Vikings to take test drive against the NFL's latest offensive trend

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 19, 2013 - 12:09 AM

The Vikings defense will face the 49ers’ read-option offense, which they’ll see often this year.

hide

Dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick, running the read-option offense, took the 49ers all the way to the Super Bowl. The Vikings will face the 49ers in San Francisco on Sunday night.

Photo: Dave Martin, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Vikings offense received an unexpected refresher course on exotic blitzes in their second preseason game Friday night in Buffalo.

Now the Vikings defense gets its turn to face an unconventional scheme this week.

The Vikings will get a taste of read-option offense Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers in the third and most important preseason game. Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick headlines a group of dual-threat quarterbacks whose success running the option has caused NFL coaches to search for ideas on how to defend what could become a new trend.

The Vikings are treating this preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season because very few starters, if any, will play in the final tuneup. As an added bonus, they get to game plan for Kaepernick and the read option, which will serve as an appetizer for the main course in the regular season.

Their schedule includes four quarterbacks who run some variation of the read option: Carolina’s Cam Newton, Washington’s Robert Griffin III, Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Philadelphia’s Michael Vick. Those quarterbacks utilize the option in varying degrees, but they’re all capable of creating havoc with their legs.

Kaepernick is equally scary on the move — just ask the Green Bay Packers — which is why Vikings coach Leslie Frazier believes this preseason game could be “very valuable” for his defense, assuming Kaepernick shows off that part of his repertoire.

“To get that [experience] in the preseason,” Frazier said, “we’re hoping it’s going to pay dividends down the road.”

The Vikings won’t simulate a normal work week in terms of preparing a complete game plan. But the defense will spend time analyzing how to defend the read option, essentially making this a test run for what lies ahead.

“We face almost every one of those quarterbacks that run this year, so this will be good practice,” safety Harrison Smith said. “A lot of times you’ll play a team and you won’t really count the quarterback in the run game. This is one where we’ll have to always acknowledge what [Kaepernick] is doing back there. It will be good for us to see how disciplined we can be.”

The read option, in essence, requires the quarterback to make snap decisions on whether to hand the ball off or keep it himself, depending on how the defense reacts. That scheme puts extra stress on defenses because it forces them to account for a quarterback who can run — and usually run well. It’s even more effective when the quarterback also is an accurate passer.

“If teams have quarterbacks that have the ability to take off with the ball, they’re going to try and put that in their game because it’s one more thing you have to game plan for,” Smith said. “One more thing you have to worry about.”

The NFL is known as a copycat league and the success of Kaepernick, Griffin and Wilson last season in operating the read option could inspire other teams to consider quarterbacks with similar skill sets.

Kaepernick, in particular, sent defensive coordinators scurrying for answers after he shredded the Packers defense for an NFL quarterback-record 181 rushing yards in their playoff game. The Packers looked thoroughly confused and helpless in trying to contain Kaepernick, who according to ESPN research, gained 178 of his 181 yards before being touched.

In response to that performance and the overall trend, defensive coordinators contacted college coaches for help because option football remains prevalent at that level.

Frazier confirmed Sunday that he visited with Kaepernick’s college coach, Chris Ault, to discuss the read option. Ault created the “Pistol” offense at Nevada, which incorporates the option. Several NFL teams reportedly contacted Ault this spring before the Kansas City Chiefs hired him as a consultant.

“We talked about that offense and how it derived,” Frazier said. “He gave me a little bit of the history and we talked about some things.”

Presumably, Frazier wanted to know its vulnerabilities and the best way to defend it. The key, Harrison said, is every player being fundamentally sound.

“It’s just discipline,” he said. “But it’s a lot harder than it sounds.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Cleveland 11/6/14 7:25 PM
Cincinnati
Memphis 97 FINAL
Indiana 89
Cleveland 114 FINAL
Chicago 108
Philadelphia 81 FINAL
Milwaukee 93
Portland 94 FINAL
Sacramento 103
San Antonio 89 FINAL
Phoenix 94
LA Clippers 118 FINAL
LA Lakers 111
Toronto 4 FINAL
Columbus 1
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Detroit 5
Anaheim 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 1
Nashville 3 FINAL
Calgary 4
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 38 FINAL
Tulane 14
Tulsa 20 FINAL
Memphis 40
Air Force 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Memphis 11/7/14 6:30 PM
Temple
Utah State 11/7/14 7:00 PM
Wyoming
(12) Baylor 11/8/14 2:00 AM
(19) Oklahoma
(11) Kansas State 11/8/14 2:00 AM
(10) TCU
Hamilton 34 FINAL
Ottawa 25
Winnipeg 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
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 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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How has Mike Zimmer done so far as Vikings coach?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close