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

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Brandon BrownerOct 30 04:32p

New England Patriots DT Alan Branch (non-injury related) and DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Nate Ebner (finger), DL Dominique Easley (knee), OL Cameron [ More ]

Brandon ThompsonOct 30 04:22p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring), LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and OG Kevin Zeitler (calf) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DT Domata Peko (toe) and OT Andre Smith [ More ]

Dwight FreeneyOct 30 04:22p

San Diego Chargers LB Manti Te'o (foot), CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) and S Jahleel Addae (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) was limited. CB [ More ]

Donald BrownOct 30 04:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown (concussion) practiced fully Thursday, Oct. 30.

Terrell SuggsOct 30 04:02p

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (foot) and LB Terrell Suggs (neck) all did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Marshal Yanda (knee) [ More ]

Brett KeiselOct 30 03:52p

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) and SS Ross Ventrone (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Ike Taylor (forearm) and FS [ More ]

Bruce CarterOct 30 03:22p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (finger) suffered a broken ring finger during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, but expects to play in Week 9. He will wear a splint on his finger for protection.

Cullen JenkinsOct 30 03:12p

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back, hamstring) and P Steve Weatherford (ankle) were both limited in practice.

Brandon BoykinOct 30 03:12p

Philadelphia Eagles FS Nate Allen (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. TE Brent Celek (back) and WR Brad Smith (groin) were both limited in practice. CB [ More ]

D'Qwell JacksonOct 30 03:12p

Indianapolis Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson (toe), DT Arthur Jones (ankle), LB Erik Walden (quadriceps) and LB Josh McNary (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Vontae [ More ]

Rashad JenningsOct 30 02:42p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) said he is on track in terms of his rehab, but there is no timetable for his return. Jennings said he has [ More ]

Jordan CameronOct 30 02:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Anthony CollinsOct 30 02:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Oniel Cousins is working at left tackle with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, because OT Anthony Collins (foot) is sitting out practice.

Doug MartinOct 30 02:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Jason VerrettOct 30 01:52p

San Diego Chargers CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) is expected to miss two to three weeks with a torn labrum, according to two sources.

DeAngelo WilliamsOct 30 01:52p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will start the team's Week 9 game against the New Orleans Saints Thursday, Oct. 30, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 01:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) received most of the work with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, and will start in Week 9 if he [ More ]

Jaylen WatkinsOct 30 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles SS Earl Wolff, FS Chris Maragos and CB Jaylen Watkins could be options to start at safety if FS Nate Allen (hamstring) is not able to play in Week 9.

Giovani BernardOct 30 01:22p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 01:02p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) didn't take part in the walk-through Thursday, Oct. 30, and will not practice with the team. However, head coach Jason Garrett remains hopeful [ More ]

Trent RichardsonOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Reggie WayneOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 12:22p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo's (back) status is making head coach Jason Garrett feel optimistic about his availability for Week 9.

Dallas ThomasOct 30 11:43a

Miami Dolphins OG Dallas Thomas would be the most likely candidate to start at left guard if OG Daryn Colledge (illness) is not able to play in Week 9.

Rashad JenningsOct 30 11:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) has been ruled out for Week 9.

Phil BatesOct 30 10:52a

The Cleveland Browns signed free-agent WR Phil Bates (Seahawks) to the practice squad and released CB Marcus Cromartie Thursday, Oct. 30.

Charles SimsOct 30 10:13a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims could have 10 or more touches in Week 9, in the opinion of beat writer Greg Auman.

Ryan MathewsOct 30 09:52a

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) is likely to sit out of the Week 9 game and return after the Week 10 bye.

Dennis PittaOct 30 09:52a

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) may never be able to play football again after two surgeries on a fractured and dislocated hip in as many seasons.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group