The Erhardt Offense

Edit--I was three paragraphs in to writing a post about the Erhardt offense, and luckily I came back over here to see that DC purple had already done it, and done it very well.  Welcome to the front page, DC--Ted

First, mega-kudos to Ted and the DN over getting that great interview with Musgrave. Very informative and we've needed some real Viking news like the desert needs the rain. This post is going to springboard off a key point we learned from our new OC.

Bill Musgrave said that the Vikings will be using the Erhardt system and though it pains me to admit this, I know pretty much jack and squat about Erhardt (and T-Jack left town :) ). Since there might be some other folks in the same boat, I figured I'd shared my research with you.

The Erhardt-Perkins offensive system was created by Ron Erhardt and Ray Perkins to adapt the offense to the cold weather that northern teams (Patriots, Giants, Steelers, etc) usually had to deal with. Lots of finger-numbing cold, freezing wind, maybe even snow, stuff that the southern teams rarely encounter. Usually considered 'smash-mouth football', the Erhardt system emphasizes between-the-tackles running with a big powerful RB behind a big, powerful Guard. When it's time to pass, it combines play-action with deep vertical routes. As Erhardt said, "throw to score, run to win", so we should see some good ground game clock control.

That's the basic system, and it's since evolved to include some fancy 4 and 5 receiver packages (especially with dome considerations), and who knows what new wrinkles Bill Musgrave will bring to the playbook.

Also, the "language" of the play-calling will change. The West Coast offense that the Vikings CREATED and have traditionally employed, used 'color' coded (e.g. "Green Right")play calling at the line of scrimmage. The Erhardt system is numerically based, and the code might be something like '14-Spike-28-4', indicating that it's play #14, player #28 is to take the ball and hit the #4 gap.

It's a pretty big change from the Viking's traditional West Coast offense, but maybe it's time for a change. It does, however, bring to mind a number of questions.

1) The actual language of the play-calling is about to change. That's really pretty major and everyone on the offense needs to get up to speed on the new language. Only a handful made it out to the Ponder-Webb camp, and obviously those guys just got a pretty big head-start over anyone who didn't go. It's not just a matter of getting used to the new QBs, it's learning and getting accustomed to the new language. Did the players who didn't go, receive copies of the new playbook?

2) The new scheme will shove our O-line forward much more often, and they're actually built for more. But will McKinnie be in good enough shape to run 10-20 yards down-field to help grade the road? Is this the reason that McKinnie said he was going to be in better shape this year?

3) Will the team take a year to get fully 'immersed' into this new system, making this an unlikely year to see a lot of success, or will it be a relatively quick change to a totally different offensive scheme?

4) Ponder's thrown some long passes but what really is his arm's envelope? In the WCO he'd be ideal even if he had a 'noodle-arm', but now he's going to be called on to execute Musgrave's vertical passing format. Will he be up to doing that on a regular basis?

5) Do the Vikings have the necessary speed on the outside to make the vertical passing game effective?

Beyond that, I'm really looking forward to seeing Peterson and Gerhart being properly used. That's long overdue.

Looking forward to everyone's thoughts on this.

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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