Souhan: Instead of force-feeding Webb's flavor to Packers, Musgrave chose vanilla

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 6, 2013 - 9:12 AM

GREEN BAY, WIS. - Bill Musgrave had a good year as Vikings offensive coordinator. He helped Adrian Peterson, the offensive line, Percy Harvin and, eventually, Christian Ponder play better than anyone should have expected.

Bill Musgrave had a lousy night as Vikings offensive coordinator. Forced by Ponder's injury to play Joe Webb at quarterback against the Packers in the playoffs, Musgrave abandoned the one strategy that could have kept the game close.

The Vikings' one chance on Saturday night was to play unconventionally, to turn Lambeau Field into a glorified bowl game with Joey Football running the option and frustrating a defense unprepared for him. Instead, the Vikings tried to match Aaron Rodgers with a rusty backup quarterback whose passing skills would not allow him to meet that challenge.

Most likely, the Packers, playing at home with one of the game's best quarterbacks on their side, were going to win the game regardless of how the opposing quarterback played, but the Vikings hinted early that they could compete if they thought creatively.

On the first drive, Webb took off on designed runs or option plays, Peterson took advantage of a disoriented defense, and the Vikings drove 53 yards for a field goal.

After that, Musgrave asked one of the fastest quarterbacks in the game to stand still.

The results were disastrous.

When Webb took off on designed runs or ran the read option with Peterson, the Packers looked confused and physically overmatched, much as they did when Peterson bludgeoned them in the first two meetings this season between these teams.

When Webb dropped into the pocket, he threw more unexpected bounce passes than Ricky Rubio.

On the Vikings' first 11 offensive plays, they ran the ball 10 times, gaining 66 yards, with Webb gaining 33 on three runs.

On their next 19 plays, spanning the rest of the first half, they ran the ball six times. Webb ran the ball once, and it was on a scramble, not a designed carry. They gained 31 yards the rest of the half.

"We tried to hit them with some different plays, tried to switch it up," Webb said. "Coach Musgrave had a good game plan. It was a learning experience for the coaches as well as the players."

Webb did not say this with an edge, but asked about the running success on the first drive, he said: "It was successful. That's Coach Musgrave's decision, and if he wanted to go another route, I'm all for it."

After that impressive first drive gave the Vikings a 3-0 lead before they had completed a pass, the Vikings suddenly made like Air Coryell. Webb threw high. He threw low. He threw too long. He panicked.

With Webb shortening drives with his inaccuracy, Peterson, after the first drive, never had a chance to dominate the game. After rushing for 210 and 199 yards in the first two games against the Packers this season, Peterson finished with 99 Saturday.

In the first half, Webb produced 6 net yards passing and 43 net yards rushing. He averaged a half-yard per passing attempt and almost 11 yards per rushing attempt.

When Ponder couldn't play, the Vikings had one strategic advantage: The Packers hadn't game-planned to stop Webb's running, and were sure to be shocked at how hard he is to tackle. The Vikings erased their own strategic advantage.

"We mixed some of those read-options in along the way, but at some point you'd like to be able to complete some passes," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "Early on, we did have them a little bit off-balance, but we had some opportunities in the passing game and just didn't connect."

That's exactly the point. The Vikings' chances of winning at Lambeau on Saturday with a backup quarterback were slim and none.

