Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Vikings QBs should have more freedom
By Ben Goessling
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings' offense has gone through significant change as coordinator Norv Turner replaces Bill Musgrave and implements his system, but one worth pointing out is how much more freedom Turner's scheme will give quarterbacks at the line of scrimmage.
That change, according to quarterback Christian Ponder, is among the more noticeable differences in the two offensive systems. Vikings quarterbacks will have more leeway to adjust plays and alter protection schemes at the line, and on the first day of the team's mandatory minicamp, all three QBs -- Matt Cassel, Teddy Bridgewater and Ponder -- were making pre-snap adjustments to set up more favorable matchups.
"When we're going up with each play, we're trying to get ourselves in the best look, and you have more confidence when you're doing that," Ponder said. "Sometimes it can be a lot on your plate -- you can be thinking about it a lot. I think that's kind of what happened during that first (pre-draft) minicamp: everyone was thinking about it a lot. But as we've done the same installs over and over again, we're getting a lot more comfortable. That freedom is a positive for us."
That's not to say that Turner's system is going to turn the Vikings' quarterbacks into Peyton Manning; in fact, Troy Aikman, who probably had more success with Turner than any other quarterback, said three years ago he rarely called audibles while playing in the scheme for the Dallas Cowboys. But giving QBs more control over pre-snap adjustments could be a positive development, provided they can handle it, and in Bridgewater, the Vikings have a rookie who built his reputation on his ability to handle lots of responsibility for Louisville's offense during his three years there.
One complaint about Musgrave's system was that it was too rigid, so Turner's scheme should give Vikings QBs more freedom to adjust on the fly. It's a wrinkle that Ponder said he prefers to the Vikings' old system, and we'll get a better sense of its full effect over the next few months.
"I think you'll find out more of that once you get into the preseason," Cassel said. "It's hard this time of year, because you're installing so much, and trying to see what concepts work. As we get closer to the season, I'm sure that we'll game plan more, and that's when we'll understand how much leverage we'll have as quarterbacks to do certain things."