The Vikings’ passing offense has been the center of controversy and debate for the last several years. From the time Brett Favre got hurt in 2010, there has been a revolving door at quarterback for the Vikings.
Tarvaris Jackson took Favre’s place, but knew his Vikings career was over when the team gave Christian Ponder his number. Donovan McNabb was supposed to be the answer in 2011, but he flamed out. In 2013, Ponder was anointed the starter, only to lose his job to Matt Cassel. Cassel entered training camp last year as the unquestioned starter, but that ended in Week 2 due to injury.
The team appears headed in the right direction with Teddy Bridgewater, who looks to end a five-year funk of lacking productivity from the passing game and, as fans saw last December, when allowed to cut loose, the Vikings’ pass offense can be formidable.
One player who has witnessed all the quarterback changes has been Jarius Wright, who has developed into a consistent receiver and was one of Bridgewater’s favorite targets when he took over as the starter.
While impressed with Bridgewater late in the season, Wright believes the biggest improvement to the 2015 Vikings passing game may well be the return of the game’s pre-eminent running back – Adrian Peterson.
“Just having Adrian back – not that we didn’t having threats back there last year – but having Adrian back changes everything,” Wright said. “Defenses have to pay a lot of attention to him and that can open things up for a lot of other players in the passing game. It’s going to open up our offense a lot more – even more than we were able to do last year.”
Wright’s contribution to the offense has steadily increased during his first three seasons in terms of both receptions (22-26-42) and yardage (310-434-588) and he is entering his contract year with a lot of upward momentum that he hopes to carry into 2015.
While he doesn’t dwell on the contract, he does see this season as a stepping stone to long-term financial security and a long NFL career.
“I try not to look at it in terms of being a contract year, but, at the same time, I know that it is,” Wright said. “My goal has been to try to contribute more each season as I go along. I was better my second year than my rookie year and I think I was better last year than I was my second year. I just want to win and I want to give everything I have each and every Sunday.”
One thing last year taught a lot of fans is that, while a bit undersized by NFL receiver standards, Wright isn’t exclusively a slot receiver. He can play outside and get physical with corners, but he understands the perception and, if that is what it takes to get a new contract with the Vikings (or perhaps for someone else willing to pay more if he hits the free agent market), he’s ready to be the consummate role player.
“I’m a smaller guy and people think that I’m a slot guy,” Wright said. “That’s all right. But I know I can do a lot of different things and play all the different receiver positions. I just want to give what I can to help the team win. If it ends up they want me to just be a slot guy, I’ll be the best slot guy I can be.”