Vikings left a few tricks in the bag in season's first half

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 11, 2013 - 12:22 AM

The Vikings struggled through the first nine games, leading to nagging developmental questions.

hide

Cordarrelle Patterson’s 2-yard reception off a Christian Ponder pass Thursday was his first touchdown catch as a pro.

Photo: ANN HEISENFELT • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

As the Vikings take the rare Sunday/Monday off following Thursday night’s win over the Redskins, we take this opportunity to ask the following questions regarding three areas of the team that could have helped the Vikings do better than 2-7 through nine games …

1. Could Cordarrelle Patterson speed it up?

After Adrian Peterson, the next best pure playmaker on the team is rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. It took Patterson seven games to tie an NFL career record for most touchdowns of 105 yards or more, including an NFL-record 109-yarder. But both of those plays came on kickoff returns.

When it comes to receiver, Patterson’s learning curve has been even slower than advertised when he came out of Tennessee with only one year of major college experience.

But have the Vikings been too cautious with an obvious playmaker?

“The pace that we are at is, I think, about what we could have done,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “I don’t know if we could have accelerated it. … I think the way we’ve done it is about the best way you could have done it.”

Thursday night, Patterson caught multiple passes on the same possession for the first time all season. And the resulting eight-play, 73-yard drive was perhaps the most efficient possession that offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has called and quarterback Christian Ponder has executed this season.

On the first catch, Patterson lined up to the right, ran a simple route and caught a deep ball for 20 yards. Four snaps later, he lined up to the left, motioned right, released into the right corner of the end zone and caught a 2-yard touchdown, his first as an NFL receiver.

Patterson played a season-high 39.6 percent of the offensive snaps. He also had more snaps than receiver Jarius Wright (21-18) for the first time this year. But he still only caught those two passes.

“We’ve been adding a few things here and there as the season goes on,” Frazier said. “Just keep bringing him along, just keep devising ways to utilize his talents. I think Bill is doing a good of doing that, and we are doing it at Cordarrelle’s pace.”

2. Why not K-Will, Sharrif from the get-go?

When the Vikings invested the 23rd overall draft pick on defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and then expressed complete shock and utter joy that he fell from a top-10 projection into their laps, it was easy to assume that Floyd and Kevin Williams were to team’s top two playmakers at defensive tackle.

When asked if something could be done to get both of them on the field at the same time even though they play the same three-technique position, the Vikings said that wasn’t in the plans. Neither was a nose tackle and, besides, Floyd would be part of a rotation that would protect the older Williams from playing too many snaps.

But along came the Redskins game. Forced to play at nose tackle because of injuries to Letroy Guion and Fred Evans, Williams responded with 2½ sacks in his best game in five seasons.

Floyd played 60 percent of the defensive snaps, so Frazier was asked if this should have been the starting combo from the get-go.

“We felt good, and we still do, about Letroy and Fred at [nose tackle],” he said. “The injuries occurred and all of the sudden you’re forced to do it. In Sharrif’s case, we wanted him to be able to come along. Kevin was still playing solid at the three-technique so there wasn’t a need to force [Floyd] to be a starter at Day 1.”

3. What happened to Joe Webb, playmaker?

After Peterson and Patterson, Joe Webb might be the third-best pure athletic playmaker on the team.

When the Vikings demoted Webb from backup quarterback to receiver and then kept him on the roster despite his inexperience at the new position, it was assumed something special would be added to the mix to justify and maximize Webb’s roster spot.

Perhaps they would use some old “Blazer Package” gadgets with Webb at quarterback. Maybe line him up in the backfield next to Peterson.

Heck, considering the state of the quarterback position this year, maybe use him as a read-option change of pace to scratch out some first downs, find some rhythm, run some clock and keep an exhausted defense off the field.

Well, nine games into the season, Webb has zero carries, hasn’t run the read-option and the Blazer formation was sent in only once. And that was aborted after the Vikings were flagged for an illegal formation.

Meanwhile, Webb has three catches for 24 yards. All of them came in the fourth quarter of a 25-point loss to Carolina.

Northern intelligence

There’s never a good time to lose an Aaron Rodgers. But at least the Packers have the ability to run the football consistently. Whether they maintain that ability without the threat of Rodgers passing the ball, we’ll find out now that Rodgers’ collarbone is in two pieces.

But Packers running back James Starks has three touchdown runs of 25 yards or more in a four-game span. He’s the first Packer in franchise history to do that. He’s also the only player in the league with three TD runs of 25-plus yards this season.

• • •

Jay Cutler’s early return from a torn groin muscle could go a number of ways and produce a variety of ramifications for the Bears’ season and long-term quarterback situation. At least that’s one way of looking at Sunday’s battle for first place with the Lions.

