Viking Offense Likely To Experiment

Steve Loney will be charged with coaching the offensive line and coordinating the offense, a tall double-duty task, during the 2005 season. His college experience will help him, he says, but this year the offense won't have Randy Moss. Loney talked with Viking Update about the whole situation and said things could be in experimental mode during the preseason.

For now, Steve Loney remains the team's offensive line coach as well as offensive coordinator. He expects that to stay the same even if there was an ownership change. In other words, if Red McCombs sells the team, Loney doesn't expect a line coach to be hired even if the new owner is willing to spend more.

"I fully expect this to stay the same," Loney said. "In my coordinating days, I've always been the line coach and the coordinator. Now I know that's college, but still, the thing it'll require from me is that I'll have to be very organized and strong in my leadership so I make the other assistants on offense fully aware what my expectations are."

For those not keeping score at home, receivers coach Charlie Baggett flew south with Linehan to Miami. The Vikings replaced Baggett with Wes Chandler. Because Linehan double-dipped as the quarterbacks coach, the Vikings replaced him with Rich Olson.

"I have to be able to trust Rich Olson and Wes Chandler," Loney said. "I have to be able to trust that they will get it done the way we want it done. We're very fortunate getting Rich. Wes brings an experience and a knowledge of the position that these guys will benefit from."

Loney said he is uncertain whether he will call the game from the booth or from the sidelines. In fact, the Vikings might experiment with both during the preseason.

"We really haven't even talked about that yet," Loney said. "I've called it from both places in my career. That probably is the trickiest thing of all. It's the biggest question mark. As an offensive line coach, on the field is where you need to be. I could see a scenario where we went through a preseason game one way, then try it the other way in the next game to see which way we feel most comfortable."


Loney inherits an offensive system that has been one of the most prolific units in the NFL for nearly a decade. But it is an offensive arsenal that over the offseason lost its most explosive weapon. By dealing Randy Moss to Oakland, the Vikings lost their biggest scoring threat — 9,142 yards and 90 touchdowns over seven seasons.

Despite dispatching one of the league's biggest game breakers, the Vikings think their offensive machine can still run at full force.

"In the past, it's been a system to complement what Randy had brought to our offense," Loney said. "Now it's going to be an offense that's going to grow and excel on its own."

The sex appeal, though, might be reduced. While Loney hopes the Vikings can strike fear into opposing defenses with a home run threat, the offense might become slightly more conservative and time-consuming. It is a philosophy employed by the New England Patriots, winners of three of the last four Super Bowls.

Not surprisingly, considering the NFL is a copycat league, teams will try to emulate the Patriots' system of filling its roster with suitable parts rather than superstars. Not only is it fiscally responsible, it also helps team chemistry.

"Team is the key. We have to be a better football team," head coach Mike Tice said. "We feel like being No. 1 in offense, although it may make for more standing and cheering at the Metrodome, doesn't necessarily help us win the world championship.

"We've had 556 points, No. 1 in offense, No. 1 in rushing offense, No. 2 in offense, No. 3 in offense … we haven't gotten to the Super Bowl yet."

While Loney concedes the offense will be tweaked, he shirks off talk of a toned-down offense sans Moss.

"I think just to John Q. Public who is watching our offense, you won't see radical changes. It's a system that's been in place and it's been successful," Loney said. "When you look at our offense, when we weren't at full force last year, you didn't see huge differences.

"I don't think people should expect big changes. What we have to do, though, in the spring practices and summer developmental camps is to get as good of a feel as to what everybody's strengths are and make sure we feature those."

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