Notebook: Offense still finding stride?

The Vikings offense went three-and-out on half of its drives Thursday night against the Saints and a lack of preseason continuity is the main culprit. Plus, how much is reality and how much perception on the lack of Adrian Peterson in the second half?

Last year's explosive Vikings offense never found the fuse in the 2010 regular-season opener, but there wasn't much panic running through the assessment of Brad Childress after he got a look at the film from Thursday night's 14-9 loss in the Louisiana Superdome.

"There is no way we are up to the warp speed of an 18th game of the season with all those reps involving all those guys," Childress said. "You guys (reporters) have kind of laughed about the work in progress or in flux. It's a work in progress on offense and it's from a number of different spots, whether it's just getting your center (John Sullivan) back or your wideouts or your quarterback. We need to get up to speed in a heck of a hurry and I believe we will, but that didn't approximate where we were at the end of last year."

The Vikings averaged 379.6 yards per game during the 2009 regular season. On Thursday, they gained only 253 yards against the Saints after putting up 475 yards against them on Jan. 24. Even so, the Vikings were never out of it against the defending Super Bowl champions, who were limited to 308 yards themselves.

The Vikings gave up touchdowns on the first drives of each half, but the most they fell behind was 7-0 and they had a 9-7 lead at halftime.

"I thought we hung in there in the first half and told the guys at halftime it was just about the way if you had to draw it up that you'd plan it: hold the ball for 17 minutes in the first half," Childress said. "The yards were tough to come by and we kept an explosive offense off the field. And then in the second half we had our opportunities." A start-and-stop offense was evidenced in the drive chart. Half of the Vikings' 10 drives went three-and-out, another one went four-and-out and by far their most extensive drive – which went 16 plays and took up much of the second quarter – ended with a field goal. Besides that 16-play drive, no other Minnesota series saw more than six plays.

The Vikings didn't have much continuity to get their offense straightened out this preseason. QB Brett Favre didn't show up until Aug. 17. Sidney Rice never did practice and eventually had hip surgery and won't be available until at least late October. Percy Harvin missed all but the first two days of training camp and didn't play until the third preseason game because of migraine headaches and the death of his grandmother. And Greg Camarillo was acquired via trade with one full practice to go before the third preseason game.

In addition to all the changes in the receiving corps, center John Sullivan didn't play at all during the preseason because of a calf injury.

All of that uncertainty came home to roost when the Saints defense held each of the wide receivers to only one catch. One play exemplified the progress that needs to be made, according to Childress.

"Pretty much a basic tenant of our offense, and I thought Brett made a good throw on this, and I thought Percy pulled up running across the football field," Childress said. "It's called a basic cross. (Harvin) beat his guy and he kind of lulled and settled as opposed to running through the throw. So you could say – which always kills a coach when you say – 'Not on the same page.' We're on the same page, we understand that. It's just a matter of continuing to run and not lulling it."

Now the Vikings have been lulled into a 0-1 record after managing only nine points, something that will have to change if the fireworks are going to return in 2010.

ALL DAY ALL GAME?

There has been considerable discussion about the lack of Adrian Peterson in the second half of Thursday's game. Peterson gained 57 yards on 13 carries in the first half, but had only six carries for 30 yards in the second half.

"Just kind of got behind the 8-ball a little bit in terms of the down and distance when you're looking at normal down and distance," Childress said of the lack of Peterson runs in the second half. "I know once we ran it for 6 yards and weren't able to get a first down on the next two downs. It's just we weren't able to go back and continue to lean on the run and be patient enough with the run because when you're three-and-out you're typically behind on down and distance."

Three of the Vikings' five three-and-out drives came in the second half, and they ran only 19 plays in the second half compared to 33 in the first half.

Peterson carried the ball on 39.3 percent of the Vikings' first-half plays and 31.6 percent of their second-half plays.

NOTES

  • Brett Favre drove to Mississippi after the game and will attend the christening of his grandson, Parker Brett.

  • Players were getting in a lift and a run either Friday or Saturday and have Sunday off. They return for the start of a normal (by NFL standards) work week Monday.

  • Despite Percy Harvin telling NBC sleep apnea has been pinpointed as "the main issue triggering his migraines," Childress wasn't ready to make that strong of a statement. "I don't know enough about it to talk about that. He had a lotta, lotta tests and that may have been one of the factors, but I'm not enough of a neurologist to know that that's specifically it," Childress said. "If he never has another one, maybe I'd say that. But never and always are a long time, so check back with me in about 100 years."


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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