Cutler is in a contract year and Josh McCown has the hot hand. Cutler could be accused of trying to rush things for personal gain, but it’s not like he’s living check to check and wouldn’t have many other teams interested in him. Cutler, however, says the doctors were wrong when they said he’d be out at least four weeks. “As soon as I got hurt, I thought that I would be back quicker than they thought,” Cutler said. “I kind of had that mind-set throughout.”

• • •

Matthew Stafford looks barely old enough to shave. But, at 25 and in only his 54th career start, he could break Bobby Layne’s career passing record for Lions quarterbacks.

Stafford needs 286 yards against the Bears on Sunday to surpass the 15,710 that Layne threw from 1950 to ’58. In his first meeting with the Bears, Stafford threw for a season-low 242.

Three observations …

• Watching what John Fox and Gary Kubiak have gone through the past two weeks has to make Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden even happier in their analyst positions. #theyaren’tcomingback

• This is no defense of Richie Incognito, but anyone who has been in an NFL locker room — even reporters who get limited access — knows that social norms of any kind cannot be applied to that arena.

• Percy Harvin is a great player. But here’s an odd stat: His teams are 13-3 in their past 16 regular-season games (Vikings 5-2 last year, Seahawks 8-1 this year) without him.

... and two predictions

• The Cowboys’ NFL record of allowing 400-yard passers in a single season will be extended to five when Dallas visits Drew Brees on Sunday night.

