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, "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 •

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 93 FINAL
Phoenix 99
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 FINAL
Colorado 3
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Vancouver 5
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 34 FINAL
Arizona 57
Kent State 55 FINAL
Buffalo 80
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



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 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question