Slim involved running the ball down the Packers' throats with Peterson and Webb, and controlling the clock, and beating the Packers at a game they never intended to play.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Milwaukee 115 FINAL
Orlando 100
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 103
Denver 49 4th Qtr
Memphis 74
Chicago 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Montreal 1 3rd Prd :16
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Boston 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 2 3rd Prd 11:53
Toronto 1
Dallas 3 3rd Prd 13:20
Ottawa 3
Detroit 1 3rd Prd 12:57
Tampa Bay 5
Columbus 2 3rd Prd 8:04
Florida 2
Nashville 3 2nd Prd 2:05
St. Louis 3
Minnesota 1 2nd Prd
Calgary 0
Buffalo 1 1st Prd 16:11
Edmonton 0
Anaheim 9:00 PM
San Jose
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 67 FINAL
Army 71
Fla Atlantic 61 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Youngstown St 87 FINAL
Detroit 93
East Tenn St 55 FINAL
Furman 59
Saint Louis 60 FINAL
George Mason 68
USC Upstate 78 FINAL
Jacksonville 65
High Point 72 FINAL
Liberty 53
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Long Island 67
Western Ky 56 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 69
Dayton 64 FINAL
Massachusetts 66
Chattanooga 72 FINAL
Mercer 75
Wofford 58 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 42
Maryland 56 FINAL
Ohio State 80
FIU 56 FINAL
Old Dominion 71
Fair-Dickinson 65 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Mount St Marys 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 73
Bryant 68 FINAL
St Francis-PA 75
Northern Ky 75 FINAL
Stetson 85
Coll of Charleston 70 FINAL
Towson 74
Western Carolina 85 FINAL
Va Military 70
Sacred Heart 64 FINAL
Wagner 75
Lipscomb 62 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 78
Kennesaw St 67 FINAL
North Florida 86
Appalachian St 46 FINAL
Ga Southern 83
Holy Cross 54 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 64
Eastern Ill 51 FINAL
UT Martin 81
Jacksonville St 72 2nd Half 3:48
Belmont 94
Connecticut 39 2nd Half 8:20
Cincinnati 53
Rider 45 2nd Half 5:51
Saint Peters 41
SIU Edwardsville 67 2nd Half 2:06
SE Missouri St 57
Marshall 69 2nd Half 0:39
Southern Miss 54
Tenn Tech 51 2nd Half 0:51
Tennessee St 60
Middle Tennessee 53 2nd Half 7:15
TX-San Antonio 57
Ill-Chicago 56 2nd Half 3:40
Milwaukee 63
Weber State 63 2nd Half 0:25
North Dakota 56
Denver 45 2nd Half 2:46
North Dakota St 46
IUPU-Ft Wayne 64 2nd Half 1:44
South Dakota 51
Louisiana 62 2nd Half 6:41
South Alabama 64
Ark-Little Rock 46 2nd Half 15:09
Arkansas State 45
Georgia State 45 2nd Half 15:07
Texas-Arlington 46
ULM 21 2nd Half
Troy 31
Portland 25 1st Half 1:16
Gonzaga 28
Kentucky 27 1st Half 4:15
Missouri 21
Eastern Ky 25 1st Half 4:27
Murray State 22
UAB 27 1st Half 3:51
Texas-El Paso 20
Idaho State 39 1st Half 0:30
Northern Colorado 38
UMKC 18 1st Half 7:11
Grand Canyon 24
Chicago State 19 1st Half 6:47
Utah Valley U 25
Colorado 8 1st Half 14:04
USC 11
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Hawaii 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Pepperdine 9:00 PM
Pacific
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
San Diego
Utah 9:00 PM
UCLA
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Montana 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana State 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Long Beach State 9:30 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Loyola Marymount 9:30 PM
St Marys-CA
San Francisco 10:00 PM
BYU
California 10:00 PM
Washington St
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 77 FINAL
Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
ULM 51 FINAL
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
(6) Tennessee 73 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 72
(24) Oklahoma 81 FINAL
(14) Texas 84
Nebraska Omaha 59 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 70
UC-Riverside 68 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56
Army 65 FINAL
Boston U 40
New Orleans 40 FINAL
Nicholls 56
Charlotte 68 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 71
Towson 54 FINAL
Delaware 72
Hofstra 66 FINAL
Northeastern 45
New Hampshire 56 FINAL
Maine 87
Albany 89 FINAL
Vermont 48
Hartford 60 FINAL
Stony Brook 58
UNC-Wilmington 62 FINAL
William & Mary 67
Clemson 62 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Alabama 54 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 85
(23) Syracuse 58 FINAL
(8) Louisville 78
Missouri 68 FINAL
Florida 52
Iona 66 FINAL
Fairfield 77
Manhattan 38 FINAL
Marist 77
NC State 63 FINAL
Virginia 71
(4) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 50
(22) Rutgers 58 FINAL
Purdue 49
(5) Maryland 91 FINAL
Michigan 65
Milwaukee 58 FINAL
Cleveland State 67
Wright State 108 FINAL
Oakland 89
Jacksonville 64 FINAL
USC Upstate 66
North Florida 40 FINAL
Kennesaw St 46
Stetson 62 FINAL
Northern Ky 68
Loyola-Maryland 57 FINAL
Holy Cross 51
Lamar 87 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Fla Gulf Coast 71 FINAL
Lipscomb 49
McNeese State 78 FINAL
SE Louisiana 57
Texas-El Paso 52 FINAL
UAB 67
Vanderbilt 33 2nd Half 7:34
(18) Miss State 50
IUPUI 62 2nd Half 0:47
Western Ill 69
Abilene Christian 48 2nd Half 2:05
Houston Baptist 48
Incarnate Word 52 2nd Half 0:50
TX A&M-CC 59
Oral Roberts 44 2nd Half 2:08
South Dakota St 69
Louisiana Tech 55 2nd Half 5:41
Western Ky 68
TX-San Antonio 44 2nd Half 3:13
Middle Tennessee 66
Auburn 43 2nd Half 0:46
Arkansas 47
Grand Canyon 59 2nd Half 1:00
UMKC 51
Illinois 54 2nd Half 4:21
(15) Nebraska 53
(20) Iowa 88 2nd Half 3:42
Northwestern 83
Utah Valley U 52 2nd Half 0:27
Chicago State 58
Green Bay 64 2nd Half 3:43
Valparaiso 42
Ole Miss 11 1st Half 4:26
LSU 27
Portland State 18 2nd Half
Montana 38
Sacramento St 27 1st Half 3:55
Montana State 36
North Dakota 18 1st Half 3:44
Weber State 26
Ohio State 43 1st Half 2:02
Wisconsin 27
Northern Colorado 24 1st Half 1:11
Idaho State 33
BYU 9:00 PM
San Francisco
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Pacific 9:00 PM
Pepperdine
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 9:00 PM
Santa Clara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Long Beach St 10:59 PM
Hawaii
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 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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close