Where's the Explosion in Vikings Offense?

Phrase it however you want – playmakers, explosive plays, execution – but the Vikings haven't been dangerous enough on offense and they know it. See what the head coach, offensive coordinator, starting quarterback and leading receiver had to say about it.

One of Vikings coach Brad Childress' favorite replies to certain lines of questioning by the media is that he wishes he were clairvoyant. After what happened last weekend, he just might have an offensive coordinator that is.

Three days before the Green Bay Packers dismantled the Vikings' offense and defense to the tune of a 34-0 shellacking, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was touting the challenge of facing the Packers' defense.

"Their rush defense, they've done a nice job. I think they've only given up five explosive runs up to this point in the season, so that will be a big challenge for us, but one we are looking toward to," Bevell said.

The Vikings didn't live up to the challenge, managing only one "explosive" rush, measured in terms of gaining 12 yards or more, in the first half. They did actually manage three rushes of 11 yards each in addition to that, but they also had four rushes of 2 yards or less, including two for no gain and one for negative yardage.

This week, Childress cited two of "the biggest ingredients" that the team needs to win – explosive plays and turnovers.

The passing game is suffering even more when it comes to being explosive. Childress defines those as gains of 16 yards or more, and the offense produced only two explosive gains in the passing game against the Packers – a 35-yard reception by former Packer Robert Ferguson and a 50-yard pass play by Chester Taylor. Conversely, the Packers and Brett Favre produced seven explosive pass plays, with gains of 25, 19, 34, 24, 16, 37 and 17 yards.

"You see the confidence level that 4 (Brett Favre) plays with on the other side," Childress said. "He doesn't think twice. He's been in that system for 16-17 years. You would like to get it to where you are not thinking anything about your system. You are thinking about everything that you see, all the tells that you get on the other side of the football. That's the biggest thing that I see that other guy do and that's where you are trying to get this guy (Tarvaris Jackson) to."

Wide receiver Bobby Wade, who has two of the Vikings' total of 14 pass plays of 20 or more yards this season, says the opportunities are there but the team isn't hitting on them.

"Missed opportunities. We have to be able to capitalize on the ones that we do have and the ones that are available," Wade said. "For us, it's our offense and our defense, as well as special teams, to hopefully generate some points in all three phases. There are definitely some (explosive plays) available."

Bevell indicated there were more missed opportunities earlier in the season than more recently.

"Probably earlier in the year there was (more opportunities)," he said. "I can remember a couple against the Chiefs. I can remember a couple against the Bears where we hit a couple, we didn't hit a couple. There have probably been a few others, but still that is something that we look for every week and, like I said, that we try to take advantage of."

So how do the Vikings get more explosive plays without being able to add any real veteran personnel at this stage of the season? We posed that question to Bevell.

"I think you look for specific looks from the defense that you can try to take advantage of, look for weaknesses in their defense and try to exploit those," he said. "Those are the types of things that we are always looking for, trying to get those guys down the field and then put our best guy for that weakness that we see from a specific defense in a position that he can make that play."

Six of the 14 aforementioned longer pass plays came from the right hand of Tarvaris Jackson, who returned to the starting lineup this week after an on-again, off-again dance with the starting lineup this season because of groin, finger and head injuries.

Jackson said there are a lot of different reasons for the lack of explosive pass plays.

"It could be the quarterback one time, missed reads or just missing the throw. It can be anything. It's just not one guy," he said. "As far as explosive plays, we've got a lot of explosive plays on the run. We have a couple on the pass, but not as many passes as we would like. We are trying to work on that and get better and just get on the same page with that."

Jackson said he didn't think he'd have to guard against forcing the ball in an effort to prove himself to his coaches in his return to the starting lineup, and his offensive coordinator didn't seem to be worried about that either.

"I think it's a fair question, but I don't think it is something that he is concerned with right now," Bevell said. "I think he is just concerned with going out and playing as well as he can play. I don't think he is trying to prove anything to anybody. I think he just wants to come out here and function within the offense, do what we ask him to do, and all that other stuff takes care of itself. He has the ability, he has mobility, he has the arm strength, he has the mind. He has the skills for the position. He knows that. Now he just needs to go out and function and begin to help build his confidence in that area."

For Childress, the equation is simple to define, even if hitting on the answer isn't as easy.

"It's amazing when you have got a finite database of 32 teams what the important things are in winning or losing football games," he said.

One of the key factors is explosive plays, and for the Vikings those haven't been occurring nearly often enough.

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