There has been little surprise in the Minnesota Vikings attack since Brad Childress and Adrian Peterson came to Minneapolis. Childress quickly implemented one of the fiercest rush defenses in the NFL, and Peterson has been destroying opposing defenses for the past two seasons.
However, the 2009 draft and free agent season will make some improvements to the versatility of the Vikings offense.
In the first round of the draft, the Vikings took Percy Harvin (WR, Florida). He will bring a “Reggie Bush” quality to the Vikings offense this season.
The Vikings have been experimenting with Harvin split out wide, in the slot, and in the backfield. He is expected to provide a speed element to complement the power of Peterson.
Harvin is expected to be used mostly on short swing patterns and screens with the occasional slant or drag route in order to take advantage of his elusiveness and speed.
With Harvin drawing the attention of the free safety and causing an immediate threat to the outside linebackers, the Vikings will be able to free up their other wide receivers on fly routes and outside curls where they are likely to draw man coverage.
However, there would be no credibility to the passing game without an upgrade to the quarterback position. The Vikings have addressed that need as well.
Sage Rosenfels was acquired this offseason to compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the starting QB job. If he were to win the job, he would provide instant credibility to the passing game due to his experience in Houston.
Rosenfels has a strong pocket presence and the ability to read coverages better than Jackson, allowing the Vikings to use a variety of three and four wide receiver sets in addition to their power formations.
With Rosenfels at the helm, the Vikings should have the confidence to throw the ball when necessary and threaten the opposition deep. The Vikings are likely to use more play action passes this season, taking full advantage of Rosenfels and the corps of solid wide receivers.
If the defense has to respect the passing game, the field should open up for Adrian Peterson.
Peterson has been the focal point of the offense for the past two seasons and has been forced to beat eight and sometimes nine man fronts in order to gain yardage. Expect Peterson to benefit from the dispersion of the defense by running the ball straight up the middle and using his power to the maximum.
The presence of Rosenfels and Peterson along with the addition of Harvin should benefit Bernard Berrian, Bobby Wade, and Sidney Rice as well. Berrian is the deep threat on the team and is expected to see more man coverage this season.
The addition of a more accurate thrower should allow Berrian the opportunity to better showcase his abilities on go routes and deep slants and outs.
Bobby Wade will start opposite Berrian and will most likely see single coverage exclusively this season. Wade is a big target with decent hands and will probably find himself the recipient of blitz package hot read throws.
If Wade can read the coverages well, he should get 40 to 50 catches this season and make a solid contribution.
Sidney Rice and tight ends Jim Kleinsasser and Visanthe Shiancoe will not see as many balls this season because of all the other weapons. Reserve running back Chester Taylor will only spell Peterson this season.
The defensive side of the ball has seen little change this offseason. The Vikings return Leslie Frazer to coordinate the defense this season. Frazer has the best rushing defense in the league and has addressed concerns in the defense by upgrading his secondary.
They are expected to be a strong unit once again in 2009 and are not expected to make any substantial changes to their playbook this season.