Scoggins: Be very careful about changing what's working

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 24, 2012 - 7:35 AM

Stretching the field with Jerome Simpson won't hurt, but Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph already are reliable.

Jerome Simpson is eligible to return to the Vikings this week after serving his three-game suspension. Presumably, he'll provide a vertical deep threat and remove some of the consternation that has swirled around the Vikings' passing attack.

"Let's party," Percy Harvin said of Simpson's return. "It's another weapon. We'll welcome him back."

With open arms surely. Simpson's return undeniably is a positive and significant development, but it shouldn't obscure one other fact: The passing game already is in pretty good hands with Harvin and tight end Kyle Rudolph as primary targets.

The Vikings proved Sunday they can move the ball effectively without necessarily relying on long bombs if they utilize a creative mix of plays designed to get the ball in Harvin and Rudolph's hands as much as possible. Simpson's presence should only accentuate that by drawing some attention with his outside speed.

The Rudolph-Harvin tandem helped keep the San Francisco 49ers' aggressive defense off balance in a 24-13 victory at Mall of America Field. Christian Ponder targeted the duo a combined 17 times, completing 14 of those passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Their tag-team performance demonstrated once again that Harvin is the NFL's best wide receiver in space and that Rudolph -- at 6-6 and 260 pounds -- presents matchup problems, particularly near the goal line.

"The more completions you can get on a defense ... that puts a lot of stress on them," Rudolph said. "That's a defense that's not going to give up the 40-yard bomb. They're very disciplined. They don't give up the big play. We just have to be responsible enough to take the chunks and move the ball."

The Vikings' dearth of deep shots down the field in their first two games became a primary talking point with fans and media last week. They didn't open up the offense against the Indianapolis Colts until pressed into catch-up mode in the second half. Simpson's absence left the offense without a reliable vertical option, and Ponder wasn't willing to force the issue.

That should change with Simpson in the lineup, but the Vikings shouldn't deviate completely from the game plan that worked so effectively Sunday. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave devised a smart scheme that got Rudolph involved early and let Percy be Percy.

"Between Percy and Adrian [Peterson] and Kyle, our personnel is awesome," Ponder said. "We have a lot of good players. We're going to create mismatches on anybody wherever we're at."

The Vikings didn't target Rudolph until midway through the third quarter against the Colts. On Sunday, Ponder connected with him on four passes for 34 yards on the opening drive that concluded with a 1-yard touchdown catch by Rudolph on fourth down.

Rudolph's second touchdown registered a higher degree of difficulty. On third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Ponder recognized an all-out blitz and lobbed a pass in Rudolph's direction. Safety Donte Whitner had him covered like a sweater, but Rudolph contorted his body and corralled the ball with one arm.

"I couldn't believe he threw it," Rudolph said. "He put all the trust in the world and just threw it up."

Rudolph gave coach Leslie Frazier a high-five and a quip when he reached the sideline.

"He said, 'Coach, you know I make those kind of catches,' " Frazier said. "The confidence that he has and the confidence that Christian has in him shows up."

Same thing with Harvin, who is performing in another stratosphere this season. The do-everything Harvin caught nine passes for 89 yards and set team records for most combined yards (559) and most catches (27) through three games.

"Everybody knows about No. 12," Rudolph said. "He's one of the hardest guys to defend man-to-man in this league."

That, Ponder said, makes his job easier.

"When you can throw a short bubble route or a swing to him and he gets 15 or 20 yards pretty much every time, it's something you can just rely on," Ponder said. "He's such a big part of this offense. We're going to keep giving him the ball, and he's going to keep making plays the rest of this season."

The Vikings are delighted to add Simpson to the equation this week, and no doubt his presence will help. But the formula they used Sunday worked pretty darn well, too. Now they need to find a way to maximize both.

Chip Scoggins

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Cleveland - WP: C. Allen 4 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: G. Holland 3
Baltimore - LP: W. Chen 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 5
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 2 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Carrasco 0
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 4 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 14
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Bassitt 2 FINAL
Detroit - LP: K. Lobstein 0
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 1 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Houston - LP: N. Tropeano 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: D. Holland 4
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 6 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco 2
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 4 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Samardzija 8
San Francisco - WP: S. Casilla 5 FINAL
Los Angeles - LP: K. Correia 2
Colorado - LP: T. Matzek 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: E. Stults 1
Chicago 27 FINAL
NY Jets 19
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Ottawa 2 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Ottawa 9/22/14 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 3 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
Washington 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Dallas 4
Anaheim 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Arizona 5
Arizona 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
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 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




question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question