• The 49ers will win a rare NFL defensive battle when they play host to a Carolina team that also specializes in the lost art.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Detroit 6:00 PM
Washington
Atlanta 6:30 PM
Miami
Toronto 6:30 PM
New York
Memphis 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Brooklyn 7:30 PM
Dallas
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Utah
San Antonio 8:00 PM
Phoenix
Buffalo 2 3rd Prd
Florida 3
Detroit 2 3rd Prd
Nashville 3
Carolina 4:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 4:00 PM
Columbus
Arizona 4:30 PM
Boston
Toronto 6:00 PM
Montreal
NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Colorado
St. Louis 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Ottawa 9:00 PM
San Jose
Kennesaw St 75 FINAL
Lipscomb 94
Navy 57 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 47
Bucknell 71 FINAL
American Univ 69
NC State 63 FINAL
Boston College 79
East Carolina 71 FINAL
UCF 66
Georgia Tech 63 FINAL
Clemson 70
Lehigh 55 FINAL
Colgate 61
Louisville 81 FINAL
Florida State 59
Missouri 44 FINAL
Georgia 68
Army 64 FINAL
Lafayette 74
Michigan 56 FINAL
Maryland 66
Georgetown 70 FINAL
St Johns 81
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
La Salle 56
Western Carolina 67 FINAL
Citadel 54
Nebraska Omaha 87 FINAL
IUPUI 80
Maine 56 FINAL
New Hampshire 65
Samford 80 FINAL
Va Military 69
Presbyterian 53 FINAL
Winthrop 80
Utah State 74 FINAL
Air Force 60
Vermont 73 FINAL
Albany 79
UMBC 69 FINAL
Binghamton 76
Indiana State 60 FINAL
Bradley 52
Butler 67 FINAL
DePaul 53
Illinois State 69 FINAL
Evansville 67
Wright State 46 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 61
Fla Gulf Coast 67 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Ole Miss 63 FINAL
LSU 73
North Carolina 73 FINAL
Miami-Florida 64
Wagner 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 74
TCU 60 FINAL
Oklahoma 67
Delaware 65 FINAL
Towson 60
Cincinnati 63 FINAL
Tulane 47
Dayton 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 55
Northern Iowa 60 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Drexel 80 FINAL
William & Mary 66
Oakland 63 FINAL
Green Bay 83
Villanova 78 FINAL
Xavier 66
Campbell 65 FINAL
Longwood 70
Sarah Lawrence 55 FINAL
NJIT 90
Middle Tennessee 63 2nd Half 4:02
UAB 67
UNC-Asheville 76 2nd Half 6:32
Liberty 58
Southern Utah 71 2nd Half 0:35
North Dakota 63
Utah Valley U 36 2nd Half 4:18
Chicago State 50
ULM 36 2nd Half 8:28
Appalachian St 55
Bowling Green 31 2nd Half 14:23
Miami-Ohio 33
Long Island 40 2nd Half 19:51
Sacred Heart 41
West Virginia 29 2nd Half
Baylor 45
Holy Cross 31 2nd Half
Boston Univ 29
MD-Eastern Shore 28 1st Half 6:49
Delaware State 27
Wofford 25 1st Half 1:01
Furman 22
Montana State 36 1st Half 2:25
Idaho 34
Hofstra 25 2nd Half
James Madison 41
Iowa State 40 2nd Half
Kansas State 33
Arkansas 19 1st Half 4:25
Kentucky 32
Missouri State 29 2nd Half
Loyola-Chicago 31
Fordham 37 2nd Half
Massachusetts 31
Nicholls 30 1st Half 0:01
McNeese State 39
East Tenn St 38 2nd Half
Mercer 34
Coppin State 3:00 PM
Morgan State
San Diego 31 2nd Half
Portland 31
Gardner-Webb 33 2nd Half
Radford 33
St Francis-PA 33 2nd Half
Robert Morris 26
Duquesne 34 2nd Half
St Bonaventure 46
Creighton 34 2nd Half
Seton Hall 24
Oklahoma State 17 2nd Half
Texas Tech 31
Alabama 38 2nd Half
Vanderbilt 27
Virginia Tech 24 2nd Half
Virginia 28
Bethune-Cookman 21 1st Half 5:31
NC Central 26
St Francis-NY 18 1st Half 0:30
Bryant 31
Drake 25 2nd Half
Southern Ill 37
High Point 11 1st Half 16:02
Char Southern 4
Central Conn St 12 1st Half 7:54
Fair-Dickinson 20
Eastern Mich 3 1st Half 13:05
Western Mich 13
Texas 4:00 PM
Kansas
Chattanooga 4:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
SE Louisiana 4:00 PM
Central Arkansas
South Dakota St 4:00 PM
South Dakota
Montana 4:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Georgia State 4:15 PM
Troy
Old Dominion 4:30 PM
North Texas
Arkansas State 4:30 PM
Texas State
Texas Southern 5:00 PM
Alabama State
Tennessee St 5:00 PM
Belmont
Princeton 5:00 PM
Brown
Dartmouth 5:00 PM
Cornell
Tennessee 5:00 PM
Florida
Jacksonville St 5:00 PM
Morehead State
San Jose St 5:00 PM
Nevada
Florida A&M 5:00 PM
NC A&T
Iowa 5:00 PM
Penn State
Loyola Marymount 5:00 PM
Pepperdine
Miss State 5:00 PM
South Carolina
Savannah State 5:00 PM
SC State
Miss Valley St 5:30 PM
Jackson State
Alcorn State 5:30 PM
Southern U
Prairie View 6:00 PM
Alabama A&M
Harvard 6:00 PM
Columbia
George Washington 6:00 PM
Davidson
Syracuse 6:00 PM
Duke
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Eastern Ky
UNC-Wilmington 6:00 PM
Elon
Stony Brook 6:00 PM
Hartford
Hampton 6:00 PM
Howard
Northwestern 6:00 PM
Illinois
Western Ill 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Kent State
Incarnate Word 6:00 PM
Lamar
Cal State Fullerton 6:00 PM
Long Beach State
TX-San Antonio 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Marshall
Richmond 6:00 PM
Saint Josephs
George Mason 6:00 PM
Saint Louis
Austin Peay 6:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Murray State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
Penn 6:00 PM
Yale
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Stetson 6:00 PM
North Florida
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Grand Canyon 6:05 PM
UMKC
Abilene Christian 6:15 PM
New Orleans
Northeastern 7:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
Tulsa 7:00 PM
Memphis
Wyoming 7:00 PM
UNLV
Central Mich 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Denver 7:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Rice
Boise State 7:00 PM
San Diego St
St Marys-CA 7:00 PM
Santa Clara
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
Sam Houston St 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
