Expecting The Unexpected

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 10, 2009 – 8:26 am

The amount of preparation teams put into playing an opponent each week is voluminous. From Monday through Saturday evening, NFL coaching staffs are continually studying film, charting plays and conducting meetings to become as prepared as possible for Sunday’s game.

That preparation process has an added element of difficulty, or at least uncertainty, to it in Week 1. Rather than looking at film of the opponent’s previous 3 regular season games, coaches are looking at film of 4 preseason games and trying to decipher which of those preseason looks will appear in the regular season. And also trying to envision what looks will show up on the coming Sunday that weren’t put on tape during the preseason.

Add in the fact that the Vikings and Browns are unfamiliar opponents from different conferences, and also the fact that the Browns have a new coaching staff and are still coming together as a unit, and it’s clear to see the Vikings Week 1 preparation is a multi-layered challenge.

“There are some unknowns going into, obviously, the first game, particularly when you play a new staff,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Wednesday. “I know what we have seen in the four games in the preseason, but there is no question that we will see both unscouted looks on offense and on defense.”

There is still another dynamic at play here for the Vikings. QB Brett Favre played for new Browns Head Coach Eric Mangini last year in New York.

“It’s kind of one of those they know that he knows, or he thinks he knows that they are going to do things this way,” Childress said. “So are you playing that card or play the one that you think he’s going to play because he told him this?”

Childress went on to explain that the Browns will have to deal with that same dynamic.

“The flipside of your question is that they have some things in their head that they think they know about number four (Favre) as well,” Childress said. “Some things that I’m sure they want to show and do to him. We will just see. We’ll be a chess master.”

With all of the different elements at play, Childress said the best strategy is to stay true to the basics.

“That’s why I say you go back to system,” the Vikings coach explained. “You don’t want to get caught in a lot of guessing. All you can do is defense what you’ve seen. You can go back and do your history lesson; that’s part of the equation.”

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