Editorial: Vikings coaches deserve praise

Published 9:56 am Tuesday, October 23, 2012

If the Minnesota Vikings were 3-4 but looked a lot flashier on offense with long passes and a seasoned-looking Christian Ponder was behind center, would that satisfy the critics?

For some pro football followers, winning isn’t good enough. The team has to look and feel a certain way. The quarterback has to be a strong pocket passer but be nimble enough to scramble and toss the long bombs, regardless of the quality of his receiving corps. It’s as though the pass-oriented offenses pioneered by the Oakland Raiders in the 1970s and perfected by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s have now become the standard. That’s probably because the modern play-action offenses employed by teams like New England, Pittsburgh and New York all have marquee, experienced, long-bombing quarterbacks at the helm, and those teams have been successful in the past decade.

But 5-2 is a good start to any season, and it doesn’t matter whether teams look like Bill Belichick’s Patriots. The Vikings’ coaches deserve credit for A. being the most-improved team in the National Football League, and B. implementing a team strategy using the talent they had, not forcing the talent to fit some league mold. By the way, fitting a mold is what Brad Childress was attempting.

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Last year, the NFL was dominated by passing offenses, with quarterbacks like Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints breaking all kinds of records.

The Vikings this year have shown that the old-school style of football — running the ball on offense and rushing the quarterback on defense — still works. After all, with Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin on the team, and Toby Gerhardt as a backup, a priority on running the ball seems obvious.

Yes, it would be good for that run-oriented offense to have a better downfield pass threat. Yes, it would be good for that run-oriented offense to get more first downs and have fewer three-and-outs. And, yes, Ponder is still developing his skills at quarterback.

But such criticisms must be stated while also noting the good record and noting style of play this team is shooting for. Not every team must mimic the Patriots. In fact, it’s fun to see the Vikings show the league’s teams a new way to victories. These are not the vertical Vikings of the Randall Cunningham and Brett Favre eras.