Vikings Offense ‘A Work in Progress'

Vikings players aren't panicking at some of the troubles the offense has had in its first two games, but they realize there is plenty of room for growth. See what the players and coaches have to say about it.

No one ever claimed the 2006 Vikings offense would be the reincarnation of the 1999 St. Louis Rams, who self-promoted their arena football-style, shoot-out style offense as the "Greatest Show on Turf." In fact, a quick study of first-year coach Brad Childress indicated that the Vikings offense would probably be conservative.

Even though the Vikings offense has sputtered along at a pace just productive enough to assist the team to a 2-0 record, there is much room for growth.

Consider the production at receiver. Troy Williamson has 10 catches for 179 yards, a pleasant surprise for a player who dropped three passes in the season opener. But there isn't much after that. Travis Taylor has four catches, Billy McMullen has two catches, and Marcus Robinson has one catch, a touchdown in the opener.

"Two weeks does not a season make" is a logical disclaimer considering just 12 percent of the season is complete. But still, Vikings fans might be wondering if this is what to expect from the purple version of the West Coast offense.

"It's good for us. The more opportunity we get to make plays so I think we've thrown quite a few balls down the field," Taylor said. "Everybody thinks of the West Coast offense as a true San Francisco slant route, quick-out route stuff like that, but we've got guys like Troy and Marcus who can go downfield and blow by some guys so we have to take advantage of that."

Most concerning to the offense might be its conversion rate on third downs. In the opener in Washington, the Vikings converted a respectable nine of 17 third downs. But last week against Carolina, the Vikings moved the chains on just two of 15 third-down tries. Last year, the Vikings offense was ranked 30th on third down conversions at 32.7 percent. This year, the Vikings are about the same at 34.4 percent.

Again, only two weeks of the season have past, but …

"Usually defenses are ahead of offenses at the beginning," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "We're starting to catch our stride a little bit. We had an offensive line that none of those guys have played together side by side, so those guys are still coming together. I think we're starting to catch up and become a little better oiled machine."

Against Washington, the Vikings produced two touchdowns and two field goals. Against Carolina, the Vikings offense drove for three field goals. (The lone touchdown was scored on a fake field goal.)

"It's still a work in progress," Taylor said. "There are still a lot of plays out there, a lot of yards to be made. But at the same time when you have a balanced offense where you can run and throw the ball, it's tough on the defense. But it's a work in progress, but at the same time if you go out there and make plays it's going to show up on the scoreboard."

Tight end Jermaine Wiggins agrees: "It's a work in progress. We're still leaving some things on the field, and I think that's where you'll see us grow as a team."

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