It’s out with the old-school, and in with the NFL’s new-age for the Minnesota Vikings offense.
Despite having plenty of great players, the Vikings offense often fell flat in recent years. There’s a reason for it.
The attack was too basic and predictable.
“We had an old-style offense last year,” receiver Justin Jefferson told Jori Epstein of USA Today. “It’s 2022. You get into a new age and move to a new generation. Adding new things to the offense definitely allows us to be more comfortable with the offense and work in different areas of the fields.”
The result, according to Jefferson, will be an offense that is “very less predictable.”
Unpredictability places a premium on self-scouting. A team needs to know what it’s done in past situations in order to be truly unpredictable moving forward. To break its tendencies. To catch defenses off guard.
“If you don’t have a system where you can make subtle tweaks and adjustments where you can go play this team that may be completely different from last Sunday, you probably don’t have a great system in the first place,” coach Kevin O’Connell said. “That’s what we’ve tried to build here.”
“We’re thinking about the process and ‘why,’” O’Connell added. “There’s a real dangerous thing that goes on in the NFL where it’s ‘how it’s always been done’ or ‘how I’ve always done things.'”
He’s right. As an offensive coach, he also brings a much-needed offensive continuity to the Minnesota offense. Former head coach Mike Zimmer, an expert in defense, had a revolving door at offensive coordinator. The best one (Pat Shurmur) got a head-coaching job. The others eventually got forced out or quit.
That won’t happen now, because the head coach won’t throw the keys to the offense to a coordinator while spending all of his time on the defense. That approach simply doesn’t work in today’s NFL. Although defense may eventually win championships, a team doesn’t get a chance to contend without a kick-ass offense.
But not the Brad Childress kind of kick-ass offense.
Frankly, there’s a good chance the Vikings went with two straight defensive head coaches (Zimmer and Leslie Frazier) because of their experiences with Childress, an offensive guru who (as explained in Playmakers) became one of the best examples of the NFL’s version of the Peter Principle from the past 20 years — and who helped squander the franchise’s best chance at a return to the Super Bowl since 1976 by sending 12 players to the huddle after a timeout.
Plenty of coordinators can’t thrive when promoted to the next level up. The Vikings are betting that O’Connell will be able to get it done. For now, the fact that he’s designing an offense that features more than meatloaf and green beans is a major plus.