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Musgrave Mixing It Up Well For Vikings Offense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 9, 2012 – 2:48 pm

Second-guessing playcalls and strategy is as much a part of the NFL as tailgating and fantasy football. And that’s okay. The passion from which that second-guessing originates is what drives the popularity of the NFL, and, consequently, a big reason why many coaches and players are compensated handsomely. But win or lose, there are a lot of good offensive coordinators out there.

Well, there’s a pretty good offensive coordinator at Winter Park, too. Bill Musgrave, in his second season with the Vikings, is in a groove right now. His second-year QB (Christian Ponder) is completing 69% of his passes (good for 2nd in the NFL), his best offensive player (Percy Harvin) leads the NFL in all-purpose yardage and is 2nd in the NFL with 38 receptions, and his offensive line is paving the way for Adrian Peterson to average 4.4 yards per carry. The playcalling has been balanced, as only 4 teams have a run-pass play ratio closer to 50%.

There have been speed bumps along the way, such as the game in Detroit where Harvin had just 6 offensive touches for 34 yards and the Vikings didn’t score an offensive TD. But those have been few and far between. Musgrave has been creative in getting Harvin the ball, has put Ponder in position to succeed and has coordinated an offense that has 27 explosive plays (runs of 10+ yards, completions of 20+ yards) and Top 10 rankings in scoring and 1st-down efficiency.

Just as important as finding a way to be explosive while striking a balance, NFL playcallers must know when it’s time to go for the jugular. Musgrave has demonstrated that instinct. Against Detroit late in the 4th quarter, the Vikings were clinging to a 7-point lead and faced a 2nd and 11 from their own 19. Musgrave had a choice: call a run that likely would not result in a 1st down but would tempt the Lions to use their final timeout, or get aggressive and call a pass that could result in a 1st down and even more time coming off the clock. Musgrave chose the latter, and the result was a 27-yard connection from Ponder to Jerome Simpson down the left sideline and, ultimately, the Vikings first road division win since 2009.

Another instance of Musgrave being aggressive came last week against Tennessee. The Vikings led 23-7 and the Titans were looking for a small opening to attempt an improbable comeback. The Vikings faced a 2nd and 5 from the Tennessee 15 with 6:45 to play and the clock running. Obvious run situation, right?

“I had just talked to our coaches on the headset about using the clock [being] more important than a touchdown,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier explained after the game. “Then Bill [Musgrave] said, ‘Well we got a touchdown on this play, we can get it’. Okay, call it, and we scored. I turned around and looked at him and said, ‘Good job Bill.’ So much for using clock and running the ball. But it was a great play by Christian [Ponder] and Kyle, and a great job by Bill and the rest of the offensive staff.”

All offensive coordinators – not just Musgrave – take plenty of heat for playcalling. And that’s okay because fans have the right to voice their displeasure. Plus there are times when they’re right.

But when the heat dissipates and the dust settles on analysis of Musgrave’s performance through the first 5 games of 2012, what I see is an offensive coordinator that is mixing it up well.


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47 Responses to “Musgrave Mixing It Up Well For Vikings Offense”

  1. By Swedish Viking on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Everyone wanted Musgrave fired after last year, he is finally opening up the playbook, and getting Harvin even more involved.

  2. By RichardA1 on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    He’s leading the Viking’s thru Wash right now looting, like in the Viking Capitol one commercial, skol!!

  3. By Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Be a little more subtle with the PR Wobbles. Painful to read this article.

  4. By Spencer on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Give it a rest Titus.

  5. By Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Spencer, cannot help it– am off to campus

  6. By Purplele Blood on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    GOOD JOB VIKE’S KEEP IT MOOOVING ! SMASH AND GRAB ! CRUSH AND DESTROY PILLAGE AND PLUNDER I’LL BE AT THE GAME SUNDAY AT FED EX WATCHING THE DEAD SKINS GET PLUCK AND PICKED AND KICKED CAUSETHESE ARE THE MOST ARROGANT STUPID SUCK FANS EVER HERE IN DC ,MD AND VA SO VIKE’S LET’S KICK SOME ASSSSSSSSSSSS !

