For the second consecutive year, Bobby Wade led the Vikings in receptions. He believes the team has players in place to do better than their one-and-done playoff performance in 2008, but he also believes the team would be better off if the players could take "a little more control."
"I think the key is to let us take a little more control as players. You look at all the good teams in the postseason, their playmakers are making big plays," Wade said after Sunday's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. "There is only so much you can do as far as the system. As individuals and as players, we're the ones that actually make it happen. That's where we can kind of move forward, letting our players make plays."
Asked what he meant by "more control," Wade pointed to the situation with quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. The freedom, or lack thereof, of the Vikings' quarterbacks to be able to audible has been a talking point of some players since Brad Childress took over as head coach and installed his version of the West Coast offense.
"I got into talking about it before with the situation with Tarvaris, not wanting to get him too exposed offensively last year. That's what I mean. We have a lot of guys on this offense that, top to bottom, they might not have enough confidence in the players being able to make the plays," Wade told Viking Update. "I think playing this year kind of lets everybody else know that we can compete, we can play as individuals across the board. We've got guys that can actually play.
"Not necessarily play-calling, just confidence in the players. It's not the play-calling. It's none of that specifically. If you look at teams that let their players play versus teams that try to keep complete control … I don't want to get specific. I'm just saying players making a play eventually to win games in games like this (in the playoffs). (It's) on the players. Strictly on the players."
Wade reiterated the next day in front of a crowd of reporters that his comments were not a criticism of the play-calling.
"It wasn't about the play-calling. I didn't mean it to come off like that. My thing was about, more or less, just being prepared from top to bottom," Wade said. "I give the Eagles all the credit because they are a postseason team who knows how to win, top to bottom. I was giving their coaches credit for being prepared to play and their players being prepared to play. Not that we weren't, but in the playoffs all you really want is a chance to continue to go on. I thought we did a great job all year from giving our players chances to make plays on the football field and compete. I thought (Sunday) it kind of slowed down. That's the way it is. Still got to give the Eagles all the credit for making it happen."
Throughout the regular season, the Vikings averaged 330.5 yards of offense per game, with a 184.75-yard average coming in the passing game. They had diminishing numbers in their final three games of the regular season and in the playoff game against the Eagles.
On Dec. 14 at Arizona, Jackson was the starting quarterback for the first time since Sept. 14. The offense generated a healthy 396 yards, the second-highest production of the season, but only 157 yards of that came in the passing game. The following week against Atlanta, the total dropped to 350 yards, with 195 yards passing. In the season finale against the New York Giants, the Vikings had 328 yards, with 218 in the air.
The total net yards on offense continued its downward trend in the playoffs, with the Vikings managing 301 yards of offense against Philadelphia.
Wade was asked why it slowed down.
"Not really sure. Just the way it was. One thing about it, I can't really get involved with how things are called or how they're taken care of," he said. "All we can do is execute the plays on the field. In hindsight, looking back, there was still a lot of plays left out there on the field from the players, from our standpoint, that we could have definitely taken care of and given us a better opportunity to win that game."
Wade said he would talk to his offensive coaches, coordinator Darrell Bevell and wide receivers coach George Stewart, in the offseason about his concerns, and he indicated that he already had done that during the season.
"My conversations were just … they asked me what I thought we could improve on, giving our players a little more opportunity to make some plays," Wade said. "Sometimes we do a lot of taking some people out of the equation, putting a little more on some other players. I thought we can do a little better job of letting everybody have an opportunity to do that. For the most part, I thought we did. In the games we were winning, it was really, really good. Kind of like I said, it kind of slowed down (against the Eagles)."
All that said, Wade said he still believes in the players on the roster and didn't think the team needed to go looking elsewhere for big free-agent signings.
"I thought we made enough (progress) just knowing that we've got guys here that can compete," he said. "It's all so often that you always look somewhere for something else, but guys that we went and got and we got in this locker room, they're quality guys that know how to be leaders, that know how to lead the team. That's big."
Wade lobbies for more player control
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