Lurtsema's Reaction: Offensive Additions

Former Viking Bob Lurtsema likes the different dimensions the franchise brought in on offense. See how he thinks some of the receivers and running backs will can help a young quarterback and how the Indianapolis Colts could have an influence on the Vikings offense.

VU: I know you talked to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier about Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore (a former Vikings assistant), and Frazier relayed some of that wisdom that Moore gave him in Indianapolis to Brad Childress. What you do think he can relay and do you think it will make a difference?

BL: You can always learn from the ones that are the most successful because once you quit asking or quit learning, you're in for failure. He did relay it to Coach Childress as far as what they did and some of their adjustments. Even when I got traded to different clubs, the first thing they'd do is sit down with me in the defensive coordinator office. They'd ask me everything about the defensive plays – the corners, safeties, blitzes, the whole works. That's a skull session because they can learn from it.

Knowing Moore here, I knew how well he works within the players and that's why I was so happy with what Frazier said about working within the players' ability. If you go back and check out Peyton Manning's first year, he completed a lot of passes, but they weren't very long. What he was doing was sacrificing the year to get Peyton to read – nothing big, he just stayed within the game plan. They had a terrible first year, but they were grooming Peyton with nickel and dime stuff, just getting a feel for what you do. They kept it simple, stupid for Peyton Manning his first year. His percentage for completions were awful high, but his average-per-catches were awful low. That's a coaching philosophy that creates a smooth adjustment for some great athletes to make the jump from college to pros. It's an excellent approach and Coach Moore had that.

VU: Any initial impressions on Bobby Wade?

BL: Bobby Wade has got a great attitude. I watched his work ethic and he's a hard worker. I'm not sure why Chicago and then Tennessee let him go. Height-wise, maybe that's it. But it's just like I said with my guy, David Ball (an undrafted rookie with the Bears out of New Hampshire), sometimes it's not the height that gets the job done. It's your quickness, your hips, your flow, how smooth when you're making your cuts, how deceiving can you be with your hips. That's a major part with receivers – as important as your eyes. Watching Wade move, he does have a swagger in his cuts.

VU: What concerns do you have about Tarvaris Jackson? How concerned would you be about a guy with his lack of experience taking over at quarterback?

BL: There are big concerns. I'd be petrified. I'm not big on first- or second-year quarterbacks. Last year he just had a couple games and I was not overly impressed. It takes three to five years usually to groom a quarterback. Sure he has the arm strength and the ability, but so does Michael Vick and so did Kordell Stewart, but can they read quick enough to pick up the different coverages and how they disguise the coverages. You have to think fast enough on your coverages as far as reading your receivers. You can't hesitate. It's got to be instinct – just one, two, three, dump. You haven't got a lot of time. Brad Johnson was a brilliant quarterback but didn't have the arm strength or the scrambling ability that Jackson has. The whole thing there is how far along is he in reading coverages and making adjustments and audibling at the line of scrimmage. Why does everybody say it takes three to five years? Because it's a difficult, difficult position.

VU: Did you see anything they were doing with the split backfield with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, and from a defensive perspective, what does that do for you?

BL: When you work with split backs, it gives you so many more options as far as the offense goes. It puts a lot of heat on defenses. A lot of times they're running passing formations out of splits. You know off of I-formation that they're going to power run – they'll get that lead blocker in. But when you've got splits, it'll be more wide open a lot of times. They'll try to cut the corners and won't run up the gut as much. Now it makes you more aware of maintaining the outside. It just gives the defensive players more to think about. When they used to run near formations or far formations with the backs on the same side, you know that they are limited. But when they go in that split formation, you say, ‘That's a passing formation.' Now you've got two backs like this and you go, whoa.

Can they run off it? I don't know, but from a defensive standpoint, I hate playing against an offense with two really good running backs, and that's what the Vikings have right now. All three of them, with Mewelde Moore as well, catch the ball well and that just adds more explosiveness to the offense. I couldn't be more happy with who they drafted. Offensively, you've got to help Jackson. With splits like that, you can dump the short stuff and that helps a young quarterback.

Bob Lurtsema was a 12-year veteran defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.

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