  7. By 32frank12 on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    How about these young rookies that are contributing to our success so far…..man I am impressed with Speilman did this past spring in the draft….us Viking fans have something to be excited about with our very young team…hoping we get Manti Te’O and Amerson by some how getting both of them in the first round and then get a tall speed demon with great hands WR in the second round….we would be set….we almost have all the pieces set in stone to be a great team for a very long time and btw sign up percy to huge deal for a very long time…Percy is a stud….and just remember fellas we have a lot to look forward to yet in this season and a new stadium coming in a few years….man it is great to be a Vikings fan right now!!!!
    SKOL VIKINGS! BARRRRRRRROOOOOO!!!1

  8. By H.M.G. on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    As long he loosens the reins on Ponder the Vikings will continue to do well. Lets just hope he doesn’t fall asleep and cause Ponder to snap back because of no slack.

  9. By H.M.G. on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Speilman may be a FING GENIUS!
    Like the idea of another solid draft by him and Fraizer to set the Vikings up for future success for many many many years to come.

  10. By OTKalil2012 on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Nice job Wobby !!!…

    “Using off the clock, was more important than scoring another TD” ???…

    There wasn’t a Viking fan, or Titan player, or anyone in the coaching world, that didn’t know your thoughts at that time of the game Les…

    We all know your mind set to well Les…We didn’t need an extra set of head sets listen in to know your game plan…

    (run the ball..then run the ball some more..and if that doesn’t work..run the ball again)…

    Thank goodness, Musgrave gave us a little something new to cheer about…

    A hint of creativity…Keep up the good work Musgrave…

  11. By VikesShield on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    @Purpelele Blood H3LL YA LETS KICK THEIRS ASSSES AND MAKE THEM DEAD SKINS. THEN AFTER WE CAN COOK UP SUM AND EAT SUM YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA MUTHER F U C KE R WAHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  12. By #1vikingsfan on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    I nevr thought our offense improved this much but this post didn’t really helped. Jss to dumb n all that. But ohh well.

  13. By OTKalil2012 on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    I finally saw Frazier SMILE while coaching, after that catch Rudolf made at the end of the game…

    That is how it feels to play loose…And have fun Les…

    Your players,coaches and fans feed off of that kind of energy too !!!…

    I’m not saying play foolish or carelessly…Just have some fun along the way…It still is just a game after all…

    Play serious…But play to win !!!…

  14. By Sir Francis on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Musgrave is mostly doing a solid job, but “explosive” should NEVER be used when describing his offense.

  15. By #1vikingsfan on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    I still dnt see the offense as one of the best tho. Noo creativity:\ he just gives the ball to harvin n make him do the work or give it to AP. They make bill look good.

  16. By JEC334 on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    You have to remind yourselves that Frazier is a defensive minded coach. So it would be up to the OC to open up the playbook and create some good plays.

  17. By H.M.G. on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Clear the middle of the field with the TEs then have Harvin run a slant. Instant 20 plus yards if Harvin makes the CB miss.

  18. By Alex on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Off topic here but I don’t think we will be able to draft Manti Te’O from what i’ve seen it looks like he will go in the top 5 in this upcoming draft even though its a ways away. We would have to give a lot to get him and I don’t think its worth it. I do think we will end up moving up in the draft to take a top WR but not into the top 5.

    Back on topic I like what Musgrave does with the offense, even though he is criticized for not “running up the score” when we have the lead I think he handles those situations well. He does run the ball quite a bit when it might make more sense to some to pass but we do have one of the best running backs in the league and our defense has improved enough for this to work. Last year we would mess up halftime leads, this year were able to chew time off the clock and make stops on defense when needed in the second half.

  19. By GrandDaddyPurp on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    PAY PERCY!

  20. By Vikings1 on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Manti Te’O is a great player but I don’t see Speilman and the Vikings mortgaging the team just to get him because the price will be too high. However, I do see the team filling the holes at WR, the O-Line and DT.

  21. By odark30 on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Yes pay Percy and stop asking him questions about how amazing AP is.

  22. By Fran on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    RG3 probably won’t play, the Redskins defense is scant at best therefore this should be the easiest Minnesota win of the year. The games should be a cakewalk until December, that’s when the real test will take place.

