Minnesota Vikings Need to Have More Aggressive, Risky Offense with Harvin

Jeffrey WaldContributor IMay 17, 2009

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 29:  Receiver Percy Harvin #1 of the Florida Gators takes a direct snap and runs for a touchdown  against the Florida State Seminoles at Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 29, 2008 in Tallahassee, Florida.  The Gators defeated the Seminoles 45-15.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

It's great to have Adrian Peterson, one of the most dangerous and dynamic running backs in the NFL.

It's also a big positive to have receivers in Bernard Berrian, Bobby Wade, a healthy Sidney Rice and Visanthe Shiancoe to throw the ball to. That also assumes that the Vikings will have an above-average quarterack who can get the ball to his team's play-makers.

Then there's Percy Harvin, who comes in as the do-everything selection from the 2009 NFL Draft. Harvin was a solid receiver at Florida when he was healthy and was just as capable running the ball out of the backfield.

He finished his senior year with 40 catches for 644 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games. In that same time span, he rushed for 668 yards and eight touchdowns. More impressively, he averaged more than nine yards per carry.

Vikings coach Brad Childress has quite the challenge ahead of him this year. A lot of athletes who can make plays and want the ball, and only so many offensive plays he can run in a given game. Childress' biggest problem in the past has been the predictability of his play-calling.

With Peterson in the backfield, defenses routinely put eight or nine in the box and try to stuff him. The Vikes would run on first and second down, then pass on third-and-long. It allowed defenses to go after the quarterback at will, and it led to punts and turnovers.

Childress has had problems converting on third down, especially in key situations late in games. The Vikings were ninth in the NFC last year in third-down conversions (39 percent).

For whatever reason, he also has panicked in two-minute drill and end-of-game situations, often showing an inability to manage the clock and move the ball down the field when the Vikings need a score.

The Vikings were 10th in the NFL last year in total offense in the regular season (330.1 YPG). They were 14th in the NFC in passing, sixth-highest in interceptions and led the league in rushing because of Peterson. It's pretty clear from looking at the numbers that the Vikings will succeed if and only if they run the ball with efficiency.

Peterson led the Vikings last year with nearly 1,800 yards rushing, but also had problems holding onto the ball. He ran behind a massive left side of the offensive line with Bryant McKinnie and Steve Hutchinson.

The addition of Oklahoma's Phil Loadholt should help after losing Matt Birk to the Baltimore Ravens in free agency. Not only was Birk a pro-bowl lineman, he was a source of experience and stability that kept the group on the same page for blocking schemes on every play.

If Childress can find a way to use Harvin in the right formations, he could take a lot of the load and pressure off Peterson. The Vikings should run more wildcat or two running-back sets to keep defenses off balance.

Running the ball effectively there should open up the passing game, regardless of who the quarterback is. The head coach needs to less conservative in his play-calling and take a few more risks this year for Minnesota to have a good offense.

Letting his quarterback take risks will show confidence in the offense, and the players will respond. Football will be fun to watch again in the Metrodome if Childress finds a way to use his play-makers the right way.