Notes on the game
New twist a big hit - Revamped play-calling system earns praise
BY SEAN JENSEN and DON SEEHOLZER, Pioneer Press
CHICAGO Ã¢â‚¬â€ Although the offense scored only three points, the Vikings praised the revamped offensive play calling, which featured one twist.
Vikings offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Loney called the plays. But quarterbacks coach Rich Olson, instead of coach Mike Tice, relayed the calls to quarterback Daunte Culpepper.
"It went good," Tice said. "Early, we talked through some things. I made sure everybody was saying what they had to say, when they had to say it. Then I thought the rest of the game it went very well."
The Vikings were successful moving the ball in the first half against the Chicago Bears' third-rated defense. But they were unable to score twice in the red zone. In addition, they converted just three of 16 third downs for the game.
Loney said the Vikings need to continue to work on communication.
"We'll work hard at that," Loney said. "It wasn't ideal, but it went fairly smooth. We had no delay of games, but there were two or three times I wish we'd done better."
Tice said he "interjected and talked through some things a couple of times," but not on anything significant.
But Vikings running back Mewelde Moore said the onus is on the players.
"Things went really well," Moore said of the play-calling arrangement. "We've just got to finish our plays. We're doing things to get into the red zone. But we just got to finish drives."
Penalties prime: The Vikings' offense played a clean first quarter with no penalties, and they moved the ball. But they got sloppier as the game progressed. Right tackle Mike Rosenthal was called for three holding penalties, one of which was declined, and right guard Adam Goldberg committed two penalties.
And the offense struggled with five false starts.
The worst stretch of penalties occurred in the second quarter, when tight end Jermaine Wiggins was called for a false start and Goldberg for holding on consecutive plays inside the Bears' 10-yard line.
"It's just a lack of focus," Wiggins said. "I mean, I was guilty for two, and that's just a lack of focus on my part. I should know better than that. It's just a lack of focus, me not keying the ball and getting antsy."
Fowler solid: Melvin Fowler replaced Cory Withrow as the starting center, and he did a solid job, according to Loney.
"He did all right. There were a couple of things that he'll learn from," Loney said. "But for the most part, he made the right calls. It's now just the adjustments we've got to work through."
Fowler said he did some "positive things," but he lamented there was much he needed to work on, without mentioning anything specific.
Fowler said he is comfortable at center, and he believed the offensive line was cohesive, despite several costly penalties.
"We battled our behinds off," he said. "But we got stuck in some crazy situations, and a lot of that was self-induced."
New look: With defensive end Kenechi Udeze out for the season after knee surgery and backup Spencer Johnson sidelined by a knee injury, the Vikings made extensive use of a 3-4 scheme in their base and nickel defenses.
Pat Williams played nose tackle in the 3-4 look, with Darrion Scott, Lance Johnstone and Erasmus James all seeing time at defensive end and Kevin Williams seeing action at both positions.
Johnstone and linebacker Napoleon Harris each had one sack for the Vikings, while Scott and Kevin Williams shared a sack.
Injury report: Tight end Richard Owens suffered a concussion while breaking up the wedge on the second-half kickoff and did not return, although trainer Chuck Barta said he was doing well.
The only other injuries were to guard Marcus Johnson, who suffered a mild concussion on a second-quarter kick, and Johnstone, who suffered a right arm stinger in the first half but returned.
Record book: With one of the Vikings' three sacks, Johnstone moved within a half-sack of Gary Larsen for 10th place on the team's all-time list.
Johnstone has 36Ã‚Â½ career sacks with the Vikings, including 4Ã‚Â½ against Chicago, his most against any team.
Wiggins caught a career-high 10 passes, topping his previous best of eight last season against Philadelphia and Detroit.
Fans overboard: Cornerback Antoine Winfield said he realizes that a lot of Vikings fans are probably ready to jump ship right now, and he said he wouldn't blame them.
"I wouldn't watch us anymore," he said. "We're not putting anything good on the field. We're not scoring; we're not really stopping anybody. I don't know, though. That's me."
"From the fury of the Northmen, O Lord, save us!"
-- From a monestary in Ireland.