  23. By MTfan on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Scoring is always better than running time off the clock. I hope these guys are starting to see that.

  24. By Jeffbleedspurple on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    The offense needs to mix it up a little more and Musgrave needs to tell Ponder to stop being afraid to take shots downfield and I don’t mean 20 yards downfield.

  25. By Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    This game will be the easiest win and a cakewalk? I hope you are right Fran.

  26. By Spencer on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    RG3 takes lots of shots downfield, unleash the Cornerbacks!!!!

  27. By Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    If RG3 plays, this will be a hard fought game. We can win it and I think our guys are confident. Vikings 23, Redskins 21

  28. By larrywtimm on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    It is a lot easier to open up the playbook when the guys on the field are executing like they are so far this year. Last year they couldn’t even do the fundamental things consistently. The xciting thing to me is that we haven’t played to our potentiol for an entire game yet this year! Also, did the Titans defense remind anyone of our defense last year? Bad angles…horrible tackling…slow reactiions.

  29. By Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Titans looked horrible.

  30. By Spencer on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    So far J-Rob hasnt gotten beat deep, but he does give up a ton of underneath stuff. Expect Santana Moss to have a big day.

  31. By Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Bears will go at least 12-4– can we beat them for the division?

  32. By Spencer on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Can we consistantly defend the pass?

    Not yet, but once we can…then maybe we can win 9 games this year.

  33. By GrandDaddyPurp on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Put Everson Griffen on qb spy the entire game and someone please PAY PERCY!

  34. By #1vikingsfan on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    @titus
    I thought you wouldn’t make a prediction?

  35. By Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    I changed my mind.

  36. By #1vikingsfan on Oct 9, 2012 | Reply

    Haha alright I think it’s goin to b Vikings on top. 34 to 27.

  37. By CALVIKING on Oct 10, 2012 | Reply

    44YR. VIKING FAN HERE; STILL WARY OF COLLAPSE AFTER LAST TWO SEASONS! SKINS HAVE HOMEFIELD ADVANTAGE, AND VIKES MIGHT HAVE A LET DOWN. I HOPE NOT. DEFENSE KEEPS US IN ALL GAMES, BUT OFFENSE MUST NOT TURN IT OVER. WE ARE PLAYING A LOT OF ROOKIES IT SEEMS, WHICH RAISES THE CHANCE OF MISTAKES. THAT IS AN HISTORICAL PART OF THE PRO GAME.
    SKINS WILL BE UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE TO WIN, ESPECIALLY AT HOME, SO I SEE THIS GAME AS A HARD FOUGHT ONE. IT IS NOT A CAKEWALK!! THOSE WHO THINK SO MUST BE ROOKIE FANS! I WILL BE PLEASED IF IT IS A CAKEWALK, BUT EXPERIENCE TELLS ME OTHERWISE. IF OFFENSE PUTS SOME TDS ON THE BOARD, AND DEFENSE SHUTS DOWN THE SKINS, AND WE DON’T TURN THE BALL OVER, THEN WE SHOULD WIN. I CHEERED FOR THE VIKES VS. THE LA RAMS, AND HAD MUCH CONFLICT WITH LA FANS DURING THE LATE 60S AND AFTERWARDS. DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS, BUT WE MUST ALSO WIN THE TURNOVER TABLE. NFL NETWORK STILL DISMISSES VIKES!! HERE’S TO VICTORY ON SUNDAY!! LOOT & PILLAGE OLE’ D.C. VIKING VICTORY!!!!!!!!!

