Posted January 03, 2013 on AP on Fox
Seattle_seahawks_v_82c5
(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.) By DAVE CAMPBELL AP Pro Football Writer Minnesota's offense has a simple focus: Adrian Peterson. The Vikings aren't scheming to surprise opponents by throwing 50 passes per game. That doesn't mean offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave doesn't have plenty to work on. Just because the Vikings have a straight-forward, no-frills style doesn't mean Musgrave hasn't had to dig deep in the playbook to find combinations, alignments and calls that work to keep the attack balanced and the defense guessing at least some of the time. Coaches and players have credited Musgrave for his ingenuity, particularly over the last month as the Vikings won four straight games to force a rematch this Saturday with Green Bay in the playoffs. In last Sunday's win over the Packers, Musgrave unveiled several wrinkles that proved effective. In the second quarter, wide receiver Jarius Wright lined up as a fullback in front of Peterson before running to the flat and snagging an 8-yard touchdown pass. In the third quarter, fullback Jerome Felton, who had two receptions and no carries over the first 15 games, lined up as a receiver and was wide open for a 17-yard reception during a drive that reached the end zone. ''As the ball was in the air I was like, `Hold on, is that coming to me?''' Felton said. The Vikings accumulated a season-high 444 yards against the Packers. Coach Leslie Frazier, without prompting, credited Musgrave and the other offensive assistants for the plan. ''He's so intelligent and so creative in what he does, and 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 and obviously that's working,'' quarterback Christian Ponder said. ''In the passing game, 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. I think that's the biggest thing that impresses me.'' Musgrave's system hasn't always worked so smoothly. The Vikings netted 120 or fewer yards passing six times this season, though they won four of those games. As the offense sputtered early in their worst loss of 2012 - a 36-17 setback at home against Tampa Bay - one agitated and inebriated fan in the crowd started yelling toward the coaches' box, ''Hey Musgrave! Three and out! Three and out! Three and out!'' (Musgrave stands on the sideline during games, so the complaint was misdirected.) Wide receiver Percy Harvin acknowledged earlier this season that his frustration with the organization, expressed publicly during minicamp, stemmed from a lack of clarity about his role and said the communication from Musgrave last year wasn't consistent. One of the reasons Frazier hired Musgrave in 2011 was the work he did in Atlanta with quarterback Matt Ryan, the 2008 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, but Ponder regressed at midseason and looked lost until a recovery last month. After that first game in Green Bay, when Ponder threw two costly interceptions deep in Packers territory, Musgrave tried to take some of the mounting pressure on the quarterback, asking him to make throws the next two games that were even safer than usual. With a couple of important victories to help 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, but you need coaches to put you in positions to be successful,'' center John Sullivan said. ''I think Bill's done a great job of that.'' Musgrave is a soft-spoken as coaches come, holding pleasant but unrevealing news conferences each week with reporters and rarely showing emotion on the sideline during games. Even so, he has a bit of the mad scientist in him. He wrote a quarterback's handbook years ago, with 100 rules to live by for those playing the position at all levels, based on his own insights, beliefs and experiences. Musgrave said earlier this season that Ryan memorized it his rookie year with the Falcons. In training camp this year, after a lethargic practice, Musgrave tried to motivate his group by putting a bunch of leaves and sticks on a table during a meeting and lighting it on fire, visual evidence of the offense's responsibility to be the spark of the team. He had a garbage can of water nearby to safely extinguish the flames. Five months later, and Musgrave is still finding ways to ignite the Vikings. ''He tries to put us in the best position possible to make plays,'' wide receiver Michael Jenkins said. ''You're pretty excited to see what's in the playbook when you come in for the next week. It's a fun offense to play in.'' --- AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report. --- Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP --- Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Green Bay bar teases Adrian Peterson for not breaking Dickerson’s record

@HeyMattK, @KeithLeventhalLeading up to tomorrow night’s playoff game between the Vikings and Packers, a bar in Green Bay decided to poke fun at Adrian Peterson for falling nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record. Need NFL Tickets? var _CI = _CI || {}; (function() { var script = document.createElement('script'); ref = document.getElementsByTagName...

