In my game story in this morning's Star Tribune, I wrote about how often quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Christian Ponder looked to running backs and tight ends in the first half of the Vikings' 20-7 exhibition victory at Seattle.
Because of the time difference between Seattle and Minnesota, and thus the tight deadline I was on to write the game story, I didn't have a chance to talk to Vikings coach Leslie Frazier or quarterback Donovan McNabb about this before filing. By the way, running backs were targeted seven times and tight ends saw six passes come their way in the opening 30 minutes.
While new Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is expected to use his running backs and tight ends in the passing game, Frazier (not surprisingly) said the assumption should not be that the offense will be in any way predictable.
“When you talk to Bill and the offensive coaches, they’ll let you know it’s going to be game plan week-to-week based on what defenses are doing and what they’re giving us and what they’re trying to take away," Frazier said. "So, what we did tonight, that’s what was there so we took advantage of it. It will be that way throughout the season. We have the ability to throw the football down field we think with the people that we do have. We think we’ve got the best slot receiver in the National Football League [in Percy Harvin], if we can get the ball in his hands as well. It just depends on what the defense is giving.”
Said McNabb: “We would like to put that portrayal out [about throwing to running backs and tight ends] but no. It’s just taking what the defense gives you. You want to be smart with the ball, eliminate turnovers, try to keep your team in a great opportunity to win but most importantly to be aggressive and take shots when they’re there. We tried to take shots down field. They played some man and some zone. I just try to give our guys an opportunity to catch the ball and get up field.”
While the Vikings certainly are going to want to go vertical at times, the reality is that guys like Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Visanthe Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolph are going to see plenty of passes come their way.
“It’s nice," Gerhart said. "Whenever you get the ball in your hands it’s awesome. It’s nice to be involved. I always pat the quarterback on the back when they check it down to us. We like it. It’s just basically another carry for us.”