater? Cassel’s four interceptions against the Patriots only added fuel to the fire to see Bridgewater, the rookie first-round pick.

Zimmer didn’t go down that road though, and announced after the game that Cassel would start Sunday at New Orleans. Cassel’s poor game last week is not what Minnesota wants to see from its veteran starter. Cassel has to avoid turnovers, first and foremost. But he will get the chance to continue to lead the offense on Sunday.

This was the plan for the Vikings. Cassel will start until he loses the job or Bridgewater proves he is ready to take the reins and become the long-term starter. One game, even with four interceptions, wasn’t likely to shake the organization’s decision to start Cassel. He will need to perform to keep his job, but one game wasn’t enough to make a switch.

Bridgewater’s development is paramount to the decision-making. As the final mailer points out, Minnesota shouldn’t rush Bridgewater’s development. The timing of Bridgewater’s spot in the lineup should be solely based on when the coaches feel he’s ready to assume the position long-term.

Thank you for your submissions. I hope we continue to hear from you in the future. Our Vikings’ mailbag runs once a week on Thursday mornings during the regular season. Be sure to check for upcoming mailbags.

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