Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

More than Adrian Peterson

Jarius Wright beats corner Sam Shields for a 65-yard catch off a fake handoff to Adrian Peterson.

Getty Images

Jarius Wright beats corner Sam Shields for a 65-yard catch off a fake handoff to Adrian Peterson.

Minnesota's offense has a simple focus: Adrian Peterson. It isn't going to surprise opponents by throwing 50 passes per game.

That doesn't mean offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave doesn't have plenty to work on.

Coaches and players have credited Musgrave for his ingenuity, particularly over the past month as the Vikings won four straight to make the playoffs and force a rematch with Green Bay in tonight's wild-card game. In Sunday's regular-season finale against the Packers, Musgrave unveiled several wrinkles.

In the second quarter, receiver Jarius Wright lined up as a fullback in front of Peterson. He ran to the flat and snagged an 8-yard touchdown pass. In the third, fullback Jerome Felton, who had two catches and no carries over the first 15 games, lined up as a receiver and was wide open for a 17-yard catch that helped set up a touchdown.

"As the ball was in the air, I was like, 'Hold on, is that coming to me?' " Felton said.

And in the fourth, a play-action led to Wright's 65-yard catch that led to a touchdown.

The Vikings accumulated a season-high 444 yards against the Packers.

"He's so intelligent and so creative," Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said of the 45-year-old Musgrave. "Obviously with Adrian, there are only so many runs you can create and do, but he still finds new ways to get him the ball. In the passing game, he's finding ways to get guys open and create different throws and play actions and all these different things. He has such a great understanding of defenses."

Musgrave's system hasn't always worked so smoothly. The Vikings netted 120 or fewer passing yards six times this season, though they won four of those games. And after a 36-17 home loss to the Bucs on Oct. 25, one agitated fan started yelling toward the coaches' box, "Hey, Musgrave! Three and out! Three and out! Three and out!" (Musgrave stands on the sideline, so the complaint was misdirected.)

One reason coach Leslie Frazier hired Musgrave in 2011 was the work he did in Atlanta with quarterback Matt Ryan. But Ponder regressed at midseason and looked lost until a recovery last month.

After a 23-14 loss at Green Bay, when the former FSU standout threw two interceptions deep in Packers territory, Musgrave tried to take some of the pressure off him, asking him to make throws during the next two games that were even safer than usual. After wins over the Bears and Rams helped Ponder's confidence recover, he played more assertively the last two weeks.

"As players, we go out there and execute and actually make it happen," Vikings center John Sullivan said. "But you need coaches to put you in positions to be successful.

"I think Bill's done a great job of that."

More than Adrian Peterson 01/04/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 4, 2013 10:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends

    Bucs

    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

  2. Bucs' annual Women of RED preseason party attracts nearly 2,000

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Theresa Jones is primarily a college football fan, but she wanted to get a taste of the Bucs. So the 46-year-old Tampa resident bought a ticket for the team's Women of RED Ultimate Football Party at Raymond James Stadium on Friday.

    Lee White of Seminole tries on a helmet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers female fans descended upon Raymond James Stadium for the ultimate football party, the 2017 Women of RED: The Takeover, supported by Moffitt Cancer Center. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times

  3. Rays vs. Mariners, 1:10 Sunday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Today: vs. Mariners

    1:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Blake Snell
  4. Bucs' Ali Marpet: Move to center could pay off big

    Bucs

    TAMPA — No player works as closely with Jameis Winston as the center. Only those two touch the ball on every play. Together they make — if you will — snap judgements about defensive alignments.

     Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ali Marpet #74 warm up prior to preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  5. Inside the Rays continuing historically bad slump

    Blogs

    The numbers tell the story of the Rays inexplicable ongoing offensive slump, and the words detail how tough it has been to deal with.