Access Vikings
See more of the story

Thank you for submitting questions for this week's Vikings mailbag. You can always send questions to @Andrew_Krammer on Twitter or andrew.krammer@startribune.com, and listen for answers on the weekly Access Vikings podcast or find them here on Friday mornings. Let's get to it.

Q: What is going on with our defense? — @sixx67

AK: They allowed efficient days from Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray. Whether that boils down to a rough opener and a loss against an early MVP candidate like Murray, or the sign of more to come, we'll see. They're leading the league with 21 missed tackles, according to Pro Football Reference, while also busting coverages like when Cardinals receiver Rondale Moore got behind Patrick Peterson for a 77-yard touchdown before halftime. There's a lot to tighten up. They've shown flashes with eight sacks – trailing only the Panthers' 10 – and linebacker Nick Vigil's pick six, but their pass defense has been otherwise porous.

Q: With K.J. Osborn's emergence in the first two weeks seeming to come from nowhere, is there another player from the last two drafts who could make a similar impact this season? — @adamski009

AK: Tight end Ben Ellefson wasn't a draft pick, but the Hawley, Minn. native was claimed off waivers from the Jaguars and made an immediate impact. He blocked Cardinals edge rusher Chandler Jones when quarterback Kirk Cousins escaped the pocket and threw a touchdown to receiver Justin Jefferson. He saw the second-most snaps among tight ends in Arizona, playing slightly more than Chris Herndon, whom the Vikings sent a fourth-round pick to New York to acquire. Ellefson's blocking could keep him on the field.

Q: Are the corners going to be able to stand up against Lockett and Metcalf? — @HoebenNick

AK: That's a great question, as well as which corners? Bashaud Breeland is dealing with back and shoulder injuries. He was listed a full participant in Thursday's practice. But he was in and out against the Cardinals, spelled by Cameron Dantzler. Both could be tested by an explosive Seahawks offense that has already connected on 60-yard touchdown passes to receivers Tyler Lockett and Freddie Swain through two games. This Vikings secondary has struggled with consistent deep coverage, especially Breeland, who gave up the 50-yard score to Ja'Marr Chase in Week 1 and was beaten by A.J. Green on a go route in Arizona.

Q: Is Dede Westbrook's job in jeopardy? With K.J.'s emergence, and his punt return decision jeopardizing our chance of winning in Arizona, it seems his stock is dropping quickly. — @jorner21

AK: It's been a roller coaster for Westbrook, who had a 15-yard punt return but also a 10-yard return called back because of an illegal block by a teammate. He also didn't react well when a booming 60-yard punt sent him back to his own 8-yard line, and he attempted a return instead of letting it bounce. He lost four yards and the offense started at its own 4-yard line. Westbrook didn't play in the preseason after tearing his ACL last fall, so perhaps there's some rust to knock loose. If the coaching staff views it that way, he'll keep his returner job while K.J. Osborn stays busy on offense. Osborn's emergence, and consistent presence with the first-team offense this summer while Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Westbrook dealt with injuries, has made Westbrook the No. 4 receiver.

Q: If we drop two conference games, we're in deep trouble. How much do you consider this game a "must win"? — @joeycriollo

AK: They're already in a considerable hole, with 88% of teams starting 0-2 missing the playoffs during the 12-team playoff format that ran from 1990 through 2019. But an extra team makes the postseason now, and there's an extra regular season game on the schedule, giving the Vikings some additional life. It's obviously not a must-win game in September, but when you look at how vulnerable the Seahawks were against the Titans, losing 33-30 in overtime, and the Vikings' tough midseason stretch against the Cowboys, Ravens, Chargers, Packers and 49ers, this game is winnable and may be needed to stay in the playoff chase.