To Huddle Or Not

While you are talking turkey, Mike Tice, Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss are talking about the pros and cons of the no-huddle offense.

The Vikings surprised just about everyone when they used a no-huddle offense to open their Nov. 17 game against Green Bay. The results were impressive, as they jumped to a 14-0 lead en route to the victory.

Last week against the Patriots, the no-huddle was used again, this time with the Vikings trailing in the second quarter. What was a 21-0 deficit in the first half turned into a 24-17 loss in a game the Vikings had a chance to win.

Afterward, coach Mike Tice second-guessed whether he should have opened the game using the no-huddle. But on Monday, Tice admitted there are pitfalls to the system.

"The problem you have with the no-huddle, at the end it actually hurt us," he said. "It wore our players down, not just their players. We weren't as crisp towards the end of the game. We got a little bit lethargic as far as up front. Guys were winded. Our receivers were obviously winded. The no huddle has its plusses, it also has its minuses.

Receiver Randy Moss agrees. Moss, in fact, took himself out of a fourth-down play late in the New England game because he said the no-huddle had left him exhausted.

"That no-huddle, it's very tiring," Moss said. "It's very tiring for the defense, because they've got to get adjusted. But it's very tiring for the offense, because if we complete a long pass or incomplete a long pass, then I've got to run all the way back. That's the ups and downs of the no-huddle."

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper, however, is a fan of the strategy. "I like it," he said. "I'm all for it. But ultimately it's Coach Tice's decision. But we still have to be able to huddle up and move the ball methodically down the field. We can't just go no-huddle. It doesn't matter to me. I would love to do it a lot more, and we might do it a lot more. But it's all up to Coach Tice."

Said Tice: "It does take away some of your offense because you only have so many plays that you have coded. After a while of standing up there going `scat right x, scat right x' and you run that two or three times, they know what's coming. You put your linemen at a disadvantage because now the defensive front knows you're passing the ball. It has its plusses, it has its minuses, but we like it. It seems to get our quarterback in a good rhythm, a good flow. We'll continue to use it. We'll just pick our spots."

As for the play Moss took himself out, Tice said he wants to be able to give the receiver a breather. However, that became more difficult against the Patriots after receiver Kelly Campbell was injured.

"We'd like to have (Moss) come out after he runs consecutive deep routes," Tice said. "We'd like to have him come out for a play, get another receiver in there and then be able to have him go back in there fresh. Then we don't have the situation of people saying he took a play off, when sometimes he literally has to take a play off if he's out there after running 40 or 50 yards down the field and then coming all the way back.

"After you do that multiple times and also with the no-huddle, when there is no 30-40 second rest in the huddle, that takes a toll on a player. Then when we had the injury, we were not able to sub him out. So, that posed a problem towards the end. I think if we had Kelly healthy at the end we could've substituted a little bit better."

Effort 'til the end
Tice expressed disappointment with Moss' on-field performance for one of the first times this season after the Patriots loss. However, it had nothing to do with Moss electing to remove himself for a play.

Rather, he was upset that Moss did not go all out on the Vikings' final offensive play of the game.

"I didn't like the fact that at the end of the game, the last play, we didn't get a full route by the player," Tice said. "That could've been a little bit better. We discussed that this morning and I think we're on the same page on that."

Moss, in fact, apologized the next day for failing to give an effort on the play.

After the loss, Moss also expressed frustration saying, "There's a lot going through my mind that I want to blow up, say what it is and who it is," he said. "But I really don't want to get into that controversy and all that. I think that people see what's going on, and make your own judgments."

Moss was thought to be unhappy with Culpepper, but on Monday the two met for more than an hour and seemed to iron things out.


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