NASHVILLE, TENN. -- The Vikings offense could only generate a field goal in a 14-3 loss on Saturday night to Tennessee at LP Field. But no one should have been surprised.
As I wrote in my game story for Sunday's paper, this offense is a work in progress and so far there have been only 10 days of training camp practices. Normally, much of the installation being done now would have been accomplished in the offseason. But the NFL lockout meant that couldn't happen and that means that any team with a new offensive coordinator is going to have an up-hill battle early in the season.
Certainly Bill Musgrave knows this and just has to accept it as a reality.
"We're definitely looking for more points," Musgrave said after Saturday's game. "That's our only goal is to get in the end zone and we didn't do that tonight. We fell short of that. We also wanted guys to get out of it healthy, but we also wanted to find out where we are development wise. I think we did some OK things, but we'll need to make bigger strides in the next three weeks."
However, there are some issues to keep in mind. One is that all coordinators like to keep things as vanilla as possible during the preseason because they don't want to put anything on tape that opposing teams can study. So while the Vikings need work on exotic plays, they don't want to work on them when the cameras are running.
“We put in a lot," wide receiver Percy Harvin said. "The coaches are pleased [with] how quickly we were able to pick up on some of this stuff. Of course, training camp and here you don’t want to show too much so it’s going to be fine.”
Quarterback Donovan McNabb and much of the first-team offense was in for 15 plays on Saturday before being pulled. The first series was nine plays in the opening quarter and the second was six plays in the second.
Coach Leslie Frazier said the Vikings did use a smaller menu so guys could play a fast level without having to think everything through. "We're trying to figure out what guys should be on our roster," Frazier said. "I thought for the most part we played fast. There were definitely some things we can improve on and work on next week. In general the goal was to allow them to play fast without throwing everything at them."
As far as next Saturday's game in Seattle, Musgrave said the plan will be to get the first-team offense 15 to 18 plays. It likely will be toward the latter.
"I feel things are coming along good," running back Adrian Peterson said. "We're just, two weeks ago, getting this offense installed. I feel guys are picking it up well. For us to come out, obviously, we have things we can work on, things we can improve upon. But I feel we had a good start so far."
Obviously, it's going to need to get much better.
Take a seat
Peterson carried the ball for a 3-yard gain on the Vikings' first offensive play Saturday but that was it for him. He stayed in for a few more snaps but was removed during the series and did not return.
"I know Adrian wanted to get a few more touches tonight," Musgrave said. "He wasn't happy in the locker room at all. In fact, when he came out Toby [Gerhart] went in and then Toby gashed them on one of our power plays. Adrian will look to get more touches and we will look to integrate him more and more as the preseason goes along."
Said Peterson: "I knew I wouldn't be in there long. We have a lot of young guys that are trying to get some looks. So, I wasn't expected to do too much. I got in and got my feet wet a little bit, stuck my toe in the water. Hopefully next week I will get a little more time."
Working from the sideline
Musgrave has worked both from the sideline and from the coaches' booth but he has decided this season he wants to be down by the players. That means quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson is upstairs.
"I just think with the new system it's one less chain in the communication [with] the quarterback, so trying to get [the play] into those guys early so they can have plenty of time in the huddle with their teammates," Musgrave said.
The Titans took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter when Jake Locker recovered his fumble of a snap and found wide receiver Yamon Figurs deep down the right sideline for a 45-yard touchdown. Figurs had gotten past cornerback Chris Cook, who had stopped and started to come in when he saw the fumble.
"I definitely saw the ball on the ground and just came up thinking that we were going to get the ball, pursuing the ball and they got a lucky play on it," Cook said.
Defensive coordinator Fred Pagac let Cook know that he needs to stay with the receiver in that case.
“He wasn’t mad at me or anything," Cook said. "I told him what happened and he saw what happened. He was just like, ‘Just don’t quit on the play.’”