Packers still believe they can stop Peterson

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There wasn't much that the Packers were able to do in the regular season to stop Adrian Peterson. The Minnesota Vikings' star running back totaled 409 yards in two games, making Green Bay's defense look helpless on many of his breakout runs. Instead of enjoying a restful bye week and watching as four playoff teams get eliminated on wild-card weekend...
TROLLING MINNESOTA

Green Bay Packers bar taunts Adrian Peterson

Nothing like adding a little insult to injury.  Missing out on breaking Eric Dickerson’s record by such a small margin is brutal, even if Peterson is happy that the Vikings made the playoffs.After falling short of the record and beating the Packers in the Metrodome, the Vikings now head to Lambeau for the Wild Card round of the playoffs.  And it appears based on this sign, that...

Packers bar trash talks Adrian Peterson over rushing record (Picture)

NFC North rivals Green Bay and Minnesota will meet in the playoffs Saturday, and matters are so intense even sports bars are getting in on the trash talk. The Stadium View Bar and Grille located on 1963 Holmgren Way in Green Bay has placed two signs on its property taunting Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. One sign is hanging inside the bar while the other is outside it. Both...

Vikes' Peterson wants to play special teams too

Adrian Peterson has done plenty over the years for the Minnesota Vikings and he has never publicly balked at taking on even more responsibility. How about special teams? Of course, he'd love to do that, too. Peterson said Wednesday he has been lobbying to be on the field-goal block team. He also said he ''wouldn't mind getting back there'' as a kickoff returner...

Peterson, Walsh win Player of Month honors

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. The honors continue to roll in for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and rookie kicker Blair Walsh. Peterson, after rushing for a single-month record of 861 yards, was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Month for December. Walsh, who made 11 of 12 field goal attempts in December, took home the Special Teams Player of the Month award. The...

Clay Matthews says Adrian Peterson won’t rush for over 200 yards against the Packers

In the two games during the regular season that the Vikings played the Packers, Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson has racked up over 400 yards rushing against Green Bay.Packers linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. says they won’t allow Peterson to rush for 200 yards on Saturday night.“We aren’t giving up 200 again,” Matthews said Wednesday, per USA Today Sports.I find it funny...

Packers want to force Ponder to beat them

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Adrian Peterson was the best player for the Minnesota Vikings all season. There is no debating that. But as great as the team's star running back was, he needed some help from quarterback Christian Ponder in order to get the Vikings into the playoffs. Throughout most of the season, Peterson didn't get that help. In his second NFL season, Ponder mostly struggled...

Packers-Vikings Playoff Preview: Email Debate and Predictions

For the third time this season, the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings will do battle. But this time the winner progresses to the next level of NFL playoffs. And that means it’s time for MSF’s own Packers and Vikings fanatics to duke it via email one last time this season. Only six days ago, the Vikings defeated the Packers in a close game to earn themselves a wild card...

Ponder has quietly passed through his struggles

The Minnesota Vikings are Adrian Peterson's team. Christian Ponder, though, is the one most responsible for their progress. The passing game was so bad and the ground game was so good that, for a while, Peterson was rushing for more yards than Ponder was accumulating passing. But since the Vikings lost to the Packers on Dec. 2, due largely to the two interceptions Ponder threw...

Power Ranking The NFL's Three Most Valuable Player Candidates

Brady. Peterson. Manning. All names synonymous with individual success, accolades and just flat out dominance. Now they all share the same stage in the rigorous MVP debate.Tom Brady remained his usual dominant self once again, while Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson returned from serious injuries and played like they never left.Brady was consistent throughout the season from a statistical...

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers: Wild Card Round Pick

For analysis on Minnesota click here For analysis on Green Bay click here The Vikings beat the Packers just last week so they will definitely hang within 8 of the Packers this week right? Well, that seems to be what everything thinks as the public is all over the Vikings. However, as is frequently the case when the public likes a dog, I expect them to be wrong. The Vikings are a...

NFC Wild Card: Vikings @ Packers Preview & Prediction

With the evening game of the first day of Wild Card weekend, we get treated to a rematch of a game that was pretty entertaining just six days ago; the 6th seeded Minnesota Vikings travel to familiar ground in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field to face the 3rd seed Green Bay Packers. No stranger to one another, this age old rivalry looks well on it’s way to being renewed as the...

Playoff Preview: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

In what will be their third matchup this season, I expect this upcoming playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers to play like the others from this past season. Minnesota forced it’s way into the playoffs last week with a home victory against the Pack, however Green Bay won the division. Like their other games, Saturday will be feature Minnesota’s Adrian...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.