Advance Notice Helps Preparation

Dennis Green had a choice to make this offseason — sign a veteran backup quarterback like he usually does or give Todd Bouman the second-string job. His confidence in Bouman was rewarded Sunday.

There are times when a turning point doesn't necessarily have to even come on game day. In the case of Sunday's win over the Titans, the turning point came twice — once last spring and once the Friday before the Titans game.

The first moment came following the 2000 season. Several veteran quarterbacks were available on the free agent market for near-minimum salaries — players like Steve Beuerlein and Trent Dilfer. Both players were available up until training camp, but Vikings coach Dennis Green didn't make a move to get either of them — showing confidence in Todd Bouman.

During his career, Green insisted on having a veteran backup. He brought in Randall Cunningham, Jeff George and Bubby Brister to handle those duties. However, as the 2001 season approached, he refused to bring in another quarterback, saying he had confidence in Bouman to get the job done if needed.

The confidence manifested itself the Friday before the Titans game. It was clear Daunte Culpepper wasn't sufficiently healed to start. While Green kept the media and the Titans guessing as to whom his starter would be, he made it clear to the team and to Bouman that he would be his starter.

By letting Bouman know well in advance that he would be in charge of the offense, it gave him the time to settle into the role and take what could have been some question marks out of the way. If there was any nervousness or butterflies for Bouman, Green wanted to get them out of the way Saturday and have him ready for battle Sunday.

The strategy worked. After a slow start, Bouman's confidence grew steadily. In the final three quarters, he completed 20 of 28 passes for 344 yards and four touchdowns, showing the field generalship that comes with being as familiar with the Vikings offense as any player on the team.

Green used the same tactic with Brad Johnson, who, like Bouman, spent years on the sidelines before getting his opportunity. Like Johnson, Bouman stepped in and was successful. Using his past experience with a similar situation, Green made all the right moves to get his young quarterback prepared for Sunday's game and provided the turning point of the game in the process. VU

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