Comfort Is Good

The Vikings offensive struggles had some fans wondering if this team would ever succeed if they couldn't score more than 20 points. After putting up 31 points on Seattle, Brad Childress said the team is showing continued improvement as it moves closer to a complete understanding of the new system.

For much of the season prior to the bye week, the Vikings looked almost lost offensively. The team struggled to put points on the board and the running joke was that when one team got to 20 points, the officials should be instructed to stop the game.

As it turned out, through the first four games, that wasn't an issue, since neither team got to 20 points. It took two defensive touchdowns against the Lions to get the number over 20 before the Vikings headed to the bye week.

But Sunday's win over the Seahawks sent a different message. Behind the strength of a ball-control offense and the big play – a 95-yard TD run by Chester Taylor and a 40-yard TD pass from Brad Johnson to Marcus Robinson, the Vikings offense has shown improvement that wasn't evident early in the season.

Coach Brad Childress said that it's never easy to transition from one offense or defense that a team is accustomed to running, much less changing the base scheme of both the offense and defense at the same time. While the Vikings defense adapted to the Cover-2 system quickly, the West Coast Offense and its nuances came much slower. But Childress said the comfort level has been increasing and finally made itself evident Sunday.

"I think it's more comfort in the system, and they continue to grow in that," Childress said. "They learn something different every week. We just keep hammering the fundamental things, and there are still things fundamental that we can do better -- just comfort level and what they can do, what's flexible, what's not flexible. This offense has tremendous flexibility, but yet there are some things that are rigid and you need to know where those lines are so to speak."

That comfort zone will be tested by the Patriots, who come into the Metrodome Monday with a 5-1 record and will provide the perfect opposition for a Vikings team looking for a statement game for the rest of the league to observe that the Vikings are back among the elite teams in the NFC.

* Marcus Robinson's lower back injury continues to be a question mark. While Childress didn't rule him out for Monday's game due to the extra day of preparation, he may miss this week and might miss two games.
* Childress is up for the Motorola Coach of the Week, an award that goes to the outstanding coaching performance of the week. Fans can go the to vote. Childress is up against Art Shell and Gary Kubiak for this week's honor. To find the voting area, go to the website home page and drop to the bottom until you see a check mark that says vote now. Voting is underway and will continue until Friday.
* Taylor is also up for an award on the same league website. He is one of three finalists for the FedEx Ground player of the week award, along with Larry Johnson and Leon Washington. * The Vikings had a cattle call workout Monday, including quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt, wide receiver Joshua Surrency, linebacker Tony Bua and defensive tackles Tony Fifito, Alex Guerrero and Alvin Smith.
* The need for an extra player was cleared when the Vikings released Jimmy Martin from the practice squad.
* Former Viking Paul Edinger was one of a handful of kickers that tried out by the Dolphins Tuesday.
* The Panthers have released former Viking linebacker Rod Davis, who is already rumored to be on a short list for the Giants, who lost LaVar Arrington for the season with a torn Achilles Monday night.
* Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell was forced to address the media after rumors circulated Monday that he was going to fire Dennis Green. Bidwell gave Green a vote of confidence – which means little to nothing in the NFL.
* The Vikings had no false start penalties Sunday, an achievement considering the deafening noise the Seattle crowd can create.
* Taylor's 95-yard run was the ninth-longest in league history. No. 1 remains Tony Dorsett, whose 99-yard run against the Vikings at the Metrodome will never been beaten.

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