The Vikings may be using the no-huddle offense on selective drives the rest of the season. Adding the new wrinkle to the offense caused instant success. But head coach Mike Tice and Daunte Culpepper offer different reasons for using the varied approach.
"It gives (Culpepper) an opportunity to be in a rhythm," Tice said. "It gives him the opportunity to play street ball, if you will, and keep it rhythmic. … Obviously on the road it's a little tougher with the crowd noise and you have to pick your spots if you are going to use it."
Culpepper says the no-huddle attack hurts defenses. "One, it gets defenses tired," Culpepper said. "Another thing, teams can't substitute like they want to."
With six games remaining, Culpepper won't reveal when or how often the no-huddle will continue to be implemented. "You're going to have to wait and see," he said. "It's definitely going to be in our game plan for the rest of the year, but you'll have to wait and see how it goes."
It took a little longer than the initial plans, but rookie safety Brian Williams has arrived as a regular in the starting lineup. Williams, drafted in the fourth round last April, had impressed Vikings coaches during minicamps enough to press for a starting job by training camp.
But a pulled hamstring during training camp hampered Williams' progress. Slowly, Williams fought his way back into the lineup. First, he was the dime-back. Then he increased his playing time and was designated as the team's nickel-back. Today Williams will become the team's second rookie to start back-to-back games in the secondary. (Willie Offord started back-to-back games at strong safety in Weeks 2-3 and 6-7).
"We needed to get someone back there who could get lined up right and at least give us a chance," Tice said.
Moving Corey Chavous from left cornerback to strong safety created the void that Williams has filled. "We thought he'd be able to push for one of the starting jobs," Tice said.
"I thought Brian Williams went out and played very aggressive football," Tice said of Williams' starting debut against the Packers.
Most challenging season?
Defensive coordinator Willie Shaw, who has been a football coach for 33 years and has spent 15 of them in the NFL, said that despite all the adjustment the Vikings have had to make on defense this season it would be too simple to label this his most challenging season.
"The National Football League from Sunday to Sunday is a challenge in itself, and I've been to the Super Bowl and been associated with winning and losing teams," he said. "You have to evaluate it at the end of the year. They are all very challenging. Even sometimes if you are winning and have a chance to go to the Super Bowl it is even more challenging because of the position you are in.
"To say this was or not, I'm not sure. We are in the middle of it. Certainly we have had to make more adjustments than normal, but at the same time you do make adjustments. They are just not as obvious and clean cut as the ones we have been doing. The (season) is a marathon; it has never been a sprint. Sometimes when you are winning there is even more pressure, and it is even more crucial when you make even the slightest adjustments that the average fan does not see."
The Vikings are building a 3,000-square-foot pavilion next to the team's outdoor practice fields at their Winter Park facility in Eden Prairie where they can entertain corporate sponsors. The facility will have a roof and open sidewalks and will be used to host community events, sponsorship opportunities, clinics and other events.
Michael Bennett was asked about his 62-yard run against Green Bay, where he was caught from behind by rookie safety Marques Anderson and tackled near the goal line. "I set up Moe Williams for the touchdown record," Bennett said with an ear-to-ear grin.
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