Vikings Insider: Four yards and a cloud of ... improvement?

  • Article by: KEVIN SEIFERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 8, 2007 - 2:51 PM

"Incremental" is the coach’s word for the pace at which the Vikings expect to get better.

Imagine yourself in Chester Taylor's shoes for a moment. Or, for a quicker ride, step into those of Adrian Peterson. Whatever your personal style, you are striding purposefully toward the line of scrimmage, the ball tucked safely under your arm.

You scan earnestly for daylight, at the same time bracing for the initial hit. You've gained 3 yards when Brian Urlacher plows into you. Your shoulders are low, and you fall forward for a solid 4-yard gain.

This is how running teams move the ball: 4 yards at a time, falling forward, protecting the ball. They move methodically in the right direction.

So as the Vikings pin their offensive hopes this season on a running game that features Taylor and Peterson, there seems no better metaphor to describe the direction of the franchise.

In the second year of coach Brad Childress' tenure, no one at Winter Park believes the Vikings have built a legitimate Super Bowl contender. But like a running back churning for positive -- if not game-breaking -- yardage, the Vikings believe they have made, and will continue to make, progress toward that goal.

Asked often about the topic this summer, Childress returned to the same word: incremental. It carries multiple definitions, but the general meaning is an augmentation of some kind — even if it is, according to dictionary.com, "barely perceptible."I can't tell you it's leaps and bounds," Childress said midway through the preseason. "But I see us getting better at things every week."

Genuine progress of any kind should satisfy Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, who spoke with disarming honesty during the offseason when asked about the team's immediate fortune. Wilf acknowledged "it will take a couple years" to build a title contender, adding he hopes to reach such status sooner, but "we can't expect that."

A reasonable person can question why the team can't move quicker in this salary cap-induced era of fast turnarounds. But it's hard to question Wilf's assessment of the franchise's reality.

The Vikings finished 6-10 last season with a strong defense and a veteran quarterback at the helm. Half of their victories came in tightly contested games decided by five or fewer points.

As they open 2007, the Vikings will be relying on second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to guide them through close games. Jackson has been handed a group of pass catchers with some talent but almost no history of production, a combination that will enable opposing defenses to stack heavily against the run.

Their own defense, skilled and mature, could rank among the NFL's top 10. But it should be noted that last season's group, which finished No. 8 overall, could not turn around a losing season.

Those factors and others caused one prominent member of the organization to offer this opinion recently: A fair goal is to finish .500. A 9-7 record, and a chance at the postseason, would be cause for celebration. Many respected observers, both inside and outside of Winter Park, share that assessment.

Childress, asked this summer what would constitute a good season, spoke more in terms of building than in quantifiable accomplishment.

"Good fundamental football," he said. "To be a physically tough team to beat. To have a mentally tough attitude, and that means dealing with any adversities that come your way, whether it be when you're behind in the score or when you have people out of the game. A hot day, being a mentally tough team.

"That to me would be good, and that would manifest itself in terms of wins on the football field."

Such modest short-term goals might not sit well with a fan base that tasted deep playoff runs in 1998 and 2000, and then sat patiently through a three-year plan to get Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper and a paper-thin expense structure to the Super Bowl.

The Vikings have appeared in two playoff games in the past six years. This year could make it two in seven. So as the season begins Sunday, hardcore fans might want to look for more subtle steps — like if they fall forward.

Kevin Seifert • kseifert@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 12 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 4
Washington - LP: D. Fister 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 8
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1
Boston - LP: T. Layne 2 FINAL
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 5
NY Yankees - WP: S. Greene 8 FINAL
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: Z. Wheeler 2
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Latos 7
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: H. Noesi 3
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 6
Oakland - WP: D. Otero 5 FINAL
Houston - LP: C. Qualls 4
Milwaukee - LP: Z. Duke 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: D. Thayer 3
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 3 FINAL
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 1
Miami - LP: H. Alvarez 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: H. Santiago 6
Colorado - LP: J. Nicasio 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: S. Casilla 4
Atlanta 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 6:02 PM
ULM
Boise State 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
D.C. 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who would you rather have on your team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close