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Sunday's Notebook: Brad Childress' Wild Side

Wild Thing

ESPN's Kevin Seifert was shocked to see it -- Football Outsiders' Doug Farrar says he saw this coming.  The Vikings, in minicamp on Saturday, unveiled the Wildcat formation in which Percy Harvin, Chester Taylor and Darius Reynaud all took direct snaps.  Between Seifert and Farrar, I must admit that I'm more on Seifert's side -- maybe "shocked" isn't the right word for my reaction when I saw this news, but it certainly raised my eyebrows.

For one, this indicates a shift from the vanilla, unimaginative offensive schemes that have haunted the Childress regime for the last three years.  I've criticized him for forcing his players into a system rather than forming a system around the talent he has, but this news suggests that he's on the verge of a split from this philosophy.

Secondly, the fact that Chester Taylor took direct snaps yesterday shouldn't be overlooked.  It's beyond me why he was so underutilized last season -- sure, there were only so many carries to go around between him and Peterson, and true, I liked how he was used in the passing game, but the man didn't even break 400 rushing yards last year.  That's not good enough, and that's why I like seeing Taylor involved in the Wildcat.

Besides, one of the befuddling things of the Childress era -- and there have been many -- is his unwillingness to put Taylor and Peterson on the field at the same time.  Here's hoping this new imaginative approach to the offense leads to situations where those two weapons can be on the field simultaneously.

And you know, it does seem like Childress is truly committed to cobbling together a more creative offense -- look at this note from the Strib's minicamp report:

Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell joked that Brad Childress turned to him immediately after the team drafted Percy Harvin in the first round and asked for a list of plays designed specifically for the dynamic playmaker from Florida.

The Vikings have conducted a football science experiment ever since. Bevell said the offense features 20 to 30 plays just to get the ball in Harvin's hands and that half of those are entirely new to the playbook.

This effort to liven up the offensive playbook is long overdue -- better late than never, though.  Of course, with the kind of talent this team has at the skill positions, it's almost impossible not to bump the creativity up a notch, but there were very legitimate questions raised after the draft about whether or not Childress and his staff would know how to properly utilize a multi-purpose talent such as Percy Harvin.  It remains to be seen if the Wildcat will still be in the mix come September, but the plethora of plays being designed specifically for Harvin is a positive sign that the Vikings coaching staff does, in fact, feel confident that it can use him creatively.

For a Saturday afternoon practice near the end of May, this unveiling of the Wildcat is a critical development -- one which indicates where the offense is heading in 2009, and more importantly, one which indicates that Chilly might finally be willing to let go of his rigid system-oriented thinking.  Giving the Wildcat a test run is an excellent first step, and we'll just have to see where it leads.

Bieniemy on Peterson's Fumbling Issues

Grandpa Sports caught up with running backs coach Eric Bieniemy and asked him about one of Adrian Peterson's very few stumbling blocks: Fumbles.

"Well, you know what, that is an issue," Bieniemy said. "But the way you address that, I think, in the offseason is you just work on different techniques and different drills on ball security and making sure the little things become a habit. Most of his issues have been [fumbling] in fighting for extra yardage, and at times you've just got to learn that, 'Hey, it's OK to go down.' I know that's not his nature, but it's OK."

I think Bieniemy hit the nail on the head there.  On one hand, the aggressiveness we've seen from Peterson is something very few running backs possess -- if he sees an opening to fight for an extra couple yards, he'll take it.  Because of that, we often see Peterson extending two or three yard carries into five or six yard carries, turning carries that any other running back would lose yardage on into gains of three or four yards.  This, though, results in fumbles.

Peterson might never be able to back off those opportunities to deliver hits and scrap for extra yards -- and you know, I'd be fine with that.  In a perfect world, he'd be able to maintain his aggressiveness while doing a better job of protecting the football, but I'd rather have a running back who plays tough and fights for extra yards than a running back who protects the football while being overly tentative and hesitant to take chances.

And Finally...

Pete Prisco says the NFL should alter its blackout rules due to the bad economy...shouldn't the owners lower ticket prices before we look at making exceptions to the blackout rules?...RadarOnline has exclusive video of Michael Vick's new home life now that he's out of prison...the Vikings are 18th in Adam Schein's organizational rankings...from now on, I think dance-offs should be mandatory whenever there's a rain delay in baseball...