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

Jamarca SanfordMar 6 01:33p

New Orleans Saints SS Jamarca Sanford re-signed to a one-year contract Friday, March 6. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Brandon MarshallMar 6 01:23p

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall was traded to the New York Jets in exchange for a fifth-round pick, pending a physical, per a league source.

Niles PaulMar 6 12:33p

Washington Redskins TE Niles Paul re-signed Friday, March 6. Paul could earn up to a little under $10 million with the new contract.

Matt PraterMar 6 12:13p

Detroit Lions PK Matt Prater signed a three-year, $9 million contract extension Friday, March 6.

Marques ColstonMar 6 10:43a

New Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston restructured his contract Friday, March 6, and will return in 2015.

Reggie WayneMar 6 10:43a

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent WR Reggie Wayne will not be re-signed for 2015, the team announced Friday, March 6.

Jerome SimpsonMar 5 05:33p

Free-agent WR Jerome Simpson (Vikings) signed a two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers Thursday, March 5.

LaMarr WoodleyMar 5 05:13p

Oakland Raiders LB LaMarr Woodley was officially released Thursday, March 5.

Vince WilforkMar 5 01:23p

Free-agent DT Vince Wilfork (Patriots) said he still plans to play in 2015, and he could return to the New England Patriots. 'Can I still play football? Hell yea! [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 5 01:03p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's meeting with head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman Wednesday, March 4, went well after the parties spent more than four hours [ More ]

Peyton ManningMar 5 12:53p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning officially passed his physical and will return for the 2015 season.

Dwayne BoweMar 5 11:53a

Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe my be cut if the team can not trade him.

Vince WilforkMar 5 09:53a

New England Patriots DT Vince Wilfork announced that the Patriots will not pick up his option for the 2015 season, which makes him a free agent.

Darnell DockettMar 5 09:53a

Free-agent DE Darnell Dockett (Cardinals) agreed with the San Francisco 49ers Thursday, March 5, according to his agent Drew Rosenhaus.

Keith RiversMar 4 08:23p

Free-agent LB Keith Rivers (Bills) signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday, March 4. Rivers will add depth to the team's linebacking group. He has plenty of [ More ]

Matt CasselMar 4 07:53p

Minnesota Vikings QB Matt Cassel was traded to the Buffalo Bills Wednesday, March 4. The Bills swapped their 2015 fifth-round pick for the Vikings 2015 sixth-round draft pick. Minnesota [ More ]

Pierre ThomasMar 4 07:53p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas was released Wednesday, March 4.

Trent ColeMar 4 04:13p

Philadelphia Eagles LB Trent Cole was officially cut Wednesday, March 4.

DeMeco RyansMar 4 01:03p

Philadelphia Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans (Achilles'), who tore his Achilles' halfway through the 2014 season, probably won't be back with the team after they acquired LB Kiko Alonso from [ More ]

Andre JohnsonMar 4 11:23a

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson has asked the team to release him this offseason.

LeSean McCoyMar 3 06:43p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy will reportedly be traded for Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso.

Kiko AlonsoMar 3 06:43p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy will reportedly be traded for Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso.

Tyvon BranchMar 3 05:23p

Oakland Raiders SS Tyvon Branch was officially released, as expected, Tuesday, March 3.

DeMarco MurrayMar 3 01:43p

Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent RB DeMarco Murray would likely re-sign with the Cowboys if the offer they make him is equal or similar financially to offers he receives from [ More ]

Cole BeasleyMar 3 01:13p

Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $13.1 million. The extension could be worth as much as $15.1 million.

Andre JohnsonMar 2 11:03p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson was asked to accept a reduced role, but he declined and asked to be traded or cut, according to people familiar with the situation.

Bernard PollardMar 2 07:23p

Tennessee Titans SS Bernard Pollard has been informed that he will be released, according to sources familiar with the situation. Pollard asked the Titans to release him last month. [ More ]

Le'Veon BellMar 2 04:33p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell could be suspended up to four games, according to the NFL's new substance-abuse policy. A two-game suspension is standard for a DUI resulting from [ More ]

J.D. WaltonMar 2 04:13p

New York Giants C J.D. Walton was released Monday, March 2.

Lance MooreMar 2 04:03p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Lance Moore was released Monday, March 2.

Brad JonesMar 2 03:53p

Free-agent LB Brad Jones (Packers) signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, March 2. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Charles ClayMar 2 03:12p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay received the transition tag Monday, March 2, according to a source. The transition tag for tight ends is worth $7.071 million.

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