Vikings offense moves toward becoming far less predictable

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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.

23 responses to “Vikings offense moves toward becoming far less predictable

  1. When I read the headline that it would be less predictable, my first thought was that they had gotten rid of Kirk Cousins.

  2. How unpredictable can it be if your O line sucks? It’s gotta improve this year.

  3. When they go 6-11, I wonder what the excuse is going to be then since Zimmer is gone.

  4. It’ll still be predictable with Cousins. He will put up some gaudy HOF numbers, but throw completely inexplicable INTs come crunch time, not to mention his propensity to no-show in 2-3 divisional games that make a difference between playoffs and not.

  5. I see great things ahead. If everything goes well, 9-8 seasons as far as the eye can see.

  6. Why the change?
    This team was only 19 plays away from being in the postseason last year.
    Or, at least that’s how I’ve heard it.
    Over and over again. 🤣

  7. Despite the usual unsuccessful attempts at hilarity in the comments, this is an important facet to the new coaching staff the Vikings have assembled – besides the well-publicized moves to change the overall culture, the staff is making strides implementing new plays and formations that will make them “very less predictable” and hopefully take advantage of players’ untapped skill sets. I think this is going to improve Cousins as his confidence grows and he feels as if the coaches are behind him whether he throws a pick or a TD.

  8. 8-9 wins with MAYBE 1 playoff win as long as Cousins is the QB. This guy has had more excuses why he cant win big games than anyone I’ve ever known. It’s always something, its the offensive line its the defense not making stops, its the coach. Maybe he’s just the 15th best QB in the league. Not bad but not great but moments of both which when you mix it all together you’re an 8-9 win team.

    -Signed life long Vikings fan.

  9. There are still some very successful defensive-minded HCs in the NFL right now, but I’d tend to agree that it’s not the best way to build a team because you’re stacking the deck against yourself a little bit from the outset.

    With the rules skewed so much toward offense now, there’s only so far you can get with defense alone unless it’s transcendent like the Denver defense that carried the ghost of Peyton Manning to a championship after Brock Osweiler went 5-2.

    Otherwise, you get the problem where every time you have a coordinator who’s good enough to lead your offense well enough to contend, he’s getting sniped in the offseason.

    Still, Belichick has done OK for himself. John Harbaugh (D/ST) has a really interesting model where he seems to shop around for coordinators who fit the personnel he has at the time. Caldwell was the guy for Flacco; Roman is the guy for Jackson. Staley has a unique background and is an analytics-minded guy. It can work.

  10. 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.

    Kevin Stefanski got a head coaching job.

  11. 2009 was the last year that it wasn’t extremely frustrating to watch the Vikings’ offense. That was because of Favre’s improvising more than the offensive system. For years after that, there was a dearth of talent and it was just watching Adrian Peterson run into the backs of the offensive linemen until he finally broke a 70-yard run. Then when they got some great wide receivers, they had success but never as much as there should have been. Way too many three-and-outs because of insipid play calling. I don’t want to put too much pressure on O’Connell but there should be a big step forward this year because they brought the whole team back under the expectation that coaching will make a huge difference.

  12. Every offense becomes predictable if it doesn’t innovate and evolve. Shurmer, Gary Kubiak and Stefanski ran decent offenses to the extent they could under Zim — with Shurmer and Stefanski successful enough to land head coaching gigs. And everyone wanted to and still does incorporate or copy Kubiaks’s scheme. Under those circumstances its hard to argue that those past offenses were too predictable other than the fact that last year son Clint did nothing to evolve the offense (or wasn’t allowed to by Zim). At any rate, a new offensive scheme by its nature will be less predictable at the outset — we’ll see if that lasts the entire season.

  13. Well, let’s face it, they have been predictable. II look forward to being surprised, but I’m not holding my breath yet.

  14. The Vikings sure do seem to be winning the offseason championship of good feelings. That happens when your brand new coaching staff is undefeated.

  15. Blame the defensive-minded head coaches all you want for the team’s lack of failures over the last 6-8 years. They weren’t really that good except one year, but the offense has always been so middling that they couldn’t give the team a chance to win on a regular basis any more than the defense did.

  16. I can’t wait until that 1st game of the season. The Vikes newer offense vs the Diva and his unpracticed WRs. Go Vikes.

  17. Diva and the unpracticed WRs will still beat our Vikings, unfortunately.

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