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Offense looking ‘distinctly different’
Bill Musgrave (Bruce Kluckhohn/US Presswire)
Posted Jul 29, 2012
Bill Musgrave had to curtail his offense with two new quarterbacks and a lockout in 2011. This year, with a full offseason and a returning starting quarterback, Musgrave is getting a chance to really put it together.
Bill Musgrave’s debut season with the Vikings could best be compared to
’s iffy hammie – tweaked, not torn.
Musgrave was hired to be the Vikings offensive coordinator in January 2011 when the Vikings made Leslie Frazier the full-time head coach and he brought Musgrave on board to lead the Vikings offense. With Brett Favre not coming back and a dearth of quarterback talent available in the draft, it was going to be Musgrave’s job to do in Minnesota what he did in Atlanta – help make an NFL newbie (
in Atlanta and
in Minnesota) a viable NFL quarterback.
The 2011 lockout took away the formative steps of bringing along Ponder. He ended up starting 10 games, but only because Donovan McNabb couldn’t close out significant second-half leads in the first three games of the season – all Vikings losses – and, at some point, Frazier, Musgrave and Rick Spielman decided the future is now, benched (and later released) McNabb and threw Ponder into the fire.
This time around, however, Musgrave has had a full offseason to work with his young offensive group – the concepts are now down, the execution is the only question.
“It’s distinctly different this year,” Musgrave said. “Our players are more prepared across the board and there are fewer unknowns – not only us coaches, but the players as well. We’re hoping to get a ton more accomplished.”
The important part of the offense – without
currently being viewed as the backbone of the offense – is the maturation of Christian Ponder as an NFL-ready quarterback looking to be the next Class of 2011 QB to step into the spotlight –
have both earned their local stripes. Blaine “Sunshine” Gabbert has yet to find his groove and
is wondering if anyone remembers the Titans’ first-round pick from a year ago.
Musgrave said Ponder is well ahead of where he was a year ago at this time – which was learning the concepts of what Musgrave had in mind but not having practical live-action applications. With the NFL labor peace at a current state détente, Ponder has had a full offseason spent like a fixture at Winter Park and the difference in his level of understanding of the Musgrave’s offense is pronounced.
“Christian has a greater working knowledge of our system now than he did 12 months ago – hopefully more than he did when we started in May getting on the field,” Musgrave said. “We’re going to continue to ramp him up and ramp our whole offense up based on what they can handle. We definitely want to get good at some things and not spread any of our players too thin with too much volume.”
One has to wonder just how “Big Bang Theory” the Musgrave offense is. Clearly, the Vikings offense is getting newer (and they hope improved), but it may be time to see the full scope of what Brad Childress would have likely called a “kick ass offense.” In the NFL there isn’t time to baby-step an offense when you got scuttled out of it in your first year. If a significant improvement isn’t made, the double-secret probation portion of the Musgrave offense may never see the light of day.
The Vikings and the City of Mankato are working on extending their agreement to hold training camp in the southern Minnesota town. The team has been conducting training camp in Mankato for nearly half a century and are in the final year of their current four-year agreement. Estimates are that Vikings fans generate about $5 million to the local Mankato economy each year by conducting camp at Minnesota State-Mankato.
Mankato officials are likely extremely pleased that the Arden Hills stadium proposal did a face-plant. Almost every NFL team used to conduct training camp at college campuses near the city in which they play. But, as the ability to capture revenues for teams has become more heightened through awareness of new revenue streams, when teams build new stadiums, they often incorporate a practice facility that can be used to increase in-house team revenues. With the Metrodome site unable to include an adjacent practice facility, the likelihood of keeping training camp in Mankato for years to come has been greatly enhanced.
Former Viking Stu Voigt agreed to a $15,000 fine to avoid going to battle with the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) over allegations of financial misconduct. The FDIC had threatened to impose a fine as high as $125,000 against Voigt, who was accused of supporting high-risk lending chair of First Commercial Bank in Bloomington to a company that Voigt himself had a financial stake in. While part of the settlement didn’t require Voigt to admit any official wrongdoing, it stipulated that he won’t be involved in banking again.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for
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