After a pair of huge running weeks from Adrian Peterson and an offense that dictated both the pace and tempo of the two home wins the Minnesota Vikings have strung together, there is a lot of reason for optimism that the team can not only win games with a dominating defense, but that, in games where the defense struggles, the Vikings have enough offense to compensate for it.
The most dangerous part of that equation is that there is plenty of the Vikings offense that nobody outside of Winter Park has seen yet.
Last week, wide receiver Mike Wallace said the only about 25 percent of the Vikings has been installed and implemented, leaving a lot of surprises for opponents looking for tendencies on game film.
Asked how much that has changed from last week, apparently it wasn’t too much.
“You could probably put 2 more percent in there,” Wallace said. “That would be 27 percent. We still have 73 more percent. We still have a ways to go. We didn’t do too many different things last week. We did a good job running the ball.”
Last year, the Vikings had to pull out their playbook early and often without Adrian Peterson and, a month into the season, they had pretty much fired their guns. There wasn’t much left that hadn’t been “put on tape.” With Peterson looking like the Peterson fans remembered before he was gone from the team, the result so far has been going more old-school than exotic, keeping a lot of plays that have been practiced many times in their pocket.
“We have a guy like that and he’s playing like he’s playing, people are always going to come up (in the box),” Wallace said. “We’re always going to get opportunities. We just have to make the most of them when we do take them.”
With an aggressive defense like the Broncos have presented to date, the Vikings may have to get a little unconventional to make a dent and keep them honest.
Apparently there a lot of bullets still left in the clip and the Vikings are being judicious about firing them.
“We still have a lot of things in the fold,” Wallace said. “Hopefully we can get to them in the near future. When you have a guy running the way he’s running, you keep running.”
The difference that Peterson has provided forces defenses to commit more attention to the running game. The basic premise of playing defense is stopping the run. Ask anyone on that side of the ball. They will tell you. Again and again and again.
When you can’t stop the run, you have a problem (see San Francisco game tape). When you can keep your bank in reserve because what you’ve been showing hasn’t been stopped yet (see Miami vs. New England “Wildcat” introductory tape), everything has a time and a place to be unveiled. Peterson has been a preventative measure to giving other teams “a tell” of potential big plays you love.
“Any time when you don’t try to put too much of your playbook in and you have two successful games, it’s always encouraging,” Wallace said. “That’s a good thing, because we haven’t even opened it up too much yet. If you ever do some of the things you want to do but haven’t – the different things you’ve seen in practice – that’s always encouraging.”
The stealthy nature of the NFL holds unseen looks as currency – much like a Day 3 draft pick next year is worthy compensation for a vested veteran. Is holding plays that have been practiced but not executed a weapon that can be a difference-maker?
“I would think so,” Wallace said. “When you still have a lot that you haven’t shown – I think most teams have shown 60, 70 percent. Like I said, we’ve probably shown 30, 35 percent. We still have more of the playbook to bring out there. That’s a good thing. We still have the element of surprise.”
From the sounds of things from the defensive-minded, Minnesota-Denver may be a 16-13 overtime affair. If the Vikings offense has anything to say about it, Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and what passes for a running game are put on notice. You may need more than 16 points to beat the Vikings. You haven’t their offensive hold cards yet.