Vertical or Smashmouth?

Depending on who you ask, the Vikings are going to have completely different offenses. So which is it? Vertical or smashmouth?

The Vikings have been an enigma when it comes to their offense this offseason. Depending on what player or coach you talk to, you get a very different impression of what the Vikings offense is going to be this year.

With a two-tight end base offense and improvement to the offensive line, there are plenty of people who are saying the Vikings are going to be a controlled, short-passing offense -- mixing the run and the pass to control the clock and move the chains.

One coach told VU the Vikings have the physical ability to "wear down people and outmuscle anybody." The idea here is to pound a defense until it is tired in the second half and the offense just keeps getting stronger and attacks a defense like a ground war.

While head coach Mike Tice may prefer this approach, where an offensive line imposes its will, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has a different idea of how to approach the offense -- like looking back to 1998 and 1999.

The signings of Derrick Alexander and D'Wayne Bates were clear signs of what the Vikings and Linehan are looking at from the Vikings offense. Last year, as Cris Carter was bottled and Randy Moss was throttled, the vertical offense the Vikings had imposed on the league the previous three years got grounded.

The problem was that neither Carter nor Jake Reed could consistently stretch a defense. Without Michael Bennett able to keep defenses honest by freezing linebackers, opposing defenses were able to double Moss and pack everybody in. This year, that shouldn't happen.

With Alexander and Bates both possessing exceptional deep speed, if teams are hellbent on double-teaming Moss, the deep ball will be available. Add the ability for Byron Chamberlain and Jim Kleinsasser to roam free in the secondary and the Vikings have an offense that can put points up in a hurry and return the long pass to the equation.

So what will it be? From what the team has planned for the preseason anyway, it's a high-octane vertical game until they get a lead and a smashmouth to hold the lead. But, when push comes to shove, look for the Vikes to revert to the recent old-school ways and try to take deep shots at scoring early and often.

Viking Update Top Stories