The Vikings overhauled their personnel at the skill positions on offense, but they still find themselves with a struggling offense, similar to their performance last year.
The Vikings spent much of the spring and summer retooling an offense that never seemed to get on track last year.
Veterans Bobby Wade
and Robert Ferguson
were signed to bolster the receiving corps and Sidney Rice
and Aundrae Allison
were added through the draft. Troy Williamson
was the only holdover when the opening-day roster was set.
Changes also were made at tight end, with Visanthe Shiancoe
leaving the Giants to sign as a free agent, and at running back, where the dynamic Adrian Peterson
was selected with the seventh overall pick in the draft.
And don't forget the keys to the offense were handed to 2006 second-round pick Tarvaris Jackson
, who made only two starts as a rookie.
So far, none of it has mattered.
The Vikings offense continues to sputter along. The latest example came Sunday as Kansas City edged the Vikings 13-10. Minnesota now has three touchdowns in three games and through Sunday, the offense is ranked 26th in the NFL. That's mainly because the passing offense is 28th, compared to the 10th-ranked rushing offense.
Coach Brad Childress attributed the problems to "different things at different times."
"We're doing some decent things in the run game and we are wiggling some people open in the pass game," Childress said. "If people are going to continue to crowd the box on us, we're going to need to look at opportunities to get up the football field, which I thought we had a couple of those opportunities (against Kansas City). But you have to make hay when you have those opportunities. I am fond of saying there are only four or five or six plays in a football game that make any difference anyway. You just don't know which ones those will be."
Two potential key plays Sunday occurred in the second quarter. The first featured an 8-yard halfback option pass from Mewelde Moore
to Shiancoe in the end zone that was ruled an incompletion. Childress challenged the call but it was upheld by referee Walt Anderson.
The second came late in the quarter when quarterback Kelly Holcomb
, starting in place of the injured Jackson (groin), overthrew a wide-open Ferguson, who was at the goal line when the ball sailed over his head.
The Vikings will look to get their offense on track Sunday when they play host to the 3-0 Green Bay Packers
. It will be a crucial test for a 1-2 team that will be headed into the bye and then play at Chicago, at Dallas, vs. Philadelphia and vs. San Diego.
"We've just got to finish," Holcomb said of the offense. "Everybody talks about finishing but that's what we've got to do. We have to finish drives and we have to finish games. You see the teams like New England, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh. They finish people off. When they've got you down, they finish you off. We have to get that in us, we have to start finishing."
Coach Brad Childress said he held rookie running back Adrian Peterson out of the Vikings' final drive in their 13-10 loss to Kansas City because Minnesota was going to be throwing the ball and pass protection isn't Peterson's strong suit. But it seemed like a curious decision seeing as Peterson is the team's only playmaker. Asked about this, Peterson was diplomatic. "The coaches, they make the calls," he said. "They put guys out there for certain plays, and, you know, I just handle my job when I'm called upon."
Quarterback Kelly Holcomb, on if the Vikings (1-2) feel like they could be 3-0, considering they lost their past two games by a combined six points: "Yeah (we do). And our defense has played well enough for us to be 3-0. Offensively, we have to pick it up a little bit. Everybody is going to come in here and we're going to start working. We're going to start working again Wednesday. We have a good Green Bay Packer team coming in here 3-0 and we have to try to find a way to win."
WR Bobby Wade isn't pleased the offense has only three touchdowns in the first three games. "We just have to find a way to put the ball in the end zone," he said. "I don't care if we're passing the ball more, if we're running the ball more. However it works, we need to find a way to do that. We trust our coaches for that. ... We have to execute. Simple as that, play is called we have to execute."
FB Tony Richardson missed a second consecutive game Sunday because of a forearm injury. It wasn't easy for Richardson to sit out, considering he played his first 11 seasons with Kansas City and this would have served as a homecoming. "I was definitely looking forward to it," he said. "More so for the Minnesota Vikings, not just Tony Richardson. But I looked at the opportunity to come back, had a lot of good memories here and still have a lot of love for these fans out here."
QB Tarvaris Jackson could miss a second consecutive game this Sunday against the Packers. Jackson missed the loss to Kansas City because of a groin strain and the Vikings might want to give him another week to rest. That would give him three weeks because the Vikings have a bye after Sunday's game. Childress said the veteran Holcomb will start against Green Bay if Jackson doesn't go.
RB Adrian Peterson has two 100-yard rushing games already this season and is one away from tying Chuck Foreman's rookie record set in 1973.
RB Chester Taylor could return after missing two games because of a hip injury. Childress said Monday that "I would like to think Chester can get back this week."
Rookie WR Aundrae Allison has taken over as the Vikings' primary kickoff return man. Troy Williamson had been used in that role too, but he sat out Sunday because of a hamstring injury.
CB Antoine Winfield is hoping that he is used against Packers WR Donald Driver on Sunday. Winfield plays the left corner across from Cedric Griffin but so far teams have stayed away from the veteran. Winfield's desire would be to simply shadow Driver.