For much of Sunday's game, Visanthe Shiancoe was all but invisible in the passing game. As Brett Favre was piling up yards, downfield passes were seemingly going to everyone else. Percy Harvin was getting his. Bernard Berrian was getting his. Greg Camarillo was getting involved. But no Shank.
Shiancoe didn't have a catch until 10 minutes remained in the fourth quarter. By the time the game was over, he had caught four passes for 66 yards and the game-tying touchdown. When the Vikings trailed by 14 points in the fourth quarter, the team reverted to a no-huddle, hurry-up offense. As it has done several times during the Favre era with the Vikings, success has followed when the Vikings pick up the tempo.
As a result, the thought has come to some outside observers – should the Vikings implement the no-huddle when it isn't a panic situation? Given their uncanny success when keeping defenses guessing on the fly and unable to huddle up to make the next defensive call or change defensive personnel, Shiancoe thinks it's a possibility. Seeing as he did a lot of the damage when the Vikings up-shifted the tempo, that came as no surprise.
"Man, that is something that can be incorporated into our offense," Shiancoe said. "I don't know what the coach has planned up, but, me personally, I like that quick no-huddle or speed-up two-minute offense."
He said the Vikings may have the ideal personnel to make such a move possible. With defenses spread out, they have to pick their poison on which element of the Vikings offense they want to focus on – stopping Favre or stopping Adrian Peterson. With two players of that magnitude, they can attack the aspect that is getting the least attention and excel.
"It keeps the defense on their heels and spreads them out," Shiancoe said. "If they don't respect us spreading them out, we'll just go over the top and hit them all day. When they spread out, it gives Adrian a chance to get loose because he's terrific in the open field."
What gives Shiancoe's offensive theory credence is that there is more than one type of no-huddle offense. One is the most commonplace – a team with no timeouts late in the game running from play to play and trying to conserve as much time as possible and get off as many snaps as quickly as they can execute them. The other, popularized by Peyton Manning and the Colts, is to come to line after a play without huddling up. Defenses can't make substitutions because the ball can technically be snapped at any time and the quarterback can assess the defense and make the calls based on the defense he sees.
Shiancoe made it clear that he is down with either approach. He likes the attacking style and hopes it will be incorporated – even if on a drive or two during Sunday's game.
"I love both of those (hurry-up styles)," Shiancoe said. "But, it's not offense. It doesn't matter what defense is out there to tell you the truth. Think about it. We can run the ball just as well as we pass the ball in those situations and predicaments. If they have some dime personnel in there – smaller guys in there – we're just going to pound them and out-physical them. If they have bigger guys, we're just going to throw past them. We have guys that are strong and fast. We can block one play and throw it over the top the next play. We have explosive guys out here – Percy, Sidney, Bernard, Adrian – name them all. Even Favre ran for a little somethin'-somethin' out there. Favre is pretty explosive."
He said the Vikings had success throwing against the Cardinals because they have huge safeties – "they were my size," he said – and they were sucking wind after a few plays, which helped open up larger seams down the middle of the field. Other teams may have smaller defenders, at which point A.D. becomes the focus.
One player who had been MIA for the first half of the season was Bernard Berrian. Overmatched as a No. 1 receiver to start the season, Favre threw much more to his running backs, tight ends and Harvin. Through seven games, Berrian had just nine catches. He had nine grabs for 89 yards on Sunday – doubling his reception and yardage totals in the eighth game of the season.
Shiancoe said what the fans saw Sunday was the Berrian he's used to and that, despite low numbers, he's the same player he was when he was the team's leading receiver with almost 1,000 yards in 2008.
"Berrian didn't go nowhere – he did not go anywhere," Shiancoe said. "That's the same Berrian that came in her in '08 and did his thing. It's the same Berrian. You guys just seen him a little more involved … in his yellow shoes."
Shiancoe was poking fun at the neon yellow shoes Berrian wore Sunday, which cost him $5,000 when the league fashion police slapped him with a financial hit that Shiancoe thought was a little too rich for his blood. When asked if he would wear the shoes, he said that the spirit is willing, but the wallet says "oh, hell no."
"I like the shoes, but I don't like the fine that comes with them," Shiancoe said.
While the Vikings are far from back into the playoff chase, they aren't lacking for confidence. If there is a bright side, three of their five losses have come against AFC teams, which don't count against them when it comes to potential playoff tie-breakers. With the Bears and the Packers (most players are instructed not to talk about future opponents, but don't always remember) coming in the next two weeks, a pair of Vikings victories could flip the NFC North on its head and put the Vikings right back into the thick of the competition.
Although he didn't make a Joe Namath-like guarantee of a victory, Shiancoe said the team firmly believes this is their time to shine and, although trailing both Chicago and Green Bay in the standings, they are simply the next in line for a loss.
"Every game is important from now on," Shiancoe said. "I think 80 or 90 percent of our games (in the second half) are NFC games. They all count and NFC games to us count as two. We've got Green Bay next week … well, we're not going to speak on that … we're just going to focus on Chicago for now. We're not going to lose those games, so don't worry about that."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Shiancoe endorses more no-huddle offense
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