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Friday, October 25, 2013
Around the Horns: Musgrave's play card

By Ben Goessling

Welcome to Around the Horns, our daily look at what's happening on the Vikings beat:

There have been plenty of jokes recently about the size of the laminated card Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave uses to call plays, ever since Fox analyst (and former Vikings offensive coordinator) Brian Billick pointed it out during a broadcast earlier this season, saying, "That's got to be the smallest play card I've ever seen." The running gag has birthed a Twitter parody account, as the butts of most jokes do in 2013, and for fans frustrated with the Vikings' stagnant offense, Musgrave has become a reliable scapegoat.

The size of his play card, though, is no reflection on how expansive the Vikings' playbook actually is, according to Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He writes that Musgrave keeps a smaller card because the Vikings' offense occasionally requires him to give hand signals from the sideline, and he needs to keep one of his hands free (much like the reason you're reading this on that iPad mini instead of a full-sized iPad, no?).

The card, Musgrave says, is still big enough for 20 runs and between 60 and 70 passes; it just has a smaller font so he can fit everything in.

There are certainly issues with the Vikings' offense, and the simplicity of Musgrave's game plans might be one of them. But the coordinator has also been working with a revolving door at quarterback, an offensive line that isn't up to par and a remade receiving corps. He could be one of the Vikings' issues, but a switch at offensive coordinator isn't likely to turn Minnesota's offense into the 1999 St. Louis Rams.

In the meantime, perhaps all you amateur comedians on Twitter can get together and devise some new one-liners about how easy it should have been for Josh Freeman to get up to speed on the Vikings' offense because of how simple it is. My mentions feed fills up with about 40 versions of the same three or four jokes every time the subject comes up. Let's try to inject a little variety into things, shall we? You're better than this.

Moving on...

Here are Friday's other Vikings stories of note: