2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Vikings offensive coordinator showing creativity

    2013-01-03 05:13

(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.)
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota's offense has a simple focus: Adrian Peterson. The Vikings aren't scheming to surprise opponents by throwing 50 passes per game.

That doesn't mean offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave doesn't have plenty to work on. Just because the Vikings have a straight-forward, no-frills style doesn't mean Musgrave hasn't had to dig deep in the playbook to find combinations, alignments and calls that work to keep the attack balanced and the defense guessing at least some of the time.

Coaches and players have credited Musgrave for his ingenuity, particularly over the last month as the Vikings won four straight games to force a rematch this Saturday with Green Bay in the playoffs. In last Sunday's win over the Packers, Musgrave unveiled several wrinkles that proved effective.

In the second quarter, wide receiver Jarius Wright lined up as a fullback in front of Peterson before running to the flat and snagging an 8-yard touchdown pass. In the third quarter, fullback Jerome Felton, who had two receptions and no carries over the first 15 games, lined up as a receiver and was wide open for a 17-yard reception during a drive that reached the end zone.

``As the ball was in the air I was like, `Hold on, is that coming to me?''' Felton said.

The Vikings accumulated a season-high 444 yards against the Packers. Coach Leslie Frazier, without prompting, credited Musgrave and the other offensive assistants for the plan.

``He's so intelligent and so creative in what he does, and obviously with Adrian there are only so many runs you can create and do, but he still finds new ways to get him the ball and obviously that's working,'' quarterback Christian Ponder said. ``In the passing game, finding ways to get guys open and create different throws and play actions and all these different things. He has such a great understanding of defenses. I think that's the biggest thing that impresses me.''

Musgrave's system hasn't always worked so smoothly. The Vikings netted 120 or fewer yards passing six times this season, though they won four of those games. As the offense sputtered early in their worst loss of 2012 - a 36-17 setback at home against Tampa Bay - one agitated and inebriated fan in the crowd started yelling toward the coaches' box, ``Hey Musgrave! Three and out! Three and out! Three and out!'' (Musgrave stands on the sideline during games, so the complaint was misdirected.)

Wide receiver Percy Harvin acknowledged earlier this season that his frustration with the organization, expressed publicly during minicamp, stemmed from a lack of clarity about his role and said the communication from Musgrave last year wasn't consistent. One of the reasons Frazier hired Musgrave in 2011 was the work he did in Atlanta with quarterback Matt Ryan, the 2008 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, but Ponder regressed at midseason and looked lost until a recovery last month.

After that first game in Green Bay, when Ponder threw two costly interceptions deep in Packers territory, Musgrave tried to take some of the mounting pressure on the quarterback, asking him to make throws the next two games that were even safer than usual. With a couple of important victories to help Ponder's confidence recover, he played more assertively the last two weeks.

``As players we go out there and execute and actually make it happen, but you need coaches to put you in positions to be successful,'' center John Sullivan said. ``I think Bill's done a great job of that.''

Musgrave is a soft-spoken as coaches come, holding pleasant but unrevealing news conferences each week with reporters and rarely showing emotion on the sideline during games. Even so, he has a bit of the mad scientist in him. He wrote a quarterback's handbook years ago, with 100 rules to live by for those playing the position at all levels, based on his own insights, beliefs and experiences. Musgrave said earlier this season that Ryan memorized it his rookie year with the Falcons.

In training camp this year, after a lethargic practice, Musgrave tried to motivate his group by putting a bunch of leaves and sticks on a table during a meeting and lighting it on fire, visual evidence of the offense's responsibility to be the spark of the team. He had a garbage can of water nearby to safely extinguish the flames.

Five months later, and Musgrave is still finding ways to ignite the Vikings.

``He tries to put us in the best position possible to make plays,'' wide receiver Michael Jenkins said. ``You're pretty excited to see what's in the playbook when you come in for the next week. It's a fun offense to play in.''

---

AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.

---

Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Adrian PetersonApr 16 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been informed that he will be reinstated from the commissioner exempt list starting Friday, April 17.

Sammy WatkinsApr 15 11:33p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (hip) is able to work out in some capacity during the team's offseason program, although head coach Rex Ryan indicated Wednesday, April 15, that [ More ]

Kai ForbathApr 15 10:53p

Washington Redskins restricted free-agent PK Kai Forbath posted on social media Wednesday, April 15, that he has re-signed with the team. The club has not yet confirmed the signing.

