Notebook: The "Spread-It-Around Offense"

The Vikings didn't have a problem celebrating the post-Moss era. Plus, get a couple dozen other game-day notes from the Vikings' preseason-opening win over Kansas City.

Randy who?

The Vikings made their debut performance in what, like it or not, is called the post-Moss era, and if Friday's 27-16 win over Kansas City is any indication the Vikings are going to use a lot of players to make up for the loss of Moss' sizeable production.

Daunte Culpepper threw just six passes in his cameo appearance, but threw all of them to different receivers. Backup Brad Johnson did the same – spreading the ball around and not forcing the issue. By the time the Vikings got to halftime, they had a 20-3 lead, and of the 14 completions Culpepper and Johnson combined to throw they went to 10 different receivers.

After the game, Culpepper said that the plan of attack for the Vikings is to get everyone involved and force defensive coordinators to worry about everyone – not just key on Moss.

"I don't like to be predictable," said Culpepper, who completed all five of his passes on the game's first drive as the Vikings built an early 7-0 lead. "In the past, a lot of the balls went to Randy. Now I don't know how defenses are going to prepare for us. We're going to use everybody and put the ball in everybody's hands. We're going to be unpredictable. That's what the best teams and the best quarterbacks do."

Coach Mike Tice praised the first-half performance, in which Culpepper and Johnson continually found the open receivers and read through their progressions when the primary target was covered – something both are adept at doing.

"They're both good at reading out," Tice told Viking Update. "There's no pressure for them to go to one person. Every play is designed to have a key guy, a second guy and even a third guy. Both of them have a good grasp of what we want to do."

While Friday's win may not have fans forgetting Moss, it let them know that there are still a lot of weapons in the Vikings arsenal and the team plans to use all of them at some point.


GAMEDAY NOTES
  • Tice said the best thing about Friday's win was that there were no injuries and he was able to stick to his plan of how long he would play the starters and key reserves.

    "If you go outside your plan and someone gets hurt, then you start cheating yourself," Tice said. "I stuck with the plan – I thought 12-15 plays for some, 15-20 plays for others and about 30 plays for the linemen. We were fortunate and blessed that nobody on the team got hurt."

    His point held water Friday, as the Bears, who pushed Rex Grossman into the second quarter of their game, lost him for three months or more with a broken leg.

  • Darren Sharper felt a little different in his home debut, saying, "I'm used to coming here and hearing boos. It's an adjustment. But it felt good to put on the purple. The fans embraced me and that felt great. I can see having a long and productive career here."

  • The Vikings special teams had their ups and downs Friday. Both Paul Edinger and Aaron Elling connected on field goals of 40 yards or more. But the team also was called for an illegal formation on a punt, had a punt fumbled by Keenan Howry (he recovered it) and had a fair catch by Siaha Burley that caused confusion for the players and officiating crew – all plays that were deemed completely unacceptable.

  • The vaunted Chiefs running game was on display in a big way early. In their first seven runs before being stuffed on the 1-yard line, Priest Holmes ran four times for 42 yards and Larry Johnson ran three times for 35 yards.

  • The Chiefs were considerably more short-handed than the Vikings Friday. Only four Vikings that were capable of playing – Troy Williamson, Fred Smoot, Dustin Fox and Richard Angulo – didn't suit up Friday. By contrast, 12 Chiefs didn't suit up, including starters or projected starters OG Will Shields, LBs Shawn Barber, Kendrell Bell and Mike Maslowski, WR Freddie Mitchell and DE Carlos Hall.

  • Chiefs rookie sensation Derrick Johnson got off to a shaky start. On the opening kickoff of his first NFL game, Johnson was penalized for a block below the waist.

  • Ciatrick Fason had a great start to his NFL career. On his first play from scrimmage, he took a handoff up the middle, bounced it outside and picked up 25 yards. Fason finished the game with 55 yards on seven carries and had an 18-yard run erased on a holding call away from the play.

  • The Chiefs were their own worst enemy early in the game. In the first quarter alone, the Chiefs committed five fouls – a pair of 15-yard personal fouls on kickoffs, two false starts by receivers and an intentional grounding on backup QB Todd Collins.

  • The Chiefs had plenty of reasons to be critical of themselves in the first half offensively. The Chiefs crossed midfield in four of the five drives in the first half – twice getting into the Red Zone, but came away with just three points.

  • The Vikings' passing offense was almost perfect in the first half. Daunte Culpepper completed five of six passes for 84 yards and a TD for a passer rating of 122.6. Not to be outdone, Brad Johnson completed nine of 12 passes for 84 yards and a TD for a passer rating of 158.3.

  • Rookie guard Marcus Johnson got to play two series in the first half with the first-unit offensive line, which included one of the team's two first-half touchdown drives.
  • Rookie Erasmus James made his first appearance with five minutes to play in the first half and saw considerable action in the second half – batting down a pass late in the game.

    "We knew that we were going to play him in nickel," Tice said. "What I didn't like is when I looked up and he was in base, so I took him out of base. I didn't feel he was ready to be in there in base, but we were going to put him in nickel, and that was our plan. We made that decision the day we gave him all that money; he was going to earn that money."

  • A couple of players who had rough outings included starting guard Chris Liwienski, who had a pair of false-start calls in brief duty. LB Heath Farwell didn't help his case to make the team – being called for ineligible man downfield on a punt the Vikings covered at the 11-yard line that was re-kicked and returned to the 34, as well as a holding call on a punt return by the Vikings that pinned them on the 9-yard line instead of being at their own 35-yard line.

  • The teams combined to commit 28 penalties – 14 for each team.

  • The Vikings didn't have any sacks against the Chiefs QBs and rarely knocked any of their quarterbacks to the ground.

  • Former Viking Chris Hovan made his Tampa Bay debut and put up some familiar numbers – no sacks, no tackles and no assists.

  • Friday's game was a full-circle moment for Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. His first coaching job was back in 1981 when he was a linebackers coach with the Chiefs.

  • Former Viking DeWayne Washington is trying to keep his career alive with the Chiefs. Washington, who played for the Vikings from 1994-97, is currently listed as third-string on the depth chart.

  • One of the pregame pleasantries exchanged was between Wes Chandler and Charlie Joiner. The two wide receivers were teammates in the "Air Coryell" days of the San Diego Chargers. Now they are wide receivers coaches for the Vikings and Chiefs.

  • Friday was the third time since 1998 that the Vikings have faced the Chiefs in the preseason. The Vikings hammered K.C. 34-0 in Randy Moss' first game in front of the Metrodome fans in 1998, but the Chiefs returned the favor in 2003 with a 26-16 win at Kansas City.

  • From the Name Game Department comes this: the Chiefs had a wide receiver named John W. Booth playing in the second half, but for conspiracy theorists, the "W" stands for William, not Wilkes.

  • The attendance at Friday's game was 63,621 – the 75th straight sellout for the Vikings.


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