Occasionally during training camp, Vikings head coach Brad Childress liked to point out that he wasn't going to be concerned about the quality of his offense's runs as much as the quantity of carries. Two weeks into the season he is sticking to that approach.
Against Washington in the season opener, Chester Taylor had 31 carries for 88 yards, the most rushing attempts in one game by a Viking since Chuck Foreman. Last week, Taylor rushed for 113 yards on 24 carries. In both games, many of Taylor's runs were for minimal gains. But that wasn't the issue to Childress.
"You see what's happening – we are staying with the running game," Childress said. "Sometimes we don't get as many initial yards as we'd like to, but as the game goes down we wear people out and we've had some huge hits, especially in the fourth quarter where it's been game-winning drives or game-winning field goals to win it because we've run the ball so much."
Childress' reference to "huge hits" has a meaning that is two-fold. On one hand, the huge hits Childress is mentioning are clutch runs by Taylor. On the other hand, the huge hits are coming from Tony Richardson, who has given the Vikings a lethal weapon at fullback not realized in the past.
"His tempo that he brings to this team and what he does on game day ... he's fun to play with and he's probably one of my favorite players on the team," Childress said.
Through two games, Richardson has four carries for 10 yards. But he has been one of the most instrumental players to the offense's success, mainly on the ground, and while not garnering many headlines, may well prove to be one of the most significant free agent signings.
When the Vikings host the Bears Sunday, Richardson will be practically face to face with one of the NFL's most feared defensive players, linebacker Brian Urlacher. Not surprisingly, Richardson can't wait.
"This week I get to play against not only the best linebacker but the best defensive player in the game today," Richardson said. "So I have to study, study, study and see if there are weaknesses in his game. I have yet to find any. This is just one game, but to me it's a test every play and every week and I have a tremendous opportunity this week."
Naturally, Richardson won't tip his or the Vikings' hand regarding what type of game the offense might engage to combat Urlacher. A variety of offensive sets, Richardson said, will probably be par for the course.
"We'll use multiple formations and multiple players, we'll go two tight ends, three receivers, two backs …" Richardson said. "So we're not going to say, ‘OK, we're going to put me out there and watch Urlacher all day long.' We're just going to go out and play our game. When I'm on the field I'm going to be out there and trying to do my job and hopefully that will be enough for the Vikings to win.
It is too early to put too much emphasis on Sunday's matchup between the pair of 2-0 teams atop the NFC North Division, but a win will mean as much to the victor now as it will in December. For the Vikings to come out on top they will need to contain Urlacher.
"We have to pay extra attention to him," Chester Taylor said.
Richardson will be one of the players expected to give Urlacher extra attention.
"The No. 1 thing you can say about him is he understands how he fits into that defense; that's what it's all about," Richardson said. "If you have a great scheme – which they do – and you understand where you fit in that scheme you'll be successful. He understands where he has to be on every play. He's not a guy who takes chances and puts himself in bad situations just to make plays and hurt his defense. He's out there doing exactly what his coaches want him to do fundamental-wise and technique-wise. When a play is coming his way he's going to make it.
"We'll have our hands full Sunday."
Richardson Looks Forward to Urlacher Matchup
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