George JohnsonApr 15 08:33a

Detroit Lions DE George Johnson was acquired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, April 15. Tampa signed Johnson to an offer sheet that was disputed by Detroit, but the [ More ]

Philip RiversApr 15 12:13a

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers is under contract for one more season, and he has expressed a desire to play out his deal. However, the Chargers might be [ More ]

Josh GordyApr 14 06:03p

Free-agent CB Josh Gordy (Colts) signed a veteran minimum deal with the New York Giants Tuesday, April 14, according to a source.

Ricardo LocketteApr 14 05:23p

Seattle Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette signed his exclusive-rights tender Tuesday, April 14.

Ike TaylorApr 14 09:32a

Free-agent CB Ike Taylor (Steelers) announced his retirement Tuesday, April 14.

Wade SmithApr 14 02:12a

Free-agent OG Wade Smith (Eagles) announced his retirement after 12 years in the National Football League.

Michael CrabtreeApr 14 01:13a

The Oakland Raiders are giving free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) a one-year, $3 million deal with another $2 million in incentives, a source said Monday, April 13.

Eben BrittonApr 14 01:03a

Free-agent OT Eben Britton (Bears) has been suspended four games by the NFL for an unspecified violation.

Matt ForteApr 13 08:02p

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte was not present for the start of the offseason workouts Monday, April 13, according to sources. Forte is entering the final year of his [ More ]

Cody LatimerApr 13 08:02p

Denver Broncos WR Cody Latimer, who is expected to line up across from WR Demaryius Thomas in 2015, has been praised by WR Emmanuel Sanders, who figures to move [ More ]

Joe MaysApr 13 04:32p

Free-agent LB Joe Mays (Chiefs) signed an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Monday, April 13.

Zackary BowmanApr 13 02:22p

Free-agent CB Zack Bowman (Giants) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Monday, April 13.

Sean RichardsonApr 13 02:02p

Green Bay Packers restricted free-agent SS Sean Richardson will remain with the Packers after the team decided to match the one-year, $2.55 million offer he signed with the Oakland Raiders, according to a source.

Sean RichardsonApr 12 10:02a

Green Bay Packers restricted free-agent SS Sean Richardson signed an offer sheet with the Oakland Raiders, and the Packers have until Monday, April 13, to inform him if they [ More ]

Jason CampbellApr 12 07:02a

Free-agent QB Jason Campbell (Bengals) is considering retirement, according to sources close to the team. Campbell has rejected multiple opportunities to sign a contract for 2015, including offers from [ More ]

James CaseyApr 11 01:02p

Free-agent TE James Casey (Eagles) agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos Saturday, April 11. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Johnny ManzielApr 11 12:22p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel has been released from his rehab facility.

Victor ButlerApr 10 03:22p

New York Giants LB Victor Butler has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Anthony SpencerApr 10 01:12p

Free-agent DE Anthony Spencer (Cowboys) signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints Friday, April 10. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Charles TillmanApr 9 04:02p

Free-agent CB Charles Tillman (Bears) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Thursday, April 9. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rob HouslerApr 9 12:42p

Free-agent TE Rob Housler (Cardinals) has agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns on a one-year deal, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Le'Veon BellApr 9 09:52a

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell was suspended three games and fined an additional game check after violating the league's substance abuse policy, according to league sources. He has appealed.

Stevan RidleyApr 8 07:53p

New York Jets RB Stevan Ridley signed a one-year deal with the team.

Amobi OkoyeApr 8 04:53p

Dallas Cowboys DT Amobi Okoye was released Wednesday, April 8.

Emmanuel LamurApr 8 03:43p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Emmanuel Lamur officially re-signed Wednesday, April 8, to a one-year, $2.356 million deal.

Adrian PetersonApr 8 01:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is 'highly unlikely' to face more suspension from the league when he's finally off the Commissioner's Exempt List, according to a source. Peterson's next [ More ]

George JohnsonApr 7 10:23p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed restricted free-agent DE George Johnson (Lions) to a three-year offer sheet Tuesday, April 7. Financial terms are undisclosed. The Lions have five days to match the offer.

Le'Veon BellApr 7 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell is expected to be suspended for the first two games of next season, according to sources. Bell is being suspended following an arrest last [ More ]

Erin HendersonApr 7 05:13p

Free-agent LB Erin Henderson (Vikings) agreed to terms on an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Tuesday, April 7, according to a source. Henderson didn't play last year [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group