The Gus Factor

Is it gameplanning by opposing defensive coordinators that has made the difference in the Vikings recent offensive success or is it the Frerotte Factor?

You could hear the rumblings of the Chicken Little types as early as halftime of the San Francisco game. It sounded something like this:

"Gus is running the offense so much more efficiently than Daunte."

"Oh, I agree. He can get the deep pass to Moss and has the team up at the line in time to make changes. He doesn't have to call time outs or throw the ball away as often."

That's how you get a QB controversy. The funny thing, is the same schpiel was said in St. Louis about Marc Bulger when he replaced Kurt Warner, in Pittsburgh when Tommy Maddox replaced Kordell Stewart and in Cleveland when Kelly Holcomb replaced Tim Couch.

The difference? Whether fans like it or not, Culpepper will regain his starting job when the Vikings return from the bye -- and rightfully so. But, there are still lingering questions. Each QB has played 10 quarters in helping the Vikings get to 5-0, but they've done it in very different ways.

In his 10 quarters of work, Culpepper has completed seven passes of 20 yards or more -- four of them to Moss -- but just one pass of more than 30 yards (a 51-yard game-opener vs. Chicago to Kelly Campbell.

In Frerotte's 10 quarters, he has completed 11 passes of 20 yards or more, five to Moss, three to Nate Burleson, two to Campbell and one to Onterrio Smith. But of those 11 completions, seven of them have been for more than 30 yards, five for more than 50 yards and two for more than 70 yards.

While Culpepper will be back in the lineup for the next game, expect to see the Vikings take a long look at what Frerotte was doing so well and see if defenses try the same tactic with Culpepper when he returns.

* In his two games as a starter, the Frerotte-led Vikings offense has scored 74 points.
* The Vikings are the only 5-0 team in the NFC and, perhaps more importantly, all five wins count in tie-breaker procedures in the NFC and three of them are division wins.
* After an awful first half rushing, the Vikings ran for 135 yards in the second half to finish with 166 yards for the game.
* Brian Russell recorded his league-leading fifth interception and the Vikings spiked their total to 13 picks -- just three short of the 16 the team had all of last year.
* Frerotte had a 102.6 QB rating Sunday, the second straight 100+ rating and keeping the Vikings as the top QB passers in that category.
* Doug "Sling" Johnson, the hapless Falcons QB who was booed lustily by his home fans said that he doesn't believe the Vikings are as good as everyone thinks -- going so far as to say the 1-4 Falcons are better. Is "Sling" short for "Sling Blade?" We reckon Doug will have him some of them french fried potaters, Uh-huh.
* Lewis Kelly replaced Dave Dixon in the third quarter and played well enough that he remained in the game the rest of the way. The Vikings are grooming Kelly to replace Dixon as early as next year.

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