On a play-by-play basis, defensive coordinators are first faced with trying to stop Adrian Peterson. That seems to remain the overwhelming choice, as defenses around the league continue to concentrate on stopping the run first.
Last year, however, the Vikings added WR Bernard Berrian to the mix as their deep threat and TE Visanthe Shiancoe emerged as a legitimate stretch-the-field tight end that can find seams in a defense and even be effective when split out wide. This year, the Vikings drafted Percy Harvin and now have a future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre making the on-field decisions.
"Having Brett is going to open it up a lot for our group, the running back group, and balance our offense a little bit more," Peterson said.
Having Harvin may be as much of a benefit, too, once defenses see enough of his skills on film and how the Vikings use him as the season progresses. On Sunday, he had 22 yards on two rushes and 36 yards on three receptions.
"It helps out a lot. It's the first game, so guys are going to start to believe once they see it on film. I can just imagine only getting better," Peterson said.
Childress said that the Browns were more intent on focusing their pass coverage efforts on Berrian, who was held without a catch and targeted only twice.
"Actually they tracked number 24 (CB Eric Wright) all over the field with Bernard Berrian. That was a guy (the Browns) were going to try and double over the top of and do some things with, to try and legislate against him," Childress said. "That is kind of (Cleveland coach Eric Mangini's) mode – who is you number one guy and I'm going to take that guy away and make you beat me another way. I didn't see that particularly with Percy."
But Peterson said he saw the effects of having Harvin in motion on one particular play during which Peterson gained more than 15 yards.
"It was an inside zone play and we had him coming around (as) a ghost, fake the reverse – having the defense thinking that we were going to reverse the ball. You see the guys on film, watching the film (Monday), see the guys biting on that and that helped a lot," Peterson said. "Thanks, Percy."
In all, defenses already have to decide which weapon to try to diffuse. For now, it still appears Peterson is the focus, and he still gained 180 yards rushing. As Favre becomes more comfortable with his other playmakers and Berrian gets back to full speed after a hamstring injury, the defensive decisions could be more difficult.
"They can't double everybody," Childress said. "You just want to find those guys that are single covered and throw it to them."
The Vikings' decision to start the season with an onside kick was a predetermined effort to set the stage on special teams.
"We wanted to start the season with an aggressive tone on special teams and we did. Win, lose or draw, I think it kind of set the tone to guys that we're an aggressive unit and take advantage if we have one," Longwell said.
A big seam between Cleveland's first wall of defense and their second line gave the Vikings an opportunity to try to recover the opening kickoff, but Longwell said he didn't hit it quite deep enough.
"They had been showing where they had been chipping guys and running guys across our face. He (Abram Elam) hung in there. The kick could have been a little deeper, but really my only two thoughts were I had adrenaline going and I had a wind at my back and I didn't want to hit it too hard and get it too far down there," Longwell said.
"We thought the guy would turn and run a little bit and we thought we could dump it over his head and we'd have our outside guys run and track it down."
Instead, Elam recovered and the Browns scored the first points with a field goal on their opening drive.
"Sharper's a good player. He's going to have a really good season in that Greg Williams defense. They're real aggressive. They'll let him roam, which is his specialty," Winfield said.
The Saints were playing the Lions on Sunday. The Vikings play the Lions this coming Sunday.
Winfield said WR Braylon Edwards told him after the game that Cleveland wanted to try to run the ball against the Vikings, who sported the No. 1 rushing defense each of the past three seasons. The Browns gained 87 yards on the ground.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.