  38. By CALVIKING on Oct 10, 2012 | Reply

    ONLY VIKING FANS OF THE 70S WILL KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT; I SEE A STRIKING SIMILARITY BETWEEN CHRISTIAN PONDER, AND FRAN TARKENTON. SO FAR, PONDER HAS BEEN FILLING DEFENSES FULL OF HOLES WITH HIS SHORT AND MEDIUM PASSING GAME, AND FRAN TARKENTON ALSO DID THE SAME FOR YEARS, LEADING THE VIKES TO 3 SUPERBOWL APPEARANCES. ALTHOUGH I FEEL THE DEEP PASS SHOULD NOT BE IGNORED, THE TREMENDOUS SUCCESS OF PONDER IS TAKING ME BACK TO THOSE DAYS OF TARK’S PASSING ATTACK AND CHUCK FOREMAN’S UNSTOPPABLE RUNNING ATTACK. NOW, WE HAVE PONDER’S AERIAL ASSAULT, AND ADRIAN PETERSON’S UNSTOPPABLE RUNNING ATTACK. PLUS SO FAR OUR DEFENSE HAS BEEN RAVAGING ENEMY OFFENSES. WILL THIS BE ANOTHER PURPLE POWER YEAR?? I CERTAINLY HOPE SO; WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE SUPER BOWL IN 2009 IF NOT FOR THOSE CHEAP SHOT SAINTS. IF VIKES STAY HUNGRY AND AVOID ANY LET DOWN, THIS MIGHT BE OUR YEAR AT LAST, BUT WE HAVE A WAYS TO GO JUST YET.

  39. By CALVIKING on Oct 10, 2012 | Reply

    ACROSS THE HAVOC OF COMPETITION, I FEEL IT IS INCREDIBLY SAD TO HEAR OF THE FAILING HEALTH OF ONE OF THE GREATEST NFL PLAYERS OF THE LAST 50 YEARS, ALEX KARRAS, #71, FORMERLY WITH THE DETROIT LIONS. I TRIED TO GET ON THE LIONS COMMENTS TO EXTEND MY REGRETS, BUT COULD NOT. KARRAS WAS ONE OF THE DETROIT FEARSOME FOURSOME DEFENSIVE LINE BEFORE THE RAMS TRADED FOR THEIR OTHER TACKLE, ROGER BROWN. KARRAS ALSO STARRED IN AN NFL MOVIE CALLED, “PAPER LION”, ABOUT WRITER GEORGE PLIMPTON’S STUNT TO BECOME A “PLAYER” FOR THE LIONS IN PRESEASON ’67, AND MOST OF THE LIONS SQUAD WAS IN THE MOVIE. I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED THIS MOVIE. MIGHT STILL BE AVAILABLE IN AN OLD MOVIES SHOP. AT THE MOVIE’S END, SHOWS GAME VS. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS, WHO HAD YOUNG QB JIM HART, AND THE LIONS POUNDED HIM SENSLESS!! STORY IS ALSO QUITE FUNNY. KARRAS WAS A NATURAL COMEDIAN, AND WAS FANTASTIC ON MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, AS WELL AS JOHNNY CARSON SHOW.
    ALAN ALDA PLAYED THE PART OF GEORGE PLIMPTON IN PAPER LION. KARRAS SHOWED HE WAS A GREAT TEAMMATE, WITH HIS JOKES AND TRADEMARK CIGAR!! A GREAT PLAYER AND A GREAT MAN. HE WILL BE MISSED BY ALL THOSE WHO ENJOY GREAT NFL STORIES AND HISTORY.

  40. By DeerTracks on Oct 10, 2012 | Reply

    @CALVIKING You can stop SHOUTING NOW Nobody, icluding myself, will take the time to read yours posts. Try normal prinit. Thank You!

  41. By celticvikingwarrior on Oct 10, 2012 | Reply

    @CALVIKING—-I truly am NOT trying to pick a “fight” here but I can’t help but comment on a couple of your claims…..
    1. The ” FEARSOME FOURSOME” was the defensive line of the Los Angeles Rams not the Detroit Lions—Deacon Jones–Merlin Olsen–Rosie Grier and Lamar Lundy

    2.Although a “Roger Brown” defensive lineman does sound familiar I can’t place him.(I believe there were 2 Roger Brown’s that played then)
    The only one I am aware of for sure played on the offensive line, for the Eagles I believe.

