Star Key to Hutch

The days of the Vikings being the high-octane offense that puts the fear of God into NFL defensive coordinators are over. The new-look Vikings are going to take the approach that has made teams famous in recent years -- ball control, clock management and a power running game.

To be successful in the NFL, you don't need a top-rated offense. It helps, but isn't mandatory. Over the past few years, the Vikings, Colts and Chiefs have consistently posted some of the game's most prolific offensive numbers. Yet, they have no championships to show for it -- or even a single Super Bowl appearance.

No, the Vikings and new head coach Brad Childress are veering in a very different direction. They didn't go out and make a running back like Edgerrin James or a quarterback like Drew Brees their biggest free agent signing in franchise history. Instead, they spent their money on guard Steve Hutchinson, who signed the now-infamous "poison pill" contract for seven years and $49 million.

That should have sent a clear message to the rest of the NFC North. These aren't your Dad's Vikings. This group is going to be different.

The Vikings offense is being built around Brad Johnson, who at his best is a ball-control quarterback. His biggest downfall in the past is that he doesn't throw the deep ball and teams can pack in the safeties. But, when he's got an efficient running game, that all changes.

The signing of Hutchinson completes what the Vikings are convinced will be an offense similar to that run by the Seahawks -- a system capable of the big play, but whose bread and butter is running behind a massive left side of the offensive line. With Hutchinson now flanked by Pro Bowler Matt Birk and potential Pro Bowler Bryant McKinnie, the Vikings have the capability of running that ball 30-40 times a game and being effective.

The days of the bombs to Randy Moss for a quick-strike seven appear to be over for the Vikings. Fans are going to have to get used to a Seattle or Philly style of offense. But, seeing as those thems have been to the last four NFC title games and the last two Super Bowls, maybe that's not such a bad thing to aspire to.

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