When Brad Childress became head coach in 2006, he favored a heavy dose of the running game. With Brett Favre struggling and Adrian Peterson playing well, the Vikings might be returning to a run-first, run-often team.
The success the Vikings had in their passing game last season led many to believe a repeat performance would be in store. So far that hasn't been the case.
Whether it's due to Sidney Rice
's absence, Brett Favre
's aging, Bernard Berrian
's inability to become an elite wide receiver or a combination of these factors, the Vikings' aerial attack has been missing for the first three games of 2010.
That means Minnesota has ended up relying on Adrian Peterson
and the run game. The funny thing about that is that is exactly what many people expected the Viking would do in 2009 after Favre joined the team.
Favre, who was then approaching his 40th birthday, was expected to be a game manager, forcing teams to respect the pass while the Vikings still relied upon Peterson.
But, as has been well-documented, that plan changed in a big way when Favre began to put together a Pro Bowl season. His 33 touchdown passes and seven interceptions (a career low) made it foolish for the Vikings not to go to the air.
Favre has looked his age for much of this season and entered this week's bye with six interceptions and only two touchdown passes. (Rice, by the way, probably will miss at least half the season after having hip surgery.)
Peterson, meanwhile, is second in the NFL with 392 yards on 70 carries and rushed for 160 yards on 23 attempts and two touchdowns in the Vikings' 24-10 victory over the Detroit Lions. That gave the Vikings their first victory after losses to New Orleans and Miami.
"That's fine," Vikings Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson
said when asked about the potential of having an offense that relies upon its ground game. "When you have a 41-year-old quarterback you want him to ... it's kind of cliche, but (to) be a game manager. I think it takes a lot of pressure off the receivers and the quarterback if we can move the ball, move the chains with the run game.
"Ideally when you draw it up you want to control the clock, control the line of scrimmage, be able to run the ball and then mix in the passing game. Then when the defense starts to over-commit and play for the run, that's when you take your shots down the field."
Vikings coach Brad Childress certainly would like to see the passing game get on track — it's currently ranked 24th in the NFL — but he has little problem with having the run game take center stage.
"You always want to be able to run the football," Childress said. "I'm glad we're able to establish these things in the running game, and I would think generally that the pass game is the last thing to catch up and get up to speed.
"Typically that's the way it is. Brett said to you guys a while ago, it will be a work in progress all year long, and it usually is. At some point the run game will be a work in progress; I'm sure we'll have to battle through some things."
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 — Touchdown passes Brett Favre needs to throw to make him the first player to reach 500.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You've got to deal with it. I don't think ultimately we'd love to have the bye right now. But the way the schedule's set, we're going to deal with it, we're going to get away and there's always guys a little bit banged up who could use a little time off." — LB Ben Leber
on the Vikings having a bye after only three games.
Vikings coach Brad Childress and his staff will spend the early part of the week doing a self-scout of the first three games before taking a break. Last season, the Vikings had their bye week after eight games, meaning there was far more to look at for the staff.
The Vikings will play three of their four games in October on the road after returning from their bye week. That will include games at the Jets (Oct. 11), Green Bay (Oct. 24) and New England (Oct. 31). The only home game for Minnesota will be Oct. 17 against Dallas.
The Vikings have a sellout streak of 130 games at Mall of America Field at the Metrodome. The streak dates to the beginning of the 1998 season.
Childress is now 9-1 against Detroit since taking over in 2006. His only loss came in 2007 at Ford Field when the Lions beat the Vikings, 20-17, in overtime.
QB Brett Favre has thrown for 69,926, putting him 74 shy of becoming the first player to reach 70,000.
CB Antoine Winfield's interception on Sunday tied his total for last season. Winfield missed six games last year because of a broken foot.
Rookie RB Toby Gerhart committed a fourth-quarter fumble against the Lions that resulted in a turnover. Gerhart said he was kicking himself "a ton" for that mistake. "That's a huge point in the game," he said. "It puts a lot of pressure on the defense and it takes points off the board for the offense and makes it a three-score game instead of a two-score game. You want to go out there and make good impressions. That's the worst thing you can do."
RB Adrian Peterson on how much he pays attention to the statistics of other running backs, such as Tennessee's Chris Johnson: "I don't go around checking stats on other guys, but of course when I'm at home I watch the network and those sports channels and I see it come across. I just focus on making sure when I'm out there and I'm called upon (that I'm) taking advantage and being productive. When I do that I'll keep myself ahead and in the hunt."
TE Visanthe Shiancoe suffered what appeared to be a strained right hamstring against the Lions last Sunday. He is spending the week at Winter Park getting treatment.
C John Sullivan suffered an injury to his left calf but it's not yet known if he will miss any time. Sullivan also was expected to remain in town to get treatment.
C Ryan Cook replaced Sullivan and played well enough that the Vikings likely would feel comfortable leaving him at that position if Sullivan remains out. Cook was a center coming out of New Mexico — he was picked by the Vikings in the second round in 2006 — but he hadn't played that position in the NFL until Sunday.
Rookie guard Chris DeGeare, a fifth-round pick last April, was active for the first time this season against the Lions but did not get into the game.