    3.Alex Karros may have indeed played in the movie “Paper Lion”, I never saw the film….however the role he is most famous for is the character “Mongo” in “Blazing Saddles” (The Mel Brooks comedy)

    4.All the above aside the real point is that on no planet in the solar system could Alex Karros be considered “one of the greatest nfl players of the last 50 years”, he was a decent to good player at best, but one of the best ever-PA-LEEZ

  42. By Troutdaddy on Oct 10, 2012 | Reply

    So- I have critical of our play calling all last year and even for the first 2 games, but I will give it up to Musgrave for opening itup a bit and allowing Ponder to have some freedom. Mixing it up is what kept us rolling with the 49ers and it also got us in the groove with the Titans. With Washington, we are going to need to even do more of that as I think we are going to see a tougher D against the run. We are going to have to spread the field a bit more and get some of our newbies involved. They are going to be glued to Harvin so people like Rudolph, Aroma and Burton may be a good option. It would be nice to get our money out of Carlson as well. My take is to pull out all of the stops and throw the Skins a major curveball. And just when they think they got it figured out- then we let Peterson go right down their throat…. I Bleed Purple…. Nuf said…

  43. By CALVIKING on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    @DEERTRACKS; I AM NOT SHOUTING; EASIER ON CARPEL TUNNEL PAIN TO ONLY HAVE TO TYPE WITH ONE CASE; CONSTANT SWITCHING BETWEEN TWO CASES FOR CAPS AGGRAVATES THE PAIN A LOT. BESIDES, ANYBODY CAN TELL BY WHAT I SAY WHETHER I AM SHOUTING AT SOMEONE. I AM NOT SHOUTING.

    OH, AND NOBODY IS FORCED TO READ MY POSTS IF THEY DON’T WANT TO. THAT INCLUDES YOU. MY POSTS REGARD ONGOING SUBJECTS, AND I HAVE NO INTEREST IN ARGUING WITH OTHERS OVER IRRELEVENT DISTRACTIONS. I HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN ASKED TO INCREASE MY FONT FREQUENTLY BECAUSE MY PREVIOUS FONT WAS TOO SMALL.

  44. By DeerTracks on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    @CALVIKING Sorry, at least your computer is still working. Mine didn’t for awhile. That is what I got for buying a Walmart Special. Peace, and watch out for the Earthquakes And watch the Vikings go!

  45. By CALVIKING on Oct 11, 2012 | Reply

    @DEERTRACKS; YES, WE HAVE BEEN HAVING EARTHQUAKE SWARMS IN SO. CALIFORNIA FOR THE LAST FEW MONTHS, SINCE MID SUMMER, BUT WHERE I AM UP IN THE MOUNTAINS, WE SIT ON A GREAT ROCK PLATEAU, SO RATHER THAN EACH HOME SHAKING, THE QUAKE HAS TO BE STRONG ENOUGH TO SHAKE THE ENTIRE ROCK PLATEAU TO HAVE ANY AFFECT ON US. I HAVE ONLY FELT VERY SLIGHT SHAKING, AND PEOPLE WHO ARE WALKING CAN’T NOTICE IT, SO IT ALMOST NOT NOTICEABLE UP HERE IN THE FOREST. BUT SO FAR, LUCKILY, NONE OF THE QUAKES HAVE BEEN OF A MAJOR VARIETY.

    THE ONLY WORRY IS WHETHER THEY ARE WHAT IS CALLED A “PRE-SHOCK”; WHICH COULD BE THE SMALL INDICATIONS OF A BIG ONE!! ONLY TIME WILL TELL.

    I AM A LITTLE NERVOUS WITH RG3 ABLE TO START FOR THE SKINS AT QB; HE IS VERY MOBILE, AND I HOPE THE VIKING DEFENSE WILL SNUFF HIM, AND SHUT DOWN THE SKINS OFFENSE. VIKES’ DEFENSE THUS FAR IS SUPERB.

  46. By 4eversteve on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    It’s time for the young receivers for the Vikings to step up their game like a S. Burton and J. Wright and D. Aromashadu and yes even J. Simpson and force teams to play a more conventional defense against the Vikings, instead of always having 8 and 9 guys in the box gearing up to stop AP, Harvin. and Gerhart. Musgrave must challenge those players to raise their level of play in order to have continued success this season. Carlson has been a disappointment as well thus far, Rudolph is a stud and is a force to be reckoned with, game in and game out.

  47. By 4eversteve on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Rick Speilman and Z. Wlif It’s time to pony up the cash for Percy Harvin the man is a beast and is playing lights out football since being drafted. The fans at the Vikings home games need to start chanting Pay Percy Harvin, Pay Percy Harvin, Pay Percy Harvin!

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