Vikings 2011: Offense will lull 'em to sleep, then blow a horn

  • Updated: September 9, 2011 - 1:12 AM

Basically, the Vikings' game plan on offense is to be so efficiently boring that defenses can't sense the play-action quick strike coming.

It's a run-oriented, ball-control concept that came from Atlanta with new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. It's built to showcase running back Adrian Peterson, pass-catching tight ends, a steady supply of first downs and enough short-yardage opportunities that the defense eventually bites on the play action. If that happens, quarterback Donovan McNabb can take an unbothered seven-step drop, allow his receivers time to get downfield and then deliver the unexpected big play.

At least that's the theory.

"It's going to be an offense that's more explosive than people expect," said receiver Michael Jenkins, who came from the Falcons via free agency this year. "We can pound the ball and kind of play ball-possession, which was a big thing in Atlanta with how they wanted to control the clock. But I also think we'll stretch the field and score some points if we need to, which we will in this division [NFC North]."

The offense doesn't have a catchy name. Musgrave has some West Coast concepts, some old Air Coryell ideas that stretch the field, some power running and ... well, let's just say the guy is flexible.

"We like to tailor-make or customize our system to fit our players,'' Musgrave said. "It's not a system where we're going to sit here and say, 'Donovan didn't fit, or another player didn't fit.' "

A year ago, the Falcons set a team record for first downs while quarterback Matt Ryan established franchise records for completions and completion percentage.

"It's an identity we're getting back to," Vikings receiver Percy Harvin said. "Our identity is going to be control the line of scrimmage and let 28 [Peterson] do what he do, and that's dominate in the run game. Then the rest of us complement him by making plays down the field."

It's a theory that hinges on the offensive line and multiple tight end packages run blocking well enough to give Peterson the small creases he needs to blast into or slip through and cut to the open field. If Peterson is stuffed consistently, there will be long-yardage situations, no respect for the play action and too much pressure on pass protection.

MARK CRAIG

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