The Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both run a version of the Tampa-2 defense, but their philosophies were far different in their respective season openers.
"There are some nuances that are quite different that we are trying to get a feel for this week so we can be effective on Sunday," Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. "The configuration may be similar, but there are definitely some differences."
One of the most obvious one from the Bucs' game against the Detroit Lions and the Vikings' game against the San Diego Chargers was the aggressiveness of the defensive coordinators. Minnesota coordinator Fred Pagac obviously felt a need to hurry Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers any way he could.
The result? The Vikings blitzed on 42 percent of the Bucs' passing attempts. There were zone blitzes. There were man blitzes, one of which produced an interception for defensive end Jared Allen when he dropped to cover running back Ryan Mathews. The Vikings even sent as many as eight defenders after Rivers on a fourth-and-20 situation.
"Obviously you have to change up your calls. You can't play Tampa-2 every snap. You have to play some Cover-1, you have to play some Cover-9, you have to play some 3 auto, some 2 man. You have to change calls up," Pagac said. "It can't be the same diet in the NFL every snap and when you look back at it, the plays that we got hurt on, it wasn't always Cover-2. Again, we just have to play better defensively. Our job is to get off of the field. Our job is to shut them out and go from there."
Rivers ended up with 335 yards, becoming one of 14 NFL quarterbacks to surpass 300 yards in Week 1.
The Bucs took a completely different tactic against the Lions. Tampa Bay blitzed Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford only four times – an underwhelming 12 percent – yet Stafford had similar results against them as Rivers did against the Vikings. The Detroit quarterback completed 24 of 33 attempts for 305 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Receiver Mike Williams said the Bucs are well aware of how the Vikings approached the Chargers and have been preparing for the possibilities.
"Of course we watched the Chargers game. We watched film and saw how that game goes," Williams said. "We'll try to duplicate what they did and get a win, try to do what those guys did and get a win.
Another low-water mark for Donovan McNabb's career: Besides the 39 yards passing being the lowest number of his career in games he has played the full contest, it is also the first time since his very first NFL start – spanning 154 games – that he has started a game and not completed a pass longer than 12 yards, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Of course, McNabb's downer performance came on a weekend when passing records were set. Besides 14 quarterbacks throwing for 300 yards or more, the 89 touchdowns in Week 1 were the sixth-most in a single week in NFL history and tied for the most on opening weekend (2002).
The 752 points scored tied for the ninth in a single week of NFL history and the second-most on kickoff weekend (there were 788 points in Week 1, 2002).
NFL Management Council calculated average expected NFL career length using statistics from its prior study on career expectancy for players entering the league between 1993 and 2002. One-hundred-twenty of the drafted players and 39 undrafted players entering the league during that time period earned spots on 2011 Kickoff Weekend rosters.
The average current experience listed on 2011 opening-day rosters is 4.3 years. However, that number does not represent average expected career length.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.