Coaches Q&A, Part II: Off. Asst. Jerry Rhome

Jerry Rhome, the Vikings offensive assistant/passing game coach, talks about the the offense under Brad Johnson, whether offenses need a No. 1 running back or wide receiver, and the effect the season is having on Mike Tice.

Jerry Rhome just joined the Vikings a couple of weeks ago as an offensive consultant.

Rhome is one of the most accomplished and prolific passers in the history of college football. Named to almost every All-American team and Collegiate Player of the Year by several polls, Rhome began his collegiate career as quarterback at Southern Methodist University in 1961, leading the Southwestern Conference in passing and total offense. Rhome then transferred for his last two seasons to Tulsa University.

At TU, Rhome made shambles of NCAA passing and total offense records, breaking 18 of them. He threw for a career 4,779 yards and 42 touchdowns. In 1964, after passing for 2,870 yards and 32 touchdowns he was a Heisman Trophy runner-up to Notre Dame quarterback John Huarte.

Drafted by both the New York Jets in the American Football League and the Dallas Cowboys, then the expansion franchise of the National Football League, Rhome signed with the Cowboys. He played on two championship teams with Dallas and participated in the famous "Ice Bowl," against Green Bay in 1967.

He later played for the Cleveland Browns, Houston Oilers and Los Angeles Rams before his career was cut short by a rotator cuff injury.

Rhome returned to Tulsa in 1973 as the Hurricane's offensive coordinator and receivers coach, developing talents like Steve Largent, who went on to become one of the NFL's all-time great receivers.

In 1976, he moved his coaching abilities to the NFL, where he would spend 24 years developing the likes of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Troy Aikman of Dallas, Kurt Warner of St. Louis and Minnesota's Cris Carter, the NFL's all-time leading receiver.

Rhome was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Texas High School Hall of Fame in 2001.

Q: What different attributes does Brad Johnson bring to the offense?

Brad is a very good rhythm passer. He's very intelligent. He's excellent at seeing things that are going on in the defense. He's very good at making adjustments.

Q: Given Brad is less mobile than Daunte Culpepper, might we see a lot more shorter routes by the receivers?

Not necessarily. Culpepper enjoyed throwing a lot of three-step drop passes. I think any quarterback likes to mix it up, and I think you'll see Brad throw the ball down the field and I think you'll see him throw intermediate routes and I think you'll see him throw quick passes. I don't think any of that will change.

Q: Obviously he will be having surgery and on crutches for a while, but will Daunte have a role during games later this season?

That's something I can't answer. That will be up to Coach Tice.

Q: Might it make sense to move Nate Burleson back to the slot, given the success he's had there in recent years?

I don't know that much about Nate from the past years. I'm very impressed with the receivers. They all work hard and they all have their talents and move around and play a lot of different positions. I hope to see a lot more of Nate now that he's getting well.

Q: Does an offense need a No. 1 receiver?

Not necessarily. One of the greatest things about New England is in the past they've been so well balanced. They don't have necessarily one go-to guy. As a result, five or six guys are getting the ball and that's pretty tough to defend.

Q: How about the same question regarding a No. 1 running back, a feature back that would get 25 carries a game?

We lost a back from last year who's an excellent player (Onterrio Smith) and hopefully his life will get straightened out. I think the backs we have are all contributing and they all have their talents. So who knows? Hopefully they'll emerge in that position.

Q: Is it a talent issue or a mental issue on the offensive line? In other words, do the linemen simply need more reps together and, in some cases, more experience?

I'm not the line coach. I know that there are some fresh faces in the line. At any level it takes time for any linemen to work together. In the old days you kept the same players a lot longer. I know when I was with the Redskins we had the "Hogs" and they were the same guys four years ago. That's not necessarily the case now.

Q: Everyone — players, coaches, media — cited the return of a healthy Jim Kleinsasser this season as a major boost for the offense. Why do you think that hasn't come to fruition?

I can't answer that question. I'm unfamiliar with that.

Q: Naturally this has been a demanding season on Mike. What have you noticed in his demeanor since you joined the team?

All I've seen is his strength. He's been very upbeat. The tougher things have gotten, the more positive and upbeat he's become. I don't see any weakness there.

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