Coaches: This Already Was Culpepper's Offense

Coaches contend that the loss of Randy Moss to the Oakland Raiders will show that the Vikings offense was already being driven admirably by quarterback Daunte Culpepper, not just taken along for the ride on Moss' back.

The loss of Randy Moss on the Minnesota Vikings offense could make it clear to everyone that Daunte Culpepper is the field general. This is Culpepper's offense. It's his ship to sail — sink or swim. It's unclear if that was always evident in the past.

With Culpepper in the prime of his career, that could mean good news for the Vikings. Culpepper's 2004 season would have been heralded nationwide had it not been for Peyton Manning's record-breaking year in Indianapolis. Because of that, Culpepper's season-long performance occasionally was overshadowed.

Don't forget, Culpepper threw for a career-high 4,717 yards and 39 touchdowns last season. His quarterback rating was 110.9. Just as impressive, Culpepper did this with no featured running back and a star receiver (Moss) who was either out with an injury or playing injured for more than half the season.

Even with Moss, though, this was Culpepper's offense, new coordinator Steve Loney says. This year Loney feels no need to turn over the reigns because they have always been in Culpepper's hands.

"I have contended all along that it was Daunte's offense and I think that's the attitude that Daunte took," Loney said. "If anybody thought differently, at least now those things are eliminated from anyone's thoughts. But over the last two years you have seen Daunte not just as a leader, but also as a guy who's just playing his position and really excelling at it. His last season speaks for itself, arguably the best in the league."

Head coach Mike Tice agrees. With Culpepper at quarterback the Vikings offense won't tail off that much without Moss, he says.

"In the five games where there was an injury to (Moss) last year, (Culpepper) carried our football team and we scored a lot of points," Tice said. "We had a lot of offense and we lost two games on last-second field goals. We have other weapons. We will not be a lesser offense. We will lose some plays — absolutely and positively — but we have some players on our roster that can play football. And I'm an offensive head coach and we're going to be good on offense, I'll promise you that."

Loney said he wasn't an active player in the Moss trade. The head coach and front office personnel, he says, made that decision.

"I was never privy to those trade discussions," Loney said. "I've always had the approach that my job is to coach the people our administration provides us in our room. My job is to coach them to the best of my ability and feature their strengths and lead them toward success."

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