Posted on Mon, Oct. 02, 2006

[size=13pt]Dink 'Em Dizzy offense isn't getting job done for Vikings[/size]

BY TOP POWERS
Pioneer Press


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.

Don't worry, this West Coast offense thing is right on schedule. There are just a few little glitches to be ironed out.

"For the most part," quarterback Brad Johnson explained, "I think with the passing game we need to be more efficient, and with the running game as a whole."

That's all.

"The only struggle I have is that I know it's a hell of an offense when it's clicking," coach Brad Childress said. "And I just want to see it executed better, and we will."

Shhhhh, listen. Do you hear a clicking sound? Me neither.

The Vikings' offense lit up the scoreboard for 12 big ones Sunday. The net result is that the team now is officially mediocre at 2-2. And if not for Carolina's ridiculous punt-return play two weeks ago, the Vikings would be worse than mediocre.

It's unfortunate that the Purple are wasting a lot of good defensive play. On the bright side, I was able to track the final day of the baseball pennant races on my laptop. That was so much more interesting than watching Chester Taylor burst up the middle for 1 yard.

Taylor carried 10 times for 23 yards.

"I felt we could have ran the ball a lot more," he said.

Give me a break.

I'm not saying this offense never will come together, although I'm pretty well sick of it. But it never will come together if the Vikings continue to 1) commit penalties, and 2) fail to do anything on first down. These fellows appear to be getting dumber by the week. They were flagged 12 times against the Bills. Twelve times! It makes you wonder if they are smart enough to use sharp eating utensils.

Right now, I'm thinking wooden spoons and dribble cups, just so no one gets hurt.

Meanwhile, a lot of NFL teams have trouble on third down. The Vikings struggle long before they get to that point. Their little dink plays are netting next to nothing on first down. So they immediately face second and long. Which invariably is followed by third and long. The "long" is a major problem.

Johnson and Childress both said the Bills guarded against the deep pass all afternoon, forcing the Vikings to dump the ball off underneath. Johnson threw the ball 44 times. And yet the Vikings didn't go anywhere until they started gambling at the end of the game. That's when they scored their first offensive touchdown since opening night.

Perhaps the worst part of it all is that the Vikings had terrific field position almost all afternoon. They'd get the ball near midfield and either go nowhere or start moving backward because of penalties.

So what can they do? Well, Childress said during the week that tight end Jermaine Wiggins would be more involved. He was, catching six passes. Yet it didn't do a bit of good.

All I know is that when the offense was down by two scores in the final minutes and got a little panicky, it moved the ball well — scoring once and almost twice as time ran out. Granted, the Bills were in a prevent type of defense. Still, if I were in charge of this offense, I'd start panicking about 10 minutes before the opening kickoff.

Those late offensive bursts Sunday give credence to the theory that the team is too conservative for most of the game. I always assume that coaches — guys who get paid to figure these things out — know better than we do how to conduct their business.

But four games into the season, the faltering offense isn't even a little bit better. Plus, we know Johnson is a good quarterback. He's just not thriving in the current system. Everyone thought he would. I guess everyone was wrong, and maybe it's time to make an adjustment.

So perhaps they should start listening to the peanut gallery and open things up. If they do, they need to get Marcus Johnson out of there. He'll get the quarterback killed. Johnson has been awful at tackle. Clearly it's time to slide down the depth chart and try someone else.

If there is some sort of technical beauty to the Dink 'Em Dizzy, it's whizzing right past me. In fact, based on what I hear, a lot of people aren't quite getting it. I understand that ugly and boring is good if it nets results. But ugly and boring and hopeless?

Yuck.

Tom Powers can be reached at [email protected]