New Mexico St 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
FIU 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Ga Southern 7:15 PM
Louisiana
Ark-Little Rock 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Grambling St 7:30 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Auburn 7:30 PM
Texas A&M
Arizona 8:00 PM
Utah
Northern Ariz 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
UC Davis 0 1st Half
Cal Poly 0
New Mexico 9:00 PM
Fresno State
BYU 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Pacific 9:00 PM
San Francisco
Idaho State 9:00 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 9:05 PM
Portland State
UC Riverside 9:30 PM
CS-Northridge
Washington 9:30 PM
USC
CS-Bakersfield 9:30 PM
Seattle
UC Irvine 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Michigan 60 FINAL
Illinois 72
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
Kennesaw St 75
North Florida 45 FINAL
Stetson 77
Samford 65 FINAL
Mercer 70
Liberty 64 FINAL
Campbell 57
North Texas 48 FINAL
Old Dominion 70
St Francis-NY 62 FINAL
Bryant 52
St Francis-PA 58 FINAL
Robert Morris 73
Long Island 71 FINAL
Sacred Heart 78
Sam Houston St 52 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 60
Kent State 59 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 66
ULM 61 FINAL
Appalachian St 80
Boston U 62 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Nicholls 73 FINAL
McNeese State 68
Akron 80 FINAL
Buffalo 87
Ball State 50 FINAL
Western Mich 51
MD-Eastern Shore 68 FINAL
Delaware State 61
Northern Ill 52 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 60
Bowling Green 47 FINAL
Ohio U 67
Central Michigan 53 FINAL
Toledo 62
Coppin State 55 FINAL
Morgan State 73
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC Central 33
Central Conn St 77 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 56
Memphis 24 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 87
Georgia Tech 67 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
East Carolina 69 FINAL
Temple 79
Marist 65 FINAL
Rider 56
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Purdue 56
Fairfield 72 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Niagara 53 FINAL
Iona 81
East Tenn St 42 FINAL
(18) Chattanooga 64
Furman 70 FINAL
Wofford 53
Longwood 58 FINAL
Charleston Southern 51
UNC-Asheville 87 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 53
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
USC Upstate 60
Winthrop 60 FINAL
Presbyterian 53
Western Ill 75 FINAL
South Dakota 78
Detroit 78 FINAL
Valparaiso 57
Cleveland State 61 2nd Half 0:48
Milwaukee 67
Lafayette 41 FINAL
Army 57
Arkansas State 74 2nd Half 0:12
Texas State 81
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 88
IUPUI 53 FINAL
South Dakota St 82
Tennessee St 70 2nd Half 0:33
Belmont 53
Eastern Illinois 55 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Jacksonville St 82 1st OT 0:33
Morehead St 78
Kansas State 47 FINAL
TCU 67
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
SMU 46
SE Louisiana 57 2nd Half 0:09
Central Arkansas 73
Denver 40 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 53
Tulane 52 FINAL
Tulsa 54
IUPU-Ft Wayne 53 2nd Half 1:14
Oral Roberts 80
Air Force 27 2nd Half
Utah State 29
San Diego State 30 2nd Half
Boise State 31
Fresno State 25 2nd Half
New Mexico 26
Florida A&M 23 2nd Half
NC A&T 38
Gonzaga 31 1st Half 1:57
BYU 26
South Florida 43 2nd Half
UCF 41
UCLA 24 1st Half 1:28
Washington 30
(3) Baylor 31 2nd Half
Iowa State 30
Miss Valley St 25 2nd Half
Jackson State 24
Tenn Tech 38 2nd Half
Eastern Kentucky 31
UMKC 16 2nd Half
Grand Canyon 23
Seattle 33 2nd Half
CS-Bakersfield 31
Texas Southern 27 1st Half 0:55
Alabama State 25
Santa Clara 28 1st Half 1:03
St Marys-CA 28
UNLV 27 2nd Half
Wyoming 56
Savannah State 29 2nd Half
SC State 33
Alcorn State 3:00 PM
Southern U
Bucknell 28 2nd Half
American Univ 28
Eastern Washington 29 2nd Half
Montana 31
Idaho 32 2nd Half
Montana State 30
Weber State 23 2nd Half
Idaho State 33
Radford 27 2nd Half
High Point 49
Green Bay 20 1st Half 9:44
Youngstown St 7
Oakland 5 1st Half 15:52
Illinois-Chicago 0
Austin Peay 8 1st Half 10:30
SE Missouri St 10
Wagner 13 1st Half 9:32
Mount St Marys 16
Portland 4:00 PM
San Diego
Nevada 4:00 PM
San Jose St
Stephen F Austin 4:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Incarnate Word 4:00 PM
Lamar
Abilene Christian 4:00 PM
New Orleans
Pepperdine 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
San Francisco 4:00 PM
Pacific
Prairie View 4:00 PM
Alabama A&M
Hampton 4:00 PM
Howard
Chicago State 4:00 PM
Utah Valley U
Murray State 4:00 PM
UT Martin
Cal Poly 4:00 PM
Cal-Irvine
Marshall 4:00 PM
Florida Atlantic
Portland State 4:00 PM
Sacramento St
UC Santa Barbara 4:00 PM
UC Davis
Western Ky 5:00 PM
FIU
UAB 5:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Georgia Southern 5:00 PM
Louisiana
Grambling 5:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Ark-Little Rock 5:00 PM
TX-Arlington
Cornell 5:00 PM
Dartmouth
Columbia 5:00 PM
Harvard
Brown 5:00 PM
(14) Princeton
USC 5:00 PM
Washington St
(24) California 5:00 PM
(7) Oregon State
Yale 6:00 PM
Penn
Loyola-Maryland 6:00 PM
Navy
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
(21) Fla Gulf Coast
Long Beach St 6:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Rice 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Colgate 6:30 PM
Lehigh
CS-Northridge 7:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Kansas 7:00 PM
Oklahoma
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Northern Colorado 9:00 PM
Northern Ariz
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: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close