Not all of the secrets of Bill Musgrave's offense are out yet. It will have some roots from the West Coast offense he learned as a player and coach, but it will also have elements from other coaches and schemes that have influenced him along the way.
But no matter how plays are drawn up on paper, one of the interesting elements will be how much responsibility and flexibility he gives to his players, especially the young crop of skill-position players who could be led by rookie quarterback Christian Ponder or second-year player Joe Webb.
Last year, under Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell, veteran quarterback Brett Favre nearly did it all, including setting some of the protections for the offensive linemen. So how about this year with Musgrave as the coordinator, a new scheme and new position coaches for the offensive linemen and quarterbacks?
"I think a number of guys on our offense will have responsibilities in that department," Musgrave said of setting protections. "The quarterback will be one. The center, the running backs, the tight ends, the wide receivers will be responsible for knowing protections as well and certain protections that we carry. The quarterback is definitely involved heavily in that department."
But with an offseason that has lacked the standard rookie and veteran minicamps, as well as an additional minicamp that new head coaches are given, and the 14 organized team activities, players haven't had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the new protocol and offensive concepts.
Ponder and Webb have spent considerable time at the IMG Madden Football Academy the last six weeks learning the playbook from former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke, and Webb believes there will be less responsibility on the quarterbacks in this offense.
"You could say that, but at the end of the day, you would still have to memorize it," he said. "You say one word and that's a concept where you have to remember what every person on the field is supposed to do. It still takes a lot of studying. Even though there is not much verbiage going on, you still have to be in that playbook."
Receivers Emmanuel Arceneaux and Greg Camarillo and tight ends Visanthe Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolph have also spent time at IMG, but they, too, will need to become familiar with what freedoms they will have in Musgrave's offense.
"We definitely want us to be on the same page as often as possible, if not exclusively. We have certain routes in our system that are locked and we have certain routes in our system that convert versus coverage," Musgrave said. "There are other routes, like you said, that have two, three, sometimes four different options. Depending on that route, we want those guys to be in sync, that's for sure."
Unfortunately for the Vikings, the lockout could affect them more than any other team because of all the changes that will take place since the final game of the 2010 season. Favre is no longer a factor and the receiving corps could have a different look, as well, if Sidney Rice isn't retained during free agency. There are still playmakers with Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Shiancoe and the addition of rookie Rudolph. But, despite having worked with the playbook for more than a month, for Webb the differences still aren't completely apparent. He can know all the plays, but he hasn't been able to get a first-hand impression for Musgrave's way of thinking.
"It depends on how the coaches are going to use us. I guess whenever we get into camp, whenever that is, they'll see the different skill sets that are there," Webb said. "Of course, you know that guys like Percy – you know what Percy can do. You know what Adrian Peterson can do. The coaches, some of them are familiar with what players will do. But you have the free-agent guys [still to sign], the drafted guys, guys that they picked from the Canada league, they want to be able to see what you can do before you can really say if this is going to be a running team, a passing team or things like that."
With the lack of exposure to the new coaches, even the players aren't yet sure exactly how the offense will look or just how much freedom they will have in playcalling, setting protections and running routes. It's just one more element where the lockout is holding back purple progress.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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