As we wrote in today's game story off the Vikings' victory over Seattle on Saturday night, Minnesota's first-team offense needs work. That is no secret.
But it was somewhat surprising to hear that coach Brad Childress is considering playing the unit in Thursday night's preseason finale against Denver. Childress can't be blamed for feeling this temptation.
Childess has admitted the offense remains "in flux" and it likely will stay that way with Brett Favre having arrived only a couple of weeks ago, two wide receivers (Greg Camarillo and Javon Walker) getting here last week, Percy Harvin just returning on Saturday after a lengthy bout with migraines and Anthony Herrera appearing to be the top center for the time being with John Sullivan (calf) out. And that doesn't include the fact that if Herrera is at center, rookie Chris DeGeare takes over at right guard.
But no matter how great the temptation is to run Favre and Co. out for a few series against the Broncos, one has to wonder if it's worth the risk. As a rule, NFL head coaches rarely play their front-line guys in the final preseason game and the only time I can recall Childress doing it was in his first season in 2006 at Dallas. That was a much different Childress when it came to how he handled his players.
That year Childress played his starters for most of the first half in a 10-10 tie with the Cowboys, but the Vikings had 11 days off before they opened the regular season and Childress gave his players three days off.
This time the Vikings will open the regular season exactly one week after the Broncos game. It might be one thing if the players could have a few days to rest and relax before preparing for the opener at New Orleans but that won't be the case.
So what if something happens to a starter against Denver and he isn't ready to go a week later? Worst case would be if a guy like Favre or running back Adrian Peterson was sidelined for an extended period because the Vikings were hoping to improve the continuity of their offense.
The second guessing would be out of control.
Then there is the matter of how the Broncos approach this game. If Denver goes with members of its second-team defense who are looking to make a lasting impression that could be extremely detrimental to Favre, Peterson or any other veteran who is simply hoping to get more work. A young player might love nothing more than the opportunity to drive Favre into the turf or take Peterson out with a little extra punch added.
There is no perfect answer here for Childress. His offense does need additional work together. But if that work comes at the price of losing a starter it certainly wouldn't be worth it.