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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Vikings hope to prove Week 1 was 'anomaly'

    This is an excellent article & addresses a lot of the issues that were brought up this week on PPO. Now lets put all negativity aside, play football & kick butt!

    "Star Trek fans will recall fondly the way their heroes described unexplainable, mysterious irregularities they encountered while seeking new worlds and new civilizations. Anomaly ... as in, Captain, the anomaly appears to be growing. There is no logical explanation for its existence. But at its current rate, it will consume this vessel in 1.9 seconds.

    With perhaps a subconscious reference to his youth, Vikings coach Mike Tice used the same word to describe his team's stunning offensive collapse last week in the season opening game against Tampa Bay. In a 24-13 loss, the Vikings offense produced their lowest yardage total (248) since 2001 and went without a touchdown for the first time in 49 games.

    Hands wrung throughout the Upper Midwest. Was it a sign of things to come in the post-Randy Moss era? Have we reached the end of Vikings football as we know it? Or was it merely, well, a blip on the radar screen of your nearest starship?

    Fans watched in horror last week.Lisa BlumenfeldGetty Images"We're thinking this is more a one-time thing than a weekly thing," Tice said. "I think everybody across the board believes it that way. ... It's not panic-button time. Hopefully, it's an anomaly. And I think it is. It's not a weekly occurrence. I feel confident we will be a lot better this week."

    Is it quite that simple? Will the Vikings offense come roaring back with its typical 350-yard, three-touchdown game today against Cincinnati? Or has it reached a startling crisis one week into a 16-game season?

    Inside we break down the four key elements of their offensive attack.

    OFFENSIVE LINE

    Recent history: The Vikings' interior line got crushed by Tampa Bay defensive tackles Anthony McFarland and Chris Hovan. No one could stop their interior pass rush, and almost no running lanes materialized. All five positions were at fault, but most of the blame fell to center Cory Withrow and guards Marcus Johnson and Chris Liwienski.

    It's an anomaly because ... the Bucs posed a unique matchup problem: two interior lineman who were both strong and quick. If they play the way they did Sunday, McFarland and Hovan will wreak havoc on plenty of teams this season.

    We would be remiss if we didn't mention Tice's extensive background as an offensive line coach. He developed Liwienski and will get him back on track. He will adjust blocking schemes to keep Withrow, all 287 pounds of him, from physical mismatches. Tice also will induce weekly improvement from Johnson, a rookie with undeniably high potential.

    It's a crisis because ... Withrow, filling in for the injured Matt Birk, will never be 300 pounds, at least not during his football career. Without significant help, he must employ perfect technique and fundamentals in order to match up with an NFL defender. Unfortunately, Withrow's backup -- currently Melvin Fowler -- is 295 pounds and, like Withrow, is a backup for a reason.

    Johnson might well possess limitless ability, but rookie offensive linemen almost always struggle when inserted into the lineup immediately. And there is little help available. The top backup at both guard and tackle positions is the same person, Adam Goldberg, who was demoted from the starting lineup in training camp.

    QUARTERBACK

    Recent history: After posting MVP-like numbers in 2004 and accepting nearly $8 million in raises this season, Culpepper tied a career-high with five turnovers. He was sacked three times and finished with a career-low 49.2 quarterback rating.

    It's an anomaly because ... The turnovers weren't all Culpepper's fault. He was rushed heavily on his first, forcing an early throw to receiver Nate Burleson. On one of Culpepper's fumbles, Burleson failed to notice a hand signal and ran the wrong route as the primary receiver.

    Culpepper's physical ability and competitiveness make him one of the few NFL players who can will himself to outmaneuver opponents.

    Don't forget, the Buccaneers are a well-coached defense. They were so prepared, in fact, that several times they nullified Culpepper's audibles by checking out of defenses prior to the snap.
    It's a crisis because ... Culpepper's performance was not unprecedented. In fact, it was reminiscent of the first half of 2002, when the Randy Ratio got inside his head and eventually led to a brief benching. Culpepper has a history of getting rattled when he makes early mistakes or is forced into poor decisions.

    Do you remember what got Culpepper out of that slump? It was Tice's decision to make offensive coordinator Scott Linehan the unofficial quarterbacks coach. An excellent teacher with a great personal touch, Linehan formally carried that title in 2003 and 2004 -- the two best seasons of Culpepper's career.

    Do you know where Linehan is now? Miami, of course, where he is the Dolphins offensive coordinator. There are many who believe Linehan's departure ultimately will impact Culpepper more than the Moss trade or the loss of Birk.

    RUNNING BACKS

    Recent history: With Moe Williams starting, Michael Bennett relieving and Mewelde Moore watching, Vikings running backs totaled 14 yards on 12 carries against Tampa Bay. Bennett produced an especially impressive minus-1 yard in six attempts.

    It's an anomaly because ... The offensive line provided so little daylight that Jim Brown might have had a hard time. Williams, especially, is a hard runner who gets every yard available to him.

    Bennett is healthy and in a contract year, an unstoppable combination for a player of his speed. He can get stopped 10 times a game, but a few 20-plus yard runs and long screen plays would make up for it.

    There is help behind Bennett if he falters. Moore is considered by many to be the team's best overall running back, and he will get an opportunity once coaches deem his left ankle is healthy. Another name to remember is rookie Ciatrick Fason, who like Williams excels in getting every inch that a defense gives him. If the offensive line doesn't blow open huge holes, Fason can still find yards.

    It's a crisis because ... The inability to establish a clear No. 1 runner this summer is the final indication that the Vikings simply don't have one on their roster. It means another year of patchwork lineups and limited rhythm in the running game. Although Moore might be the best tailback, there is a clear disconnect between his ability and the coaching staff's priorities.

    The lack of a premier threat allows defenses to play the run and pass with equal honesty, giving the Vikings few opportunities for exploitation in gameplanning. And frankly, in today's fantasy football-driven world, constant questions about the back of the week will prove a distraction.

    ORGANIZATION OF THE OFFENSE

    Recent history: The Vikings offense was in disarray during the first regular-season game with a revamped coaching staff: two delay-of-game penalties, almost as many turnovers (five) as points (six) and no rhythm all made for a long day.

    It's an anomaly because ... Fundamental changes take more than one game to master. If all goes according to plan, the offense will run smoother each week. A playcalling structure that includes input from three coaches will take a more routine form, and Culpepper will grow more comfortable with his relatively new surroundings.

    After all, there is too much talent on the roster for this offense to struggle all season. It might take a few games, but coaches and players will begin to realize what they are good at and what they struggle with. Over time, they will emphasize the former and minimize the latter.

    It's a crisis because ... The plan for Steve Loney to handle the coordinator job, playcalling and primary responsibility for the line was doomed from the start. No coach can handle that much of an obligation, no matter how many assistants are hired underneath him. Unless a fundamental reorganization occurs, the offense will have limited rhythm.

    The only player capable of imposing rhythm is Culpepper, both by personality and by position. Asking Culpepper to overcome a less-than-ideal coaching arrangement, an injury-torn offensive line and no clear hierarchy in the backfield is too much for any one player.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Vikings hope to prove Week 1 was 'anomaly'

    I posted the entire article because fans did not want to register to read it & I could not get a work around link.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  3. #3
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    Re: Vikings hope to prove Week 1 was 'anomaly'

    Looks like week one was for real fellas..
    Go Pack go!!!

  4. #4
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    Re: Vikings hope to prove Week 1 was 'anomaly'

    "scott72" wrote:
    Looks like week one was for real fellas..
    Not true. The Vikings defense looked good last week.

    Packer bastard. :wink:

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