The hiring of Brad Childress as the new coach of the Minnesota Vikings could mean a resurgence for at least one Viking.
Childress has been credited with the development of quarterback Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia.
"It's well deserved, and as sad as it is for me to know that he is leaving, I am very excited to see that he has an opportunity to fulfill a dream and get their program kick-started in the right direction," McNabb said of Childress leaving the Eagles.
However, the Childress way could mean even bigger things for Vikings running back Mewelde Moore than it does for quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Childress is also credited with being a coach who uses innovative formations that create matchup problems for defenses. Specifically, the Eagles like to sent running back Brian Westbrook out wide or in the slot on occasion.
"The most important thing is to see what kind of talent these guys possess," Childress said when asked about using Moore in that situation. "In the Brian Westbrook case, you have to have a guy you can extend and he can drive out there – somebody that really, truly is a mismatch, not just a body out there. There's an old saying: ‘Don't cover the decoys.' If the guy's out there and he isn't really a threat, it makes no difference.
"I think it's important that we get up to speed and all our coaches understand that you don't ask a guy to do something he can't do. For me to use somebody like Brian Westbrook that can't do the things that Brian Westbrook can would be a disservice. I'm looking forward to seeing exactly what each one of these guys brings to the table."
Childress already knows more about Moore than might be expected. Upon first meeting the running back, Childress started explaining to Moore how he knew all about how he was used in Tulane in becoming only the second running back in NCAA history to garner 4,000 yards rushing and 2,000 receiving. He also ranked 11th in Division I history for all-purpose yards with 6,505.
"I know he's been watching film and he understands a lot of things," Moore said after talking briefly with Childress for the first time. "I think the biggest thing is he watched film of me in college and he understands that West Coast offense is something that got me here, being able to get in different offensive formations and just being able to perform and play.
"The free ball, that's where I get a chance to allow myself to play even freer than what I've been allowing myself to play. He's a good coach, just seeing how Westbrook has played and performed in his offense. I definitely understand the concepts of it."
Moore finished as the Vikings' leading rusher in 2005 with 662 yards on 155 carries nd third-leading receiver with 37 catches for 339 yards. In Philadelphia, Westbrook was the Eagles' leading receiver with 617 yards on 156 carries but tied for first with 61 receptions and 616 yards.
Moore doesn't figure switching offenses will be a problem for him. He said he picked up the Vikings offense in three days of minicamp as a rookie in 2004. Still, Moore would like to keep an open mind about how he can be used, and he lacks no confidence in his abilities.
"I'm a do-all back, a back who can pound it, run with power or run with finesse, run with strength and run and make guys miss. The West Coast offense gives you the opportunity to do all those things. There are times you're going to be able to do the power thing and there are times where you can go out there and play wide receiver. I'm really excited because it's a type of style that I've played before."
It remains to be seen who will be Moore's competition in the Vikings backfield for getting carries and playing time. Michael Bennett is an unrestricted free agent. Although Bennett said he would like to return to Minnesota, that decision will likely be up to Childress, Rob Brzezinski, the Vikings vice president of football operations, and a yet-to-be hired or promoted director of player personnel.
"He's a talented guy, but we'll just have to see how that whole running back picture fits together, but he's given you some good years here," Childress said of Bennett.
Another running back that could push Moore for playing time is Onterrio Smith, who will be coming off a one-year suspension for his third strike against the league's substance abuse policy. A fresh coaching staff could mean another chance for Smith
"He has got a clean slate with me, but we'll have a chance to sit down and meet with Onterrio when he comes in," Childress said. "I don't have any preconceived notions. I want to sit down, meet with him and see where he is at."
Bennett might not return, and if Smith does return he is more of a power back. If any one of the Vikings' current running backs is most likely to enjoy the innovations of Childress's offense lining up as a receiver, it's Moore.
"I have over 100 hundred games being able to split out and taking on safeties and make those guys miss or get upfield, run routes and stuff like that. I'm really comfortable with that," Moore said.
Innovative Offense Could Benefit Moore
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