Passing offense takes on new look

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 21, 2011 - 7:44 AM

Vikings tight ends and running backs were the primary targets for Donovan McNabb and Christian Ponder.

 

SEATTLE - There has been an assumption that new Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's scheme will rely on having tight ends and running backs involved in the passing game.

Considering the Vikings' approach in the first half of their 20-7 victory over Seattle on Saturday night at CenturyLink Field, it appears that assumption is an extremely safe one.

As the Vikings took a 13-0 lead after the opening 30 minutes, tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Jim Kleinsasser combined for four receptions and running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart combined for three of the team's 10 catches.

Just as telling, Vikings quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Christian Ponder looked for the running backs seven times and the tight ends six times. Wide receivers were targeted four times.

Actually, almost all of the production from the first- and second-team offense came in the second quarter as the Vikings ran only three (yes, three) offensive plays in the opening 15 minutes. That meant coach Leslie Frazier had to wait longer than expected to see quarterback Donovan McNabb and his No. 1 offense.

Frazier said last week he had a set number of plays for McNabb to be in the game, and that figure ended up being 16. What Frazier probably didn't figure was that 13 of them would come on a second-quarter drive.

Tarvaris Jackson, who signed with Seattle as a free agent after spending his first five seasons with the Vikings, ran 26 plays for the Seahawks in the first quarter, but the Vikings still led 7-0 when it ended. That was because cornerback Marcus Sherels returned an interception of a Jackson pass 64 yards for a touchdown.

Sherels' heroics came shortly after he played the role of goat. The former Gopher, who is among those auditioning for the punt-return job, fumbled a Jon Ryan boot at his own 45-yard line after getting 16 yards. But on the ensuing Seattle possession Jackson, whose time in Minnesota was marked with untimely interceptions, threw a pick to Sherels on a third-down pass that was intended for Golden Tate.

"It was encouraging to see our guys come and play some good football," Frazier said. "That interception by Marcus Sherels, those types of plays are game-changers."

Jackson finished the first half 11-for-21 for 75 yards with a horrible 40.8 passer rating. Sidney Rice, another former Viking who left in free agency after the lockout, caught two passes from Jackson for 11 yards but was the intended target a team-high five times.

About the only notable thing from the Vikings' only possession of the first quarter came on second-and-8 when left tackle Charlie Johnson appeared to be beaten badly by Seahawks defensive end Raheem Brock. That enabled Brock to throw the 34-year-old McNabb for an 8-yard loss at the Vikings 25.

Johnson, signed as a free agent from Indianapolis, replaced Bryant McKinnie at left tackle when McKinnie showed up to training camp weighing almost 400 pounds and was released. Johnson, however, has struggled in practice, and there has to be concern on the Vikings part about whether he's the best choice to protect McNabb's blind side.

While the offense didn't get as much time as Frazier would have liked in the first quarter, he did get a good long look at his defense. The second unit had a nice goal-line stand that started in the first quarter and carried into the second. The Seahawks had first-and-goal from the Vikings 2. Running back Justin Forsett gained 1 yard but then carried three more times and never got that final yard.

The Vikings offense took over at the 1 and finally got the work Frazier was hoping to see. McNabb moved the offense 81 yards in 13 plays in a drive that ended with a 36-yard field goal from Ryan Longwell. McNabb had completions of 17 yards to Rudolph, 23 yards to Kleinsasser and 21 yards to wide receiver Michael Jenkins.

McNabb, who finished 6-for-8 for 81 yards, gave way to Ponder after that series, with 4:12 left in the second quarter.

Ponder also led the Vikings on a drive that ended with Longwell kicking a 34-yard field goal. Ponder, the 12th pick in the draft, finished 6-for-12 for 63 yards and rushed three times for 15 yards. He was replaced by Joe Webb early in the fourth quarter.

  • related content

  • Frazier encouraged by Vikings' performance

    Sunday August 21, 2011

    The coach liked what he saw Saturday night.

  • Griffin shows skill quickly, briefly

    Sunday August 21, 2011

    Cedric Griffin made his return from a second anterior cruciate tear in as many years on Saturday, and it didn't take the starting right cornerback much time to get involved.

  • Hartman: Vikings set sights on stadium site

    Saturday August 20, 2011

    "Absolutely it does help us compete," Wilf said. "Basically there's not a single team right now that is operating without an NFL lease, which we will have next year.

  • Marcus Sherels (35)

  • NFL PRESEASON VIKINGS 20, SEATTLE 7

    Up next: 7 p.m. Saturday vs. Dallas

    Mall of America Field • Ch. 11

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 1
LA Angels - WP: T. Skaggs 7 FINAL
Washington - LP: T. Jordan 2
Kansas City - WP: J. Shields 8 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: D. Salazar 2
Baltimore - LP: E. Meek 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: S. Delabar 9
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Leesman 6 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 8
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 0
Miami - WP: J. Fernandez 1 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Wood 0
Minnesota - LP: K. Gibson 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Price 7
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: J. Lester 3
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Hammel 9
San Diego - WP: D. Roach 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: A. Figaro 1
San Francisco - LP: M. Bumgarner 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: F. Morales 2
Texas - WP: A. Ogando 5 FINAL
Oakland - LP: L. Gregerson 4
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 5 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 2
Philadelphia - WP: A. Bastardo 3 FINAL
Los Angeles - LP: J. Howell 2
Atlanta 85 FINAL
Indiana 101
Brooklyn 95 FINAL
Toronto 100
Washington 101 FINAL
Chicago 99
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Montreal 4
Boston 3 FINAL
Detroit 0
NY Rangers 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 1
San Jose 4 FINAL(OT)
Los Angeles 3
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
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which quarterback is best in the NFL draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close