Mike Zimmer, not wanting to tip his hand, used a little humor to deflect questions about which quarterback he will start in Sunday’s opener.
“I thought we’d run the single wing this week,” the coach joked today.
When I’m on the road, I enjoy reading books about the origin of football strategies — there is none better than Tim Layden’s “Blood, Sweat and Chalk” — and the football dork in me wishes Zimmer wasn’t kidding.
In the past decade, we have seen offenses use the Wildcat — remember the Dolphins, coached by Tony Sparano, making that work in 2008? — and the read-option in doses to catch defenses off guard and win football games. But I don’t know if it’s possible in 2016 to exclusively use the old single wing or an option-based running game to score a victory in the NFL.
From a media standpoint, though, it would be amazing to cover a game where the Vikings threw everybody off and bucked convention by relying completely on a schematic relic to try to run all over the Titans instead of putting Shaun Hill or the new guy, Sam Bradford, under center Sunday.
The Vikings certainly have the athleticism and the experience among their skill position players to at least consider occasionally using those plays.
Running back Jerick McKinnon was a triple-option triggerman at Georgia Southern before the Vikings drafted him in the third round in 2014. And wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was used as a Wildcat quarterback at times during his junior college days at Hutchinson Community College.
Plus both players have had success in the pro ranks running jet sweeps and end-arounds. And we’ve seen Patterson, back when the Vikings used him regularly, line up in the backfield and take handoffs to the house.
So, generally speaking, here’s how the Vikings could utilize them.
They could put either of them back in the shotgun as the triggerman with All-Pro back Adrian Peterson beside them. Having to worry about the read-option with, say, McKinnon and Peterson could give the Titans fits.
Or they can bring out an unbalanced line and run the Wildcat, which is essentially the single-wing offense that ruled the 1930s, with one of them. The other could be the wingback, a threat to stretch defenses laterally.
Put big bodies like Laquon Treadwell and a blocking tight end or a sixth lineman out there, too, and try to pummel them with power football.
No, I don’t actually think this will happen Sunday. And while it could be effective in spurts, it most likely wouldn’t work for a full 60 minutes.
But it sure would be fun to see the Vikings try